Destiny Bezrutczyk ❘
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Located about 30 miles southeast of Los Angeles, Huntington Beach, California is famous for its excellent surf and beach-town culture. Despite the scenic and relaxing environment, the coastal Orange County city is experiencing increasing hospitalization rates and deaths due to substance abuse. As of 2017, Huntington Beach was leading overdose deaths in Orange County. Additionally, the city is grappling with rising alcohol and Opioid addiction rates, especially involving prescription medications.
While raising statistics can be discouraging, the state of California offers over 25 quality treatment centers to help decrease these statistics. These centers offer a variety of services including intensive inpatient, sober living homes, medical-assisted treatment, and outpatient treatment. If an individual is looking for treatment options in Huntington Beach, there are many options locally.
Opioid abuse is not specific to just one city; it is a national epidemic. Deaths due to Opioids increased nationwide by 30% between 2015 and 2016. Although Opioid abuse rates are not as high in Orange County as the majority of the country, they have been steadily increasing within the past few years. OxyContin and Hydrocodone were identified as the most commonly abused prescription Opioids amongst regular Huntington Beach users. The rate of Opioid-related ER visits in Orange County has more than doubled since 2005, and higher ER visit rates were found in the coastal and central cities of the county. In fact, Huntington Beach had the second-highest total number of Opioid emergency department visits over the last 5 years out of all the cities in Orange County, totaling at 726 visits. The top 5 prescribed Opioids in the area include:
Huntington Beach also had the second-highest number of Opioid overdose death numbers in Orange County from 2011-2015, at a total of 106 people. 66.8% of Orange County drug-related deaths are caused by prescription Opioids, and 75% of those deaths are accidental. A 2015 survey performed by the Orange County Health Care Agency found that women are 1.6% times more likely to overdose from prescription medication compared to men. Residents between the ages of 45-54 had the highest overdose death rates in 2016, and nearly half of the total deaths occurred for those between the ages 45 to 64. The majority of Opioid deaths in Orange County also involve other substances, typically Benzodiazepines and/or alcohol.
The Orange County Alcohol and Drug Advisory Board is currently working on an Opioid Strategic Plan that will identify individual and community needs in Orange County and effective strategies to address those needs.
Although non-medical abuse of prescription drugs is lower in Orange County compared to national statistics, Methamphetamine use is significantly higher in the county compared to the national average. Methamphetamine, more commonly referred to as “crystal” or Meth, is a highly addictive illicit drug that causes severe negative physical and psychological health side effects. Because of the potency, easy availability, and low cost of Meth, southern California is seeing an influx in abuse compared to the rest of the state due to its proximity to the Mexican border. More and more people that develop a dependency on Cocaine in southern and central California are turning to Meth as a cheaper alternative that offers a similar, yet more potent high.
Meth was the primary drug of admission for Orange County rehabilitation centers, consisting of 44% of all admissions. According to a 2016 report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, there are currently more treatment admissions in California for Amphetamines and other Stimulants than for any other class of drug – including Opioids, Marijuana, and even alcohol.
Over the past decade, the hospitalization rates for both mental health and substance abuse-related concerns have remained relatively steady in the Orange County area; however, alcohol use and related crimes have begun to increase.
Huntington Beach has the worst DUI statistics in Orange County and holds the number one position in the state of California for cities with populations of 100,000 or more for alcohol-related traffic accidents. Additionally, Huntington Beach has the highest rates of DUI arrests and nighttime traffic accidents in the county. Local officials attribute these statistics to the vast number of liquor licenses in the downtown area and influx of both tourists and Orange County residents that frequent the multitude of bars and restaurants.
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Over 5,500 hospitalizations related to substance abuse take place in Orange County each year.
According to the Orange County Health Care Agency, there was an 88% increase in drug-related overdose deaths between the years 2000 and 2017.
Substance abuse annually costs the area a total of $430 million in medical-related charges.
Addiction is a disease that is almost impossible to overcome alone. Thankfully, Orange County and the Huntington Beach area have multiple rehabilitation options for those struggling with addiction, including:
Jena Hilliard earned her Bachelor’s of Arts degree from the University of Central Florida in English Literature. She has always had a passion for literature and the written word. Upon graduation, Jena found her purpose in educating the public on addiction and helping those that struggle with substance dependency find the best treatment options available.