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Drug And Alcohol Addiction In Santa Rosa, California

Situated in the heart of California’s wine country, Santa Rosa is a picturesque city with a population of roughly 186,170 inhabitants. The prominent beer and wine industries of the Sonoma area draw in revenue and tourists from around the world; however, Santa Rosa’s wine country culture may be a part of the city’s recent increase in rates of alcohol and drug abuse. Santa Rosa currently has the highest rates for DUI out of all of Sonoma County. Additionally, the county had 142 drug overdose deaths in 2020, with 92% of all Opioid-related overdose deaths involving Fentanyl. Experts believe that the COVID-19 pandemic has only exasperated overdose issues in the county.

While these statistics may be troubling, there are multiple drug and alcohol use treatment options available throughout Santa Rosa and the rest of the state. The services in Sonoma County include detox treatment, outpatient or residential treatment, and recovery groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA). Having multiple options available for residents in Santa Rosa increases the likelihood that individuals receive the help they need for recovery.

The Opioid Epidemic In Santa Rosa

Opioid addiction in California has reached epidemic levels. Drug overdoses have caused twice the number of deaths in Sonoma County than motor vehicle accidents, and 80% of those overdoses were unintentional. According to the 2017 Public Health Review of Opioid Use, 126,000 Sonoma County residents have an Opioid prescription – that’s 25% of the population. More than 900 residents have died from Opioid drug overdose in the past 15 years, with the majority coming from the 45-59 years old age group.

The Committee for Health Care Improvement found that 58% of Sonoma County residents with an Opioid prescription are female and that the 3 most frequently prescribed Opioids include:

From 2011-2014, there were at least 660 non-fatal Opioid-related emergency room visits in Sonoma County. Prescription Opioids were the cause for 75% of these ER visits; Heroin was the cause for 25%. Research shows that 21% of the people who use medications for non-medical reasons obtain them from a doctor, and 64% obtain them from a friend or relative. As Opioid abuse rates have continued to rise, Sonoma County is hoping to reduce the availability of the drugs by regulating physician prescribing practices and offering pill drop-offs throughout the county. Pill drop-offs allow residents to safely dispose of their extra or unused medications.

Alcohol Abuse In Santa Rosa

Alcohol abuse among adults and teens is a major public health concern for Sonoma County. In 2016, 37.9% of adults reported binge drinking in the past year, which is higher than the state rate of 31%. Drinking and driving is one of the most pressing alcohol-related problems impacting the health and safety of the area; every week, on average, more than 50 people are arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. Santa Rosa has the highest rate of DUIs out of all the cities in all of Sonoma County, and additionally 46.8% of all DUI arrestees in the entire county noted Santa Rosa as their home town.

According to the 2015-2017 California Healthy Kids Survey, 42.9% of 11th graders reported having alcohol at least once in the past 30 days, and 25.6% identified as binge drinking at least once in their lifetime. Underage drinking presents a range of negative consequences, including:

  • Poor academic performance
  • Social problems
  • Risky sexual behaviors
  • Violent crime
  • Alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents
  • Increased risk of suicide

A 2015 survey found that 73% of Sonoma County 11th graders perceived alcohol as “fairly easy or very easy to get.” One possible factor that could be contributing to the increased rates of alcohol abuse in Santa Rosa is the social environment of the area. There is evidence that high-risk environments of alcohol availability and alcohol consumption make significant contributions to a local community’s statistics. As the county seat of Sonoma, i.e. wine country, there is increased accessibility to alcohol and a more permissive drinking culture within Santa Rosa compared to most cities; many school and community group fundraising events are regularly sponsored by local wineries and breweries.

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Teen Prescription Drug Abuse

After alcohol, prescription drugs are the most commonly abused substances among Santa Rosa youth ages 14 and older. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 1 in 6 high school seniors have previously misused prescription drugs, and 1 in 10 seniors did so within the past year.

1 in 4 teenagers get started on the road to addiction by taking drugs from their parent’s medicine cabinets.

- Dr. Dave Anderson, Sonoma County Harm Reduction Taskforce

Over the last few years, the Santa Rosa school district has been seeing an alarming increase of students abusing and distributing Xanax on school grounds. School officials said that in addition to getting pills from home, students are buying them online or from classmates. Pills go for about $2 to $3 on the street. Xanax is a potent Benzodiazepine that is often prescribed to treat anxiety. More and more high school age kids are turning to Xanax as a cheaper and more accessible alternative to Opioids that produce similar euphoric effects.

Additionally, there’s a growing concern about counterfeit Xanax pills hitting the market laced with Fentanyl, a powerful synthetic Opioid that is 50 to 100 times more powerful than Morphine. The presence of Fentanyl increases the chances of overdose and overdose-related death for unknowing users. In hopes to combat these disturbing new trends, Sonoma County schools are boosting substance abuse education and raising community awareness.

Finding Treatment In Santa Rosa

Addiction is a terrible and tragic condition; however, there is hope. The Santa Rosa area is home to multiple rehabilitation centers that can help those struggling with addiction. Because attempting to detox at home can be dangerous and lead to fatal results, Santa Rosa residents are advised to instead seek out specialized treatment facilities. If you’re ready to start your recovery journey, contact a treatment provider today to learn about your options.

Last Edited:


Jena Hilliard

Photo of Jena Hilliard
  • 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.

  • More from Jena Hilliard


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Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS)

Sonoma State University

1801 E. Cotati Ave.
Rohnert Park, CA 94928

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AA and NA Meetings in Santa Rosa

Name Address Fellowship Hours
Sonoma County Intergroup 750 Mendocino Avenue, Santa Rosa, CA 95401 Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) Monday: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm, Tuesday: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm, Wednesday: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm, Thursday: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm, Friday: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm, Saturday: 11:00 am - 3:00 pm

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