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Orange County Drug Treatment and Substance Use


Orange County’s most affected areas are the coastal and southern portions of the county. These areas recorded the highest rate of death and hospitalizations related to alcohol and drug use.  Resulting in more than 700 deaths with over 5,500 hospitalizations every year. The Orange County Coroner listed 78.6% are accidental deaths. These numbers are from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Coroners Division report for 2017.

How Does This Effect The Healthcare System?

To deal with the drug and alcohol use of patients they occupied almost 70,000 hospital beds each year. Each hospitalization averages 4.3 days. The cost to taxpayers is nearly $430 million annually. The average charge per admissions was $26,223.

A reported 69.4% of the patients admitted for drug and alcohol poisoning were discharged from the hospitals after they stabilized while 10.0% left on their own, against the advice of their doctor. While 12.7% of those died in the hospital or were pronounced dead upon arrival.

What Part Of The Population Is Dying?

Males make up 58.1% of all hospitalization related to drug and alcohol cases with the highest age group being from 25 to 64 years old, peaking for those at 45 to 54 years old.


Graph from the Orange County Healthcare Agency & Sheriffs-Coroners 2017 Report


Race and Ethnicity

The non-Hispanic White population has the highest rate of drug and alcohol related hospitalizations at 78%. The second most common group needing hospitalization are  Hispanics at 14%.

Graph from the Orange County Healthcare Agency & Sheriffs-Coroners 2017 Report

Are Drug And Alcohol Poisonings Getting Worse?

In the past 16 years (2000 to 2015)  the death rate from drug and alcohol poisonings has increased by 82%. The death rate of drugs  is fueling an  88% increase with alcohol related overdoses increasing only 76%.

In the years spanning 2013 to 2015 a total of 1368 men and 679 women died of drug and alcohol related poisonings. Non-Hispanic Whites had the most deaths at 1436 with the Hispanic population  with 458 deaths during that same 3 year period.

There are two groups broken down by age that have the highest rates of death. They are those from 55 to 64 with a rate of 51.6 per 100,000 and those from 45 to 54 at a rate of 41.5 per 100,000.

Graph from the Orange County Healthcare Agency & Sheriffs-Coroners 2017 Report

Death Count By Categorized By Substance

  • Prescriptions drug related deaths were at 58.1% from 2013 to 2015.
  • Illegal or technically illicit drugs account for only 23.2% of the deaths from overdose in that same period of time.
  • The mixture of pharmaceutical and illicit drugs along with alcohol claimed 19.4% of the deaths.
  • Alcohol poisoning deaths were at 4.8%.

The statistics show a majority of people dying from drug and alcohol related poisonings are accidental deaths.

  • Accidental deaths account for 78.6%.
  • Intentional deaths accounted for 18.6%. There is no breakdown of intentional deaths so that 78.6%  includes both suicides and murder by overdose.

Accidental vs. Intentional 

Accidental Deaths

  • 43.9% were pharmaceutical drugs.
  • 27.9% were illicit drugs.
  • 22.0% more than one drug was used.
  • 6.2% were related to alcohol.

Intentional Deaths

  • 87.5% were pharmaceutical drugs.
  • 4.3 were illicit drugs.
  • 8.2% more than one drug was used.
  • No deaths were related to alcohol.
Graph from the Orange County Healthcare Agency & Sheriffs-Coroners 2017 Report

From 2013 to 2015 

  •  Opioids deaths lead the way with 675 deaths.
  • Benzodiazepine had 364 deaths.
  • Antidepressants had 275 deaths.
  • Alcohol had 262 deaths.
  • Amphetamines had 242 deaths.
  • Antihistamines had 163 deaths.
  • Cocaine has 23 deaths.
  • Barbiturates had 21 deaths.

A majority of the deaths involving opioids are further broken down. 

  • Prescriptions were 56.0% of the deaths.
  • Both prescription and illicit drugs used were at 26.7% of the deaths.
  • 17.3% of the deaths were related to the use of illicit drugs like Heroine.


Non-Hispanic Whites population

  •  56.1% were prescription drugs.
  • 20.2% were illicit drugs.
  • 19.7% mixture of more than one drug.
  • 3.9% from alcohol.

Hispanic population

  • 37.5% were illicit drugs.
  • 30.1% were prescription drugs.
  • 21.3% mixture of more than one drug.
  • 11.0% from alcohol.
Graph from the Orange County Healthcare Agency & Sheriffs-Coroners 2017 Report

Treatment Options For Those With Substance Use Disorder

The first step in a patient becoming free of their addiction is typically a medical residential detox program. 

Once the physical addiction to the drug is gone, the mental part of the addiction can be addressed that should include the root cause of the addiction. The types of treatment each patient receives is determined by a medical professional.

What Types Of Treatments Are Available In Orange County?

The exact type of treatment will be determined after an analysis of the patient is completed that includes their age, sex, the drug of choice and mental condition. The types of treatment options include;

  • Residential treatment facilities
  • Intensive outpatient programs, this is mostly used for younger residents under the age of 18.
  • Outpatient programs.
  • Opioid treatment programs.

In Orange County, some facilities are funded by the county and the state of California where no to little cost is charged for enrolling. The factors determining the cost include;

  • Age of the patient.
  • Income at permanent residence.
  • Drug used.
  • Employment history.
  • Classification of the patient, here pregnant women are first in line followed by intravenous drug users.
  • Help in paying for the costs can be Medicare, Medicaid, local and federal nonprofit organizations.
  • Services available are limited because of the state and county budgets.

There are also numerous private facilities in Orange County. 

  • Patients are admitted using private health insurance and donations from nonprofit organizations.
  • More services available than public facilities because more funds are available. Most of these facilities do not accept Medicare or Medicaid.
  • Patients are admitted using private health insurance and donations from nonprofit organizations.
  • More services available than public facilities because more funds are available. Most of these facilities do not accept Medicare or Medicaid.

The atmosphere at  treatment facilities does vary.

  • Publicly funded facilities are limited in location, types of building, furnishing, and salaries for the staff due to budgetary restraints.
  • Private facilities are generally purpose built buildings to meet the needs of the services being offered with new furniture and better paid staff members.

For those Orange County residents that need help before it is too late, it is available if you want to be free of your addiction. There is no law requiring enrollment into a drug rehab center, but there are punishments by law if you are apprehended using prescription drugs illegally or using illicit drugs. Once enrolled in a rehab facility the health record of your drug use is confidential by law.



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Los Angeles County Drug Treatment and Substance Use

LA county averaged 464 deaths per year from 2011 to 2017 from opioids. The number of emergency room and hospital visits of those seeking help increased 20% from 31% in 2006 to 51% in 2017. With 4.7% of the residence misusing their opioid prescriptions which is slightly higher than the national average of 4.3%. 

Community Consequences of Premature Deaths By Drug Addiction

Parents are losing children and children are losing Mothers and Fathers. Huge family and community voids are created by every death. Drug related premature deaths reduce their life span by 30 years on average. Reducing the number of adults in the age bracket of 20 to 50 years old that would otherwise make contributions to the community and workforce. 

How Does Drug Use affect the Health System in LA?

In 2012 at Columbia University a study of how the abuse of addictive medicines negatively affected the health resources in LA was conducted. The numbers below representing LA are from the years 2013 to 2017 using the Columbia study as a guide to help compile the data for numbers on an annual basis.

  • 2,938 deaths related to alcohol or drug use.
  • 132,682 Emergency room visits related to alcohol or drug use including overdoses.
  • 108,809 hospitalization of a patient related to the abuse of alcohol or drugs.
  • $60,947 was the amount on average each of the hospitalizations.
  • $6.6 billion each year is the cost of these emergency rooms and hospitalization of alcohol and drug related visits.

How Does Drug and Alcohol Use affect the Criminal Justice System?

In California, 33% or 101,619 arrests were made on an annual basis from 2012 to 2017 for drug and alcohol-related offenses. From 2014 to 2017 LA county had 90,845 felony arrests that were drug and alcohol-related offenses.

  • 43% of the arrests involved a person under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • 25% of these arrested were for drug law violations.
  • 65% of all inmates in the California criminal justice system have been diagnosed with a Substance Use Disorder.
  • To keep each criminal locked up in California cost the taxpayers $70,812 annually.
  • $7.7 billion is spent annually on Substance Use Disorder issues includes keeping inmates incarcerated, their trials and any treatment they receive while behind bars.

How much does it Cost Taxpayers for Drug and Alcohol-Related Treatments and the Consequences of Using Drugs?

The portion of the California state budget spent on drug and alcohol abuse related subjects is 19.5% annually as of 2005. With the federal funds added to help handle the load, a total of $467.7 billion was spent in 2005 on drug and alcohol related treatments and dealing with the consequences as a nation. The breakdown of  spending is below;

  • 95.6% of the funds went to the consequences of drug abuse-related items with the 2 largest areas being health care at 58% or $207 billion and legal fees and incarceration at 13% or $47 billion.
  • 1.9% went to prevention programs and treatments to help alcohol and drug addicts.
  • 1.4% on taxation and regulations.
  • 0.7% on intervention treatments and programs.
  • 0.4% on research.

What is the Breakdown of LA County’s Population?

The following is how the population of LA county is categorized with recent data for residents 12 years old and above in age for the fiscal year 2017 to 2018.

  • 0.4% or 37,770 people were in publicly funded Substance Use Disorder (SUD) programs.
  • 8.4% or 725,000 people have SUD and are not in a treatment program.
  • 25% or 2,157,000 people are classified as risky users but do not fit the criteria of SUD.
  • 66.2% or 5,709,000 people are considered non-users.

The breakdown SUD (Substance Use Disorder) patients in age, ethnically, sexually, handicaps, and drug of choice.

  • 63.4% of those in a SUD treatment facility were male.
  • 46.5% were Latino.
  • Their ages span from 26 to 54 years old.
  • 72.5% were unemployed.
  • 66.2% said English is their native language.
  • 42.4% were homeless.
  • 40.3% used Heroin.
  • 21.6% used methamphetamine.
  • 13.9 used marijuana.
  • 13.4% used alcohol.
  • 6.0% used prescription drugs.
  • 3.7% used cocaine.

What Types of Treatments are Available in LA County?

All levels and types of treatments are available in Los Angeles County. Typically the first step is a detox center. After detox, the patient is usually transferred to a residential treatment center. For patients that do not require detox, there is also outpatient as a treatment option. 

Residential Treatment Facilities Population

  • 55.0% of patients were classified as homeless.
  • 3.3% were employed.

The drug of choice

  • 47.7% methamphetamine
  • 21.4% alcohol
  • 12.4% heroin

This treatment type had positive compliance of 51.1% when the patients were discharged.

Intensive Outpatient Programs

24.3% of the patients admitted to this type of program were between the ages of 12 and 17.

The drug of choice

  • 38.9% marijuana
  • 35.7% methamphetamine
  • 16.7% alcohol

This treatment type had positive compliance of 52.1% when the patients were discharged.

Standard Outpatient Programs

               The drug of choice

  • 34.3% methamphetamine
  • 31.5% marijuana
  • 20.3% alcohol

This treatment type had positive compliance of 42.9% when the patients were discharged.

Opioid Treatment Programs

Between the fiscal years of 2006-2007 and 2015-2016, the number of opioid-addicted patients seeking treatment increased from 15.4% to 38.7% of all SUD patients in LAC. This is an increase of 151%.

  • 53.2% of patients were 45 years old or more.

The drug of choice

  • 87.4% heroin
  • 11.0% prescription opioids

This treatment type had positive compliance of 26.2% when the patients were discharged.

The majority of patients in treatment programs for SUD are in the age group 25 to 65, other classifications have been identified:

  • 7.7% were 12 to 17 years old.
  • 15.5% were 18 to 25 years old.
  • 2.4% were over the age of 65.
  • 16.5% are involved in the criminal justice system.
  • 21.5% were homeless.
  • 20.7% had one or more disabilities.
  • 5.0% identified as LBGT.
  • 3.6% were US veterans.

It is evident there are people suffering from Substance Use Disorder in Los Angeles County. Unfortunately 98% of all funds allocated to handle this problem going to dealing with the consequences of drugs and only 2% for the treatment of drug use, the county can’t win the battle without funding going to treating Substance Use Disorder rather than punishing the afflicted.

Another prevailing problem seen in the statistics is that all of the treatment programs have around 50% success rates or lower. Just treating the addiction to drugs is not enough. The root cause that leads to the person using drugs as their escape mechanism from the real world has to be diagnosed and treated. The root cause can be from social pressures, mental illness, or traumatic incidences. This is why a tailored made treatment program for each person with SUD is necessary for them to live a life free of addiction.


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Reference Guide For Southern California Drug Rehab Centers

The ten counties in Southern California.

This reference guide of Southern California Drug rehab facilities reveals vital information you can use to decide how you, a loved one or a good friend can find the help they need to turn their life around. 

In California, 12.94% of adults use illicit drugs which is higher than the national average. 

Are All Drug Rehab Facilities In Southern California The Same?

All facilities handling substance addiction have to report and answer to both the California Department of Health Care Services and the California Health and Human Services Agency. If the rehab facility you are considering is not either licensed or certified by these two governmental institutions, then the care you will receive might not be evidence-based treatments, which could decrease your chance of breaking free of addiction. 

The reason for picking a rehab center that is licensed or certified by the state is so the treatment program you will be in is conducted in a safe and healthy environment. The programs also have a known success record of helping people be free of substance abuse.

Presently there are more than 1000 non-medical health faculties that are either certified or licensed by the state in Southern Californian. From San Diego in the south to Santa Clara in the north to San Bernardino and Riverside to the east.

Should You Choose A Certified Or Licensed Rehab Center?

By enlisting the help of a license or certified rehab center, you will be within the California state’s system. The benefits of that include the following;

  • The programs use evidence-based treatments where the results are logged and verified.
  • Being in the system of the state means they also know how to provide you with financial aid if necessary.
  • Both inpatient and outpatient programs are available.
  • Transfers from one facility to another are possible without leaving the system.
  • Each facility is overseen by the local county mental health department who takes responsibility for the health and well being of each patient.

What Types Of Treatment Are Available?

Each person who has a substance abuse problem is different and therefore each treatment plan is tailored made for them. This is the reason for the initial interview so the correct type and level of help can be provided.

  • Inpatient treatment; the patient is housed in a facility and not permitted to leave until released. They receive 24-hour care for their condition along with room and board. If inpatient treatment is not mandated by the court, the patient can leave against  MA (medical advice).
  • Outpatient treatment; a patient will go to a designated facility according to their schedule. This can be for up to 6 hours a day in a hospital or other type of facility. This is generally a counseling environment.

The exact type of treatment will vary depending on the needs of the patient but can include;

  • Group and or individual therapy sessions
  • Medication management
  • Detox centers, inpatient-only
  • Court-mandated treatments
  • Support group meetings
  • Life skill and employment training
  • Educational courses
  • Transitional assistance
  • Aftercare services

The type of treatment is individualized, but when the patient is addicted the first step is detox. For some patient’s medications might be used to ease the withdrawal symptoms. After their body is free of the substance then the healing process can begin.

Is Drug Rehabilitation The Only Treatment Provided?

Most people addicted to a substance have other problems that made them susceptible to having a problem with drugs. It is best to treat not only the addiction to a substance, but also the condition that might have contributed to it becoming a problem. The conditions that might need to be addressed include mental health disorders, PTSD, anxiety, depression, and or a complex trauma situation.

Treating the cause and the addiction is the best path to follow for a full and lasting recovery. This might require a medical professional. 

The Differences Between Private and Public Rehab Facilities

Private and public facilities differ in four main areas, how the services are paid for, the types of services provided, the order of admission to a facility and the environment in the facility.

Paying for the services of a rehab center

  • Many free and low-cost public drug rehab centers in southern California are available to California residents. The funds are provided by the state, county and or non-profit organizations. Fees are assessed per the income level of the household where the patient resides.
  • Paying for a private rehab facility is done with a combination of health insurance and fees paid by the household of the patient. There are also situations where nonprofit organizations make contributions to help cover costs. Medicare and Medicaid are not accepted by most private facilities.

Types of services provided

  • Public drug rehab centers offer the basic treatment of detox along with a wide variety of rehabilitation services. The number and quality of the services are dictated by the funding each facility has in its budget as set by the state.
  • Private drug rehab facilities offer a wider range of services than public facilities. This is possible since the budget and programs provided are set by the board of directors and not the state. The services can be custom designed to meet the needs of the client.

Admission to a facility

  • Public rehab centers have a specific protocol for admissions. The top priority is pregnant women. They are followed by intravenous drug-addicted patients than by those who get classified as in immediate crisis mode. If there are remaining openings then others can be admitted.
  • Private drug rehab centers accept anyone who can pay for their services as long as there is an opening.

The environment of a facility

  • Public rehab facilities are set up and furnished in buildings supplied by the state or local county. Aesthetics is not the top propriety, space is. Some of the furniture might be repurposed from other public faculties.
  • Private facilities are purpose built and are furnished from average to luxurious. It is dependent on the cliental.

Will Drug Rehab Treatment Be Successful?

Southern California Rehab GuidesAll drug rehab treatments are designed to assist a person with an addiction to live drug free. The one factor treatment cannot provide is the desire of the patient to live free of their addiction. The right attitude and desire to be free of addiction is a must.

What the treatment and the facility will provide are the tools to make living free of an addiction a reality. Each patient will learn skills on how to coup with the impulse to prevent returning to addiction. This is in part accomplished by learning how to change one’s behavior so the temptation is decreased. The patients will also learn how to avoid a situation where they might become vulnerable.

Any person dependent on a substance can stay drug-free with the supportive help of family, friends, and sponsors who can and will help them when they feel cravings or struggling with temptation. For many, this struggle to live drug-free will last for years after leaving the drug treatment program. Living drug-free is possible with the support of those around them in their daily lives.

If you are ready to live your life on your own terms then consider your choices from the numerous Southern California drug rehab centers. The beginning of your new life is just a phone call or email away.