Los Angeles, known for its glamorous Hollywood lifestyle, its pristine weather, and its gorgeous cliffside beaches sadly have a growing presence within the opioid epidemic. With a population of around 4 million residents, people from around the world flock to Los Angeles with the hopes of a better life. However, with its growing population, the amount of people who fall victim to the opioid epidemic continues to rise as well.
Southern California, especially Los Angeles County has had a long history with drug abuse, most notably during the crack epidemic of the 1980s, but for even longer has struggled with alcohol, meth, marijuana, and various other party drug addictions. With the rise of the opioid epidemic, however, Los Angeles has been overcome with overdose deaths across the city.
When did the Opioid Epidemic Start in Los Angeles?
Big Pharma, specifically Purdue Pharma, the creators of OxyContin started growing its presence through network media advertisements and sales agents towards the end of the 1990s which prompted doctors to start prescribing this controlled opioid to their patients for pain. With various incentives and aggressive sales measures, prescriptions for this drug went from targeting chronic and severe pain to prescribing for moderate to low pain. The dosages and frequency of use also grew as did the financial incentives.
Millions of people from the U.S. were suddenly using what seemed to be a promising drug to help with pain issues, but the physical and mental addiction that opioids posed to the everyday individual was hidden from plain sight until it was too late.
Opioids such as OxyContin are highly addictive both mentally and physically. Many doctors were unaware or negligent of this fact and did not work with their patients on a plan to ween off of them as their pain levels subsided. This left patients with sometimes severe withdrawal symptoms. Due to the withdrawal symptoms of opioids such as OxyContin which included high levels of discomfort and irritability, some patients would continue to get prescriptions refilled or turn to street drugs such as heroin for a longer-lasting and cheaper high than the prescription version. This, in short, is what fueled the countrywide abuse of heroin and eventually fentanyl.
The number of prescriptions being written was bringing in billions of dollars to Big Pharma and our economy. Years passed with this reckless market for opioids before the opioid crisis was reported. Millions of people became addicted to opioids, driving the consumer’s demands to look for less expensive and more attainable alternatives such as heroin.
California’s southern border with Mexico became a logistical hub for drug traffickers looking to capitalize on the population’s crippling opioid epidemic which in turn brought heroin into the booming city of Los Angeles.
In more recent years, fentanyl has become more popular which has far more deadly consequences. Fentanyl seems to come into the U.S. largely at the U.S./Mexican border as well.
Opioid Epidemic Effects on Los Angeles
The areas most affected by the opioid crisis in Los Angeles county are West L.A., Antelope Valley, and The Metro Region with the DEA estimating over 6 deaths per 100,000 residents.
The American Medical Association estimates that over 90,000 Americans died in 2020 because of opioids which is almost 10% higher than the 81,000 deaths reported in 2019. These staggering numbers continue to rise as opioids are still being overprescribed and as heroin continues to pour into this country.
In the State of California, overdose deaths spiked to around 40% higher in 2020 compared to the previous year. COVID-19 according, to experts was a leading cause of such a significant rise.
With Los Angeles being one of the most populous cities in California, there was a reported 41.6% increase in drug related deaths since the start of Covid-19. The death toll has especially hit hard with the homeless population which is rapidly rising throughout the city.
After multiple economic recessions since the opioid crisis began, the homeless population has grown to the highest levels in U.S. history. Many of these instances as well as the restricted access to healthcare have caused an entirely separate mental health crisis as well. These societal issues have exacerbated the opioid epidemic, especially in Los Angeles County.
Opioid Addiction Treatment Los Angeles
As Los Angeles has experienced such a drastic rise in opioid abuse and opioid related deaths, the addiction treatment resources have also grown. Many online resources such as SafeMed LA and The Substance Abuse Prevention and Control (SAPC) have open access to multiple different Los Angeles based resources, education, and programs related to the opioid epidemic.
Addiction based recovery programs are also thriving in L.A. county, some of which include 12 Step Programs as well as SMART Recovery Programs to help provide a community for those who are looking to continue their recovery from drug and/or alcohol addiction.
Los Angeles is also a well known city for its addiction treatment centers such as Clear Behavioral Health. Spanning from Detox facilities to inpatient treatment as well as outpatient services, L.A. is considered one of the world’s top locations for addiction treatment. There are also addiction treatment programs that specialize in opioid addiction treatment.
At Clear Behavioral Health, we also specialize in treating opioid addiction. If you or a loved one are in need of help regarding the various types of opioids, call us today and speak with one of our dedicated team members.
The opioid crisis has destroyed families all across the world, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Please don’t hesitate to reach out in order to help you begin your recovery journey.