Gustine is a city in Merced County, California, United States. It is located 29 miles west of Merced at an elevation of 98 feet. Gustine boasts a population of five and a half thousand people, a number which is steadily growing.

The City of Gustine lies in the San Joaquin Valley, five miles off Interstate 5. State Highways 140 and 33 intersect the city; it is frequently used by travelers to get from the northern to the southern part of the state. It is also used as a route to get to Yosemite National Park for travelers coming from the west. It has a total area of just over one and a half miles, all of it land. Summers in this region are warm but not hot, and quite dry.

The City of Gustine prides itself on being not only being an excellent place to live but also an excellent place to start or locate a business. Whether the business is commercial, industrial or service-related in nature, Gustine provides incentives to entice business owners to open up shop in the area. The city has taken an active and progressive approach to economic development; efforts are being made to determine streetscape and other aesthetic improvements in downtown with the intention of revitalizing the area while maintaining its original character.

Gustine was established in the early 1900s as a station on the Southern Pacific Railroad and named after Sara Miller, nicknamed “Gussie,” the daughter of Henry Miller, the “Cattle King,” an early California land baron and agricultural pioneer. The first post office opened in 1907 and the city was incorporated in 1915.

Gustine was the site of the first 9-1-1 system in California, installed in March 1970.

Gustine is within easy driving distance to the University of California at Merced, the newest of the University of California campuses and California State University Stanislaus. There are also several community colleges in the area.

Gustine is home to a municipal airport, owned and operated by the city, which boasts some of the lowest aviation fuel prices in the state. Additionally, railroad cargo services intersect part of the town.

As a popular bedroom community for the bay area, Gustine offers affordable housing teamed with idyllic small town living while still being located close to larger commerce centers (Merced, Modesto, the Bay Area etc.).

Gustine is home to a relatively high concentration of ethnic Portuguese-Americans. Most can trace their ancestry back to the Azores, but the Portuguese-speaking community also welcomes many families from mainland Portugal and Brazil. This is shown by a large turnout in the yearly OLM (Our Lady of Miracles) Portuguese Festa when over 20,000 people from around Gustine and far away come to visit.

Merced County derives its name from the Merced River, or El Río de Nuestra Señora de la Merced (River of Our Lady of Mercy), named in 1806 by an expedition headed by Gabriel Moraga, which came upon it at the end of a hot dusty ride on the El Camino Viejo across the San Joaquin Valley in Spanish colonial Las Californias Province.

Drug Abuse in Merced County

Methamphetamine has proven a bane for the small town of Gustine, as it has for many smaller towns in rural areas of California. Almost half of hospitalizations for substance abuse are meth related.

Crystal meth is a powerful stimulant. No matter what route of administration is used—injected, smoked or inhaled—an individual will experience a rapid onset of its effects. When under the influence of meth, a person may present with any number of symptoms: increased physical activity, blood pressure and breathing rate; elevated body temperature; dilated pupils; heavy sweating; loss of appetite; sleeplessness; paranoia or irritability; fleeting euphoria; unpredictable behavior; doing repetitive, meaningless tasks; nausea, vomiting, diarrhea; tremors; dry mouth, bad breath; headache; uncontrollable jaw clenching.

Some other troubling signs of methamphetamine abuse include anxiety; depression; fatigue; violent behavior; seizures; respiratory or airway abnormalities; persistently elevated heart rate, placing users at risk for heart attack.

Alcohol abuse runs a close second to meth; arrests due to driving‐under‐the‐influence accounted for approximately 67 percent in recent years. The rate  of fatalities  in alcohol‐involved  accidents was  higher in  Merced  County than  the state overall each year, with males accounting for nearly three‐fourths of total parties who had been drinking in alcohol‐involved accidents.

Untreated alcohol abuse can progress to an addiction to alcohol characterized by physical dependency and/or inability to stop despite serious consequences. Signs and symptoms of alcohol dependence include: significant hangovers and/or increase in time needed to recover from alcohol use; increased tolerance or decrease in the effects of alcohol use; reduced attention to personal and professional responsibilities; repeated unsuccessful efforts to reduce alcohol consumption.

Fortunately, there are resources in the City of Gustine: services to help those who wish to take back their lives from substance abuse.

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