Taft is a city in the foothills at the extreme southwestern edge of the San Joaquin Valley, in Kern County, in the state of California, in the United States of America. Taft is located just 30 miles west-southwest of Bakersfield, California, a much bigger city and the urban center of that area of the state.  The population of Taft ranked in at 9,327 at the 2010 census as reported by the United States Census Bureau, making it a bedroom community and a suburb town to Bakersfield.

Taft is known for its strong and well placed economy.  The city is situated in a major petroleum and natural gas production region in the state of California and is one of the few remaining towns in the United States which exist exclusively because of nearby oil reserves and gets its economic success almost exclusively because of its oil reserves.

As for some history on the town and its economic success, the discovery of oil in the region occurred in the late 19th century near Maricopa, just seven miles south of Taft.  Many other oil and gas accumulations graced the city with their presence and were discovered by prospectors from Taft during the early-to-mid-20th century.  In fact, the town is built directly between these two huge fields and about ninety percent of the Taft working force works on these fields. The operational activities within these fields, as well as Occidental Petroleum’s Elk Hills Oil Field north of Taft, have been the economic life blood of the town for over 100 years, making for something of a tradition for them.

In spite of the strong economy in Taft, the oil revenue for the town on a per capita basis is not that high.  For example, the median income for a household in the city was $33,861, and the median income for a family was only $42,468. Males had a median income of $47,000 versus only about $26,838 for females. The per capita income for the city was at only $17,564.  As has always been the case in the oil industry, there is a huge gap in Taft between the actual oil field workers and the owners and executives of the oil companies that own those particular fields.

Drug and Alcohol Addiction in Taft

As is the case in so many other small, middle class cities in California, drug and alcohol  addiction and substance abuse has made a big impact and a big presence in and around Taft.  California is currently experiencing the greatest spread of addiction amongst its locals of its small towns than it has ever experienced before, and Taft is only one of many cities that has sadly fallen into this trap.

Some statistics on the general drug and alcohol problem have been gathered and presented here, specifically as it pertains to heroin, which is the new drug of choice in Taft:

• Although people of the age of 18 to 25 are more at risk for heroin use by far, according to the CDC, on average, heroin is a drug for slightly older adults probably because it is perceived as being more risky (and rightly so) and because most heroin users have used other drugs in the past too. In fact nine in ten people who use heroin use it with at least one other drug, most with at least three other drugs in fact.  Heroin is a big trouble in California and in Taft specifically.

• Heroin is a big problem today, especially on the West coast.  Although heroin is perceived by teenagers as the most dangerous drug of them all, the overall amount of 12 to 17-year-olds who perceive the drug as very risky has declined slightly since 2002, according to the results of a 2013 survey by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This is bad news.  Teens also say that it is the most difficult to obtain with the share of teens saying heroin is fairly or very easy to obtain declining from 15.8 percent in 2002 to 9.1 percent in 2013. This means that teens not only think it is not as dangerous as they used to, they also think it is easier to get ahold of.

• Heroin abuse is tightly tied to prescription drug abuse, which is also a problem in Taft.  The two drugs are closely linked in more ways than one in fact. Almost half of people addicted to heroin are also addicted to painkillers too, making for a serious crisis indeed. People are in fact no less than 40 times more likely to be addicted to heroin if they are also addicted to prescription painkillers as well.

Utilizing Rehabilitation to Address Heroin Addiction in Taft

Truthfully, the only way to really, effectively address drug and alcohol addiction and to really make a stab at it in Taft is to focus on getting all those who are addicted to drugs and alcohol in this city into and through inpatient, residential, drug and alcohol addiction and dependence treatment centers, detox facilities, rehab programs, and recovery organizations.  These are actually the only real option for such individuals.  The problem is a big one and a serious one in Taft but it doesn’t have to be so.  With rehab, this issue will finally be something that can be gotten rid of once and for all.

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