shutterstock_511979473California is one of many states struggling with opioid overdoses and general addiction crisis issues.  In fact, though California is not the top state in the nation for addiction crisis issues, it is the state with the highest number of overdoses, the highest number of drug-induced driving fatalities, alcohol-induced driving fatalities, and the most drug-related crime.  A lot of this has to do with the population of the state, but even states with very high populations like Texas, Florida, New York, Illinois, Philadelphia, and Georgia do not have anywhere near the level of addiction problems as California does.

Where did this sudden risk and relatively major and concerning problem come from?  The recent epidemic is largely due to “an increased awareness of the right to pain relief, the support of various organizations supporting the use of opioids in large doses, and finally, aggressive marketing by the pharmaceutical industry,” according to a widely-cited 2012 academic study on the matter.

Basically, people suddenly became a lot more aware of their rights and liberties when it came to pain drugs, and the first thing that happened was they started to abuse those rights. Other studies have noted wide variations in how doctors prescribe opioids too, citing that the problem is not as much in the ethics and morality of human beings, more so it is in the ethics of doctors who would peddle pain drugs willy-nilly.  Finally, the illicit use and abuse of heroin has risen sharply, particularly among young adults, state ER visitation data show.  This would also cause the use and abuse of opiate pain drugs to rise as well.  All in all, this is definitely a big problem and has been for some time now too with it showing no real sign of getting any better any time soon either.

Some of the Numbers on the Problem

In recent news, California hospitals treated a staggering more than 11,500 patients who were suffering an opioid or heroin overdose in 2016, new state figures show to us.  What does that roughly work out to?  That’s roughly one overdose every 45 minutes.  That’s what it works out to.  It’s also up more than 50 percent from 2006 too, making it into one of the most deadly and concerning problems in the entire state.

This trend raises a lot of other key concerns too, though.  For example, the trend explains a rise in the number of California infants born suffering withdrawals from heroin or painkillers.  Because that’s right, that’s also been going on at all-time high levels too.

A Bigger Problem in the North

Hospitals in rural, Northern California see the highest rate of opioid overdoses by far, even though these have some of the lowest population densities. Between the years of 2006 and 2013, Shasta County hospitals saw more than 1,100 overdoses for example, or eight overdoses per 10,000 residents, more than triple the statewide average in fact.  The rate of opioid overdoses in Sacramento, Placer, and El Dorado counties was higher than the statewide average too, making Nor Cal the epicenter of opiate addiction crisis issues.

What can be done to address these really dangerous and ultimately very concerning issues? Obviously, something needs to be done and quickly too before the issues get any worse than they have already gotten.  Now more than ever the state of California needs to be engaging the local, addicted population in inpatient, residential, drug and alcohol addiction and dependence treatment centers, detox facilities, rehab programs, and recovery organizations.  With these approaches to addiction treatment, it is actually possible and likely that the entire addiction problem will become something of the past.  This needs to be done sooner rather than later, as opiate addiction is one of the most deadly and fatal addiction problems out there to date.

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