Avenal is a pleasant city in Kings County, in the state of California, in the United States of America.  Avenal is located no less than 35 miles southwest of Hanford, at an elevation of 807 feet.  It is part of the Hanford–Corcoran Metropolitan Statistical Area, which encompasses all of Kings County. In area, it is the largest city in Kings County, and it acts as a metro center for this area.

The population of Avenal ranked in at 15,505 in the 2010 census as reported by the United States Census Bureau.  The economy in Avenal is a stable one to say the least.  There is a large prison that employs many of the local populace.  Many of the remaining residents largely work in the thriving agriculture industry that is still a major part of the city’s economy too. The prison provides approximately 1,000 jobs to residents.

Avenal Drug Crisis

For a small town, Avenal has a very strong and stable economy.  This city however has also accrued a pretty serious addiction problem too.  This city has been suffering time and time again with drug and alcohol addiction crisis issues, the least of which being excessive marijuana use and abuse within the city limits.  The general consensus is that, because much of the labor done in Avenal is at the local prison or in the agricultural industry, happiness levels in Avenal are lower than they are in the average American town of this size.  Add that to the fact that the economy there is pretty good and unemployment is low, and you have a city that is perfectly set up for drug and alcohol abuse and addiction.

The Numbers

There are a lot of statistics that show the true face of addiction in this nation.  The biggest problem is with prescription drug abuse.  For example:

• In the year of 2005, about 4.4 million teenagers of the ages of 12 to 17 in the U.S. admitted to taking prescription painkillers of one kind or another, and 2.3 million took a prescription stimulant such as Ritalin. 2.2 million people abused over-the-counter drugs such as cough syrup or something of the like. The average age for first-time users is now 13 to 14 years old.

• Prescription depressants, opioids and antidepressants are responsible for more overdose deaths (45%) than cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and amphetamines (39%) combined. In the United States for example, the most deaths used to take place in inner cities in African-American neighborhoods, but they have now been overtaken by white rural and suburban communities in fact. The same trend can be seen in the rates of hospitalization for substance abuse and emergency hospitalization for overdoses as well too. Of the 1.4 million drug-related emergency room admissions in 2005, 598,542 were associated with abuse of pharmaceuticals alone or with other drugs too.

• By recent survey done, almost 50% of teens believe that prescription drugs are much safer than illegal street drugs, with 60% to 70% say that home medicine cabinets are their source of the drugs.  Essentially, young adults feel as though it is these drugs that cause the most damage and the most destruction by far, making for a big problem especially since teens don’t even see them being more than slightly dangerous.

Substance Abuse Being Put on Hold

If there is one crisis that is causing a lot of concern in and around Avenal, it is drug and alcohol addiction.  Avenal and the surrounding areas, though not heavily populated, are under severe drug trafficking and addiction the likes of which it has never seen before.  Substance abuse and drug trafficking in general has been spreading out from the bigger cities in this state and enveloping many of the small towns, rural communities, and suburban areas.  Sadly, Avenal has really been caught in the crossfire lately, and addiction has cropped up here the likes of which has never been seen in this area.

There are some significant differences between recreational use of drugs and alcohol and full blown addiction.  Local residents in Avenal need to be able to understand these, as it will make a big difference in which steps to take next:

• Secrecy and solitude is a big one.  In a lot of cases the addict may take their substance alone, and even in secret, and without letting anyone know about it.

• Denial is another major indicator. A significant number of people who are addicted to a substance are in denial and say that they are not really addicted to those drugs.  They are in fact not at all aware, (or refuse to acknowledge it anyways), that they have a problem of one kind or another.

• Excess consumption is a dead giveaway. In some addictions that people tend to accrue, such as with alcohol and some drugs like prescription pills, the individual consumes it to a big excess and in a very dangerous way, even if the substance is totally legal. The consequence can then be things like blackouts, (they cannot remember chunks of time in their lives), or physical symptoms even, such as a bad sore throat and intense persistent cough.

• Dropping hobbies and activities for substance abuse.  There is trend to the progression of an addiction wherein the individual may stop doing things that he or she used to enjoy quite a bit.

• Having stashes in hidden places.  While a recreational user uses impulsively and sporadically, (binge drinker), the truly addicted individual may have small stocks of their substance hidden away in different parts of the house or car often in unlikely places where they feel they will not be found.

These are just a few of the signs of a true and very real and very dangerous addiction problem.  If one knows someone who displays these characteristics then it is time to help that person find and get into rehab.  Rehabilitation of an inpatient nature is the key to beating addiction in Avenal, and if all who live here are put through inpatient rehab then the city can finally make a good turnaround.