Orange County Opioid Epidemic

Opioids, such as heroin, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and fentanyl, are some of the most habit-forming substances on the planet. In past decades, heroin and prescription drug addiction was seen as a problem among poor, homeless, or troubled individuals. It was viewed as something that only occurred in inner cities or towns known for crime and mischief. But today, that perception couldn’t be further from the truth. The opioid epidemic is alive and well in the United States.

Right now, all areas of the country are engulfed in addiction — addiction to alcohol, meth, cocaine, and of course, opioids. Addiction has moved out of the inner city and found its way to suburban areas, rural areas, and even the most affluent of areas. Addiction does not see color, economic status, gender, or any defining features in humans. This is evidenced most by just how deeply places like Orange County, CA have been impacted by the opioid epidemic.

What are Opioids?

Opioids are substances that either come directly from the opium poppy plant or are synthetically modified to produce the same effects that occur when a natural opioid (like morphine or codeine) are abused. Opioids bind to the opioids receptors in the brain, depressing the functions of the body. Because of this, opioids are highly effective in treating pain when taken as prescribed. Unfortunately, however, opioids are widely abused, which results in effects such as slowed respiratory rate, confused speech, low blood pressure, etc. Someone who is under the influence of opioids may appear sluggish, nod off mid-conversation, and develop shallow breathing. 

The Opioid Epidemic in Orange County

Orange County may be known for its beautiful sandy beaches with waves for days and mansions overlooking lush landscapes. But behind all the glamour and affluence that Orange County exudes, there is an opioid epidemic running rampant.

The California DOJ Controlled Substance Utilization Review & Evaluation Database (CURES) provides a more detailed look into just how pervasive the opioid epidemic Orange County is. They report the following:

  • In 2015, 45% of the four million prescriptions written to residents of Orange County were for opioid-based painkillers (e.g. hydrocodone, oxycodone)
  • Within that same year, a total of 1,711,809 prescriptions for opioids were dispensed to Orange County residents. Orange County is home to slightly more than 3.1 million people.
  • The average opioid-based prescription painkiller prescription was written for 72 pills, meaning that more than 122,000,000 pills were dispensed within just one year. This equals out to 40 pills per resident each year. 
  • The parts of Orange County that received the most opioids (643 – 1189 opioid prescriptions per 1,000 people) included Huntington Beach, Mission Viejo, Laguna Hills, and Dana Point. Following closely behind are Laguna Beach, Costa Mesa, and Newport Beach (552-643 opioid prescription per 1,000 people). These numbers reflect the ease with which some medical professionals continue to prescribe opioids despite the surge in opioid addiction in the area. 

Opioid Overdose Deaths in Orange County

From 2006 until 2012, Orange County was seeing higher rates of overdose deaths than the nationwide average. As of 2016, those rates have fallen below the national rate, but still remain higher than the entire state of California. The Orange County Health Care Agency & Sherriff-Coroner report the following statistics related to opioid overdose deaths in Orange County (2015):

  • An average 149 males died of opioid overdose while an average of 93 women died of opioid overdose each year
  • A whopping 82% of those who lost their lives to opioid overdose in Orange County were Non-Hispanic/White. This is partly due to the fact that the vast majority of residents in Orange County are of Caucasian descent. About 14% of opioid overdoses deaths occurred within the hispanic community. 
  • The average age of someone who suffers a fatal overdose in Orange County ranges between 45 and 54. On a national scale, the average age of someone who overdoses is 25-34. This gives a stronger insight into who is abusing opioids the most in the OC.
  • The opioids most responsible for fatal overdoses in Orange County included natural/semi-synthetic opioids (66%), heroin (20%), methadone (15%), and other synthetic opioids (12%).
  • The cities that saw the most deadly opioid overdoses in Orange County include Huntington Beach, Costa Mesa, Laguna Woods, Laguna Hills, Laguna Beach, Laguna Niguel, and Dana Point
  • Opioid-related emergency room visits occurred in more than 70 people per every 100,000 persons, while opioid-related hospitalizations occurred in just less than 40 people per every 100,000 persons. By 2016, the opioid overdose death rate sat just below 10 people per every 100,000 persons.

Similar to other areas of the country, the opioid epidemic has spiraled out of control in Orange County for a number of reasons. Many medical professionals who are able to prescribe opioids have continually overprescribed their patients in the Orange County area. Conversely, residents of Orange County tend to have a more affluent lifestyle, providing them with the funds and resources to obtain prescription opioids if and when they want them. And, because the average age of those who abuse the most opioids falls in between the late 40’s and early 50’s, many younger adults and teenagers are able to easily access prescription opioids from their parents’ medicine cabinets, expanding the use of these medications further. 

1 Solution Wellness in Orange County

We know how painful opioid addiction is. We understand that you want help but are afraid to get it out of fear of what your life might become. We hear these concerns all-too-often. But, what we can assure you is that with our treatment resources and services, we can help show you why getting sober and into recovery is one thousand times better than staying hooked to opioids. With our support, you can overcome your active addiction and begin building a life for yourself that is happy, healthy, and free from opioid abuse and addiction.

Do not wait. Do not let another moment pass you by before you reach out and ask for help. You never know if your next hit could be your last. Save yourself by calling 1 Solution Wellness right now.

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