The Orange County is located in California, a U. S state and has quite a large population amounting to more than three million residents. As a result, statistics indicate that it is the third most populous county in the state of California. It also takes the sixth position in all the counties in the United States.
This county seems to be active throughout that year, due to the millions of tourists that come to enjoy the popular beaches that are along the sixty-four kilometer (forty miles) coastline. These outsiders also love to visit places like Disneyland, which is known to be the best kids’ entertainment spot and Knott’s Berry Farm.
Due to the in and out flow of tourists, business activities in cities like Newport Beach, Dana Point, Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach and San Clemente are always booming. With so much income, the living standards are high. However, that does not discourage Orange County residents from indulging in surf competitions, among others.
Unfortunately, this kind of attention also leads to high rates of crime. Luckily, the law enforcers in the county are vigilant enough to keep the citizens safe and bring justice upon victims of crime.
Drug Abuse and Addiction
Drug abuse and addiction is a problem that has existed for centuries. It began as a small issue but is now a menace that is hardly controllable. Even the law enforcers in any state across the world cannot guarantee that drugs will not get into a country, regardless of the laws put in place.
The National Institute of Drug Abuse defines drug abuse as the usage or consumption of chemical substances that cause increased risks of issues, such as physical, emotional, behavioral and psychological problems.
Since some of these chemical substances are helpful to the human body if consumed correctly, drug abuse can also be termed as misusing drugs or medications. This issue is a public health problem, which is known to cause misery upon families and the entire community, both directly and indirectly.
The National Institute of Drug Abuse goes further to relate drug abuse and addiction by concluding that the continuation of the former leads to the latter in the long run. Therefore, addiction is a chronic relapsing disorder that has characteristic such as drug usage regardless of the adverse consequences faced and compulsive seeking of the drug.
As a drug addiction kicks in and proceeds, it turns into a brain disorder since the drugs alter the functionality of the bran circuits. The alterations that happen affect parts of the brain that control stress, reward and self control.
As a result, most addiction physicians refer to it as an illness like heart disease, since it disrupts the normal functioning of body organs and results to harmful effects. Despite that it is preventable and also treatable, lack of treatment could mean that the effects will last a life time, or could also cause death in the long run.
Drug Abuse and Addiction in Orange County
The National Survey on Drugs Use and Health concludes that the whole of the United States is affected by the usage of illicit substances and prescription pills abuse. This came after a research that was conducted in 2015, whose results indicated that at least twenty-seven million and one hundred thousand people abused drugs.
As a result of this tendency, USA has seen an increase in the death rates due to overdose. The Center of Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality reported more than forty-seven thousand drug related deaths in the same year. Sixty percent of these deaths were as a result of opioids like prescription drugs and heroin.
As a place located in one of the United States, the Orange County’s drug abuse data shows a similar trend. Between 2000 and 2017, the Orange County Health Care Agency (OCHCA) reported eighty-eight percent increase in the deaths related to drug overdose. These statistics indicate that the drug abuse and addiction rate in the county is an issue that raises concern.
It is not a surprise that a high percentage of residents of the various cities in OC abuse and are addicted to drugs. The place has a lifestyle that seems to motivate them to indulge. With the frequent parties held as tourists come and go, fun goes to another level as body tolerance increases.
Since money seems to be less of a problem, alcohol abusers consume more of it, as others graduate to consuming stronger psychoactive substances like cocaine. While living this hyper kind of life, these parties never end.
OCHCA concluded that men were more affected than women, since they got hospitalized due to alcohol or drug related incidents. This trend remained the same in the death reports; men died more than women.
Additionally, the survey indicated that the cities in the coastal and southern regions were the most affected as they seemed to have higher alcohol and drug related rates of hospitalization and deaths, as compared to other cities.
As the OCHCA continued to carry out investigations regarding drug abuse and addiction in Orange County, it discovered more information, which includes the following:
- Each year, seven hundred deaths occur out of over five thousand and five hundred hospitalizations due to substance abuse.
- These hospitalizations’ average length is about 4.3 days, and results to a total of four hundred and thirty million US dollars.
- About seventy-nine percent of these deaths occur accidentally, fifty-two percent are caused by prescription drugs and about sixty-seven are opioids related.
Abuse Statistics According to Various Drugs
The Orange County Health Care Agency conducted a study on alcohol use in this region and discovered that its use is linked to ethnic background and gender. In 2012, men consumed more alcohol as compared to women, especially the White adults. The prevalence of alcohol consumption also increased with age, especially among persons between 45 and 64 years.
In regards to social demographics, persons with higher levels of education as well as stable financially consumed much alcohol as compared to lower educational and income status. More than ten percent of these people also drunk heavily before driving cars, in this same year.
- Illicit Drugs
The mostly abused illicit drugs in Orange County include heroin, marijuana and cocaine. At least thirty-four percent of the OC adults have abused these drugs once. Marijuana seems to be the most abused drug in this region, as 33% of the adults claiming to use it on a regular basis. On the other hand, 13% of the adults are cocaine users, while the rest, 1%, were quite comfortable with heroin.
- Prescription Drugs
Since some prescription drugs are known to be psychoactive, the Orange County residents took advantage since a while back and have been abusing four different categories, including: sedatives, stimulants, pain relievers and tranquilizers. According to the 2012 survey, at least six percent confessed to have used some of the medications for non-medical reasons at least once.
Since this survey was conducted, the hospitalization rates for issues related to alcohol and drug abuse and addiction have never improved. About forty-eight percent of the patients that continually visit the hospitals in OC suffer from psychological side-effects caused by alcohol or drug withdrawal. Twenty-four percent of these patients suffer from chronic drug or alcohol dependence syndrome.
The OCHCA made other discoveries regarding drug abuse in the Orange County, which raised more alarm. They include the following:
- More than twenty-six percent of the hospital visits are due to accidental poisonings, related to opioids or benzos.
- Hospitalization rates are quite different among the races; Non-Hispanic Whites stand at 78%, Hispanics are about 14%, Asians at 3% and African Americans come last at 2 %.
- Deaths due to illicit drugs overdose also differ depending on the races; Hispanics are twice likely to die than Whites. On the hand, Whites are more likely to succumb to prescription drugs overdose more than Hispanics.
Mental Health Disorders Occurrence
In the past ten years, there have been 51.4 % hospitalizations relating to mental health and substance abuse in every 10,000 residents. The only changes that have occurred are a decrease in older adults that are above 65 years and a 44% increase among children and youth between 0-17 years. Depression, which is a mental health related issue, has been the leading cause of these hospitalizations.
Other findings regarding mental health disorders in OC due to drugs include the following:
- Among the patients hospitalized with self-inflicted injuries in 2015, 80% seemed to suffer from mental disorders.
- 16% of these were hardly dependent on alcohol or other drugs.
- 3 % had a alcohol addiction problem
- 3% suffered from drug addiction and another 3% suffered from alcohol induced mental disorders
- 8% had disorders induced by other drugs.
As mentioned earlier, drug abuse and addiction is dangerous and could lead to multiple health consequences that claim lives after a long period of time. Most drug abusers and addicts are lucky to find that the drugs are destructive and thus pursue treatment, through rehabilitation.
Drug rehabilitation entails psychotherapeutic or medical treatment for psychoactive substance dependency. These drugs range from street drugs to, prescription to alcohol. The focus of the drug rehabilitation process is to help an addict by cleansing the body through detoxification, and confronting the whole drug dependency issue as a whole through therapies among other recovery process.
Drug rehabilitation is beneficial because it helps in treating both the physical and psychological problems that drug abuse and addiction causes. Additionally, it helps one avoid the occurrence or continuation of financial, legal and social consequences, alongside the former mentioned.
Drug Rehab in Orange County
After years of research, Orange County discovered that a high percentage of its people would perish if treatment for drug addicts does not commence immediately. The county government figured out that the high death rates that would occur due to drug-related health issues would affect the working population thus cause a downward performance of the county’s economy and revenue.
What’s more, there would be an outbreak of wrecked families and orphaned children, since drug abuse and addiction greatly affect families. Children from such homes or orphans would have multiple psychological issues that would affect their performance in school. The lucky ones would end up with mediocre working skills and thus worsen the county performance. The rest would become just like their fathers, mothers or siblings, simply drug addicts and the cycle would continue to spiral.
OC Treatment Statistics
With these facts at hand, the county began offering outpatient and residential treatment programs to the addicts that seeked help. Therefore, about fifty-six percent of the drug patients preferred the outpatient programs, while the other forty-four percent went into residential programs that lasted more than a month.
According to OCHCA, 29% of the admissions were a combination of self, criminal justice and other community referrals. Like mentioned earlier, the men admission rate was higher than that of women. 55% of the patients were White and 36% were Hispanic. Mixed race, African Americans and Asians constituted to about 3% of these admission, as Native Americans took 1%.
Since adults were the most abusers of drugs and still are, they were at 76%. 38% of these persons did not have any sources of income and did not bother to seek employment, while 34% lacked work but still struggled to find it. Notably, nearly 100 annual admissions were U.S veterans.
As treatment proceeded, 23% of the admitted patients were diagnosed with mental disorders, while 14% already had medication for the same, meaning the issues began before drug abuse and addiction. The admission rates according to the drugs abused are such as the following:
- Methamphetamine patients amounted to 44%
- The heroin addicts added up to 20%
- Alcohol abusers and addicts were about 18%
- Marijuana consumers ranged at 13%
- Opiates consumers were just 2%
- Sedatives consumers were about 1%
The move to provide outpatient or residential long term treatment programs bore fruit and thus was a wise decision for by the county government. The OCHCA conducted a survey to find out the impact of the rehabilitation treatment offered to drug abusers and addicts.
It is obvious that this approach would lead to positive results. After treatment, 53% of the patients completely stopped using drugs. The legal status of most patients changed as it improved. The arrests reduced by 65% before discharge, the jail sentences reduced by 75 % and also the prison sentences were fewer by 78 %.
Due to the behavioral therapy that the majority of the patients received and adhered to, their employment status changed as 107% more adults received employment after discharge.
- The ER visits reduced by 32%
- The overnight hospitalization reduced by 42 %
- The ER psychiatric visits also reduced by 23%
- 52 % of the recovered addicts had fewer family conflicts
- 5% of these individuals also stopped living or associating with substances abusers
- Adults that were using social support services increased by 32%
- Adults that were still homeless after treatment reduced by 29%
National Institute on Drug Abuse Response
The National Institute on Drug Abuse verified this performance in the Orange County and motivated the county government to offer programs and treatment forms that are more extensive, with the combination of both psychological and medical treatment.
NIDA went further to give the requirements of any other facilities that would bring an upgrade of drug rehabilitation. They include the following:
- The programs and facilities should be in a position to help the patient quit substance abuse completely
- These programs and treatments should ensure that the patients manage to resist cravings and thus manage to maintain sobriety for life
- These programs must have a way to ensure that the patients acquire knowledge in regards to reintegrating into society.
Orange County Rehabilitation Programs
Due to the positive results in the first approach towards drug rehab and the motivation from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the county focused on upgrading its rehab programs to incorporate the following, which are still incorporated till date.
- 12-step programs
The 12-step program comprises of a set of principles that offer guidance, in regards to the course of action that one should follow while recovering from addiction. According to the American Psychological Association, this process involves;
- Admitting that your addiction to drugs is out of control
- Letting yourself recognize that you can get strength from a higher power
- Using a sponsor to examine past errors
- Trying your best to make amends for the errors found
- Building a new life through the utilization of a new behavior code
- Helping other people that suffer from substance addiction
- The OC Health Care Agency offers some resources as well as guidance
- Sober living homes
As drug addicts recover from addiction in the inpatient facility, they need somewhere that resembles the real world before they actually join it. Therefore, the sober living homes act as a bridge between these two places. As the Orange County residents continually recovery, they may stay in group homes where they pay some amount of money as rent and contribute to the upkeep of the house through chores.
- Non-profit or Free Substance Abuse Treatment Centers
Some of the drug addicts in Orange County are unemployed and thus cannot afford to pay for drug rehabilitation. These people still need help because most are determined to be better, look for jobs and rebuild their lives. Therefore, non-profit or free centers substance abuse treatment centers give these people opportunities to receive treatment without having to deliver compensation. With this approach, even the homeless in the cities of Orange County have the opportunity to have better lives.
- Detox centers either private or state funded
The detoxification centers are quite helpful in clearing toxins from the bodies of drug addicts, before proceeding to the rehabilitation. These facilities can either be funded by the private corporations in the county or the county itself. The private are a bit more expensive like most private hospitals, while the state/ county funded facilities are relatively cheap.
Types of Facilities
The above programs can fall into the following categories; inpatient and outpatient facilities.
- Inpatient Facilities
The inpatient facilities in the Orange County are known to succeed the most especially for those persons that are deep into addiction. The staffs ensure that the patients receive twenty-four hour clock services as they stay and receive treatment. The patients have access to variety of programs such as physical activity, yoga and meditation. The only challenge is that these facilities are quite expensive ad require one to give up responsibilities, work and school for a while.
- Outpatient Facilities
Persons whose drug abuse is just mild or moderate are suitable for these facilities. They do not have to be admitted to receive treatments so they can proceed to daily activities in the county while still accessing clinics to see their doctors. Additionally, people that do not have adequate funds to secure treatment may utilize these facilities.
Examples of Drug Rehab Centers in Orange County
- Beachside Nursing Center, based in Huntington Beach
- Chapman House, based in Tustin
- Anaheim Lighthouse, based in Anaheim
- Just One Recovery, based in Orange
- Windward Way Recovery, based Costa Mesa
- The Edge Treatment Centre, based Santa Ana
- St Elizabeth Healthcare, based in Fullerton
- Healthcare Centre of Orange County, based in Buena Park
In conclusion, drug abuse and addiction has clearly stricken Orange County for decades. The statistics indicate that the place has a lifestyle that seems to encourage usage of psychoactive substances. Nevertheless, the measures in place ensure that the persons willing to recover and live better lives are catered for and integrated back into society.
With the multiple approaches, the drug menace can reduce to a certain level, as the county works towards having more developmental projects.