California: Millions of Residents Susceptible to Drug Abuse
As of 2018, there were almost 40 million people living in the large state of California. Spanning much of the coastline of the western United States, California is home to diverse people and ecosystems. Large cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles are famous for different types of opportunities, but most people who move to the new land don’t expect that they will come face-to-face with drug abuse. Unfortunately, millions of people in the beautiful state suffer from substance abuse and addiction problems. Fortunately, there is a lot of help available to California residents.
How Treatment Can Help Substance Abuse and Mental Health Problems
Young people: More adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 in California abused illicit drugs compared to the national average: 10.4 percent in the 2013–2014 survey year compared to 9.1 percent in that survey year around the U.S. Previous survey years report that California’s adolescents have always abused higher rates of illicit drugs, which include marijuana, heroin, cocaine, and MDMA. Young people living in California typically struggle with binge drinking at about the same rates as their peers across the rest of the country, although in 2013–2014, there were slightly more Californian adolescents struggling with this issue: 14.2 percent to 14 percent, respectively. This means that 702,000 people from ages 12 to 20 in California struggle with binge drinking, a dangerous practice that can lead to alcohol poisoning or accidental death. Between 2010 and 2014, 9.3 percent of California’s adolescents began abusing alcohol; 5.9 percent started abusing marijuana; and 2.9 percent began abusing psychotherapeutic drugs. Marijuana abuse is especially popular among adolescents and adults in California, so 79.9 percent of adolescents reported that they did not see anything wrong with smoking marijuana once or twice a month; in comparison, 76.5 percent of adolescents around the nation reported the same attitude. Nonmedical abuse of painkillers among adolescents in the state is going down, although it is consistently slightly higher than the national average. In 2013–2014, 4.9 percent of California’s adolescents, compared to 4.7 percent of U.S. adolescents, reported abusing painkillers for nonmedical reasons.
Adults: Among people ages 12 and older (mostly adults) in California, 6.7 percent reported being alcohol dependent in 2013–2014 compared to 6.5 percent nationally; this represents 2,127,000 people in California. However, 5.6 percent of adults reported heavy alcohol use in the state compared to 6.7 percent nationally. Slightly more adults in California also abused illicit drugs: 2.7 percent compared to the national rate of 2.6 percent.
Mental health: While substance abuse rates among adolescents and adults in California fluctuates, their rates of mental health struggles appear to be on the rise. Between 2013 and 2014, 11.5 percent of adolescents in California reported that they had at least once major depressive episode (MDE) compared to 11 percent nationally. This represents 355,00 adolescents in the state. Among the adolescents who received help, 72.7 percent reported that they experienced improved functioning. Among adults seeking mental health treatment, 36.9 percent reported getting help while 63.1 percent did not get necessary treatment. Still, this means that over 1.8 million adults in California did get treatment for mental health problems, which can help reduce or prevent substance abuse struggles. Around 70 percent of adults who received mental health treatment reported that they felt and functioned better.
Treatment rates: Among adolescents seeking treatment for depression, 30.5 percent in California received help, but 69.5 percent did not get the help they needed. Adults ages 18 and older in California reported lower levels of suicidal ideation compared to the rest of the country: 3.8 percent compared to 3.9 percent, respectively. However, this are still over 1 million adults in California struggling with suicidal thoughts. About 3.8 percent of adults in California reported serious mental illness (SMI) compared to 4.2 percent nationally, but this is nearly 1.1 million adults in California alone. Only 7.2 percent of those in California suffering alcohol abuse problems got the help they needed; 92.8 percent did not get treatment for alcohol struggles, which increases the risk of short-term and long-term problems, from drunk driving accidents to liver cancer. Among those abusing illicit drugs, 11.7 percent got treatment, and 88.3 percent did not get help.
Evidence-based treatment is the only way to overcome drug and alcohol addiction. The National Institutes on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that addiction is treated successfully all the time. Addiction treatment focuses on healing the body and changing behaviors, so you can have a balanced life and are more likely to seek help in the event of a relapse.
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