Escondido: Drug Abuse Statistics and Local Treatment Guide

Treatment Options in the Escondido Area

There are several local, county, and state resources for treatment available to Escondido, California, residents.

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Substance Abuse Struggles in Escondido

Escondido, California, is a medium-sized city with a population of almost 150,000 people. Located in San Diego County, Escondido is near California’s border with Mexico, so people who live in the area are more likely to be exposed to harmful illicit drugs alongside other harmful substances like alcohol and opioids.

There are 298 mental health care professionals for every 100,000 people in Escondido, which is a higher ratio than larger cities like Los Angeles, which have 272 healthcare specialists for every 100,000 people. There are also about 57 other health care providers for every 100,000 Escondido residents. As a result, there is decent access to substance abuse treatment for those who suffer from this problem.

Further Reading

man abusing alcohol

The Most Abused Drugs in Escondido and San Diego County

At the state level, California has lower rates of drug abuse, overdose, and related death from all drugs, and from opioids in particular, compared to the rest of the nation. However, individual cities and counties suffer from drug and alcohol abuse problems among their residents at different rates. California is one of the largest states in the county, so there is a wide variety of substance abuse issues across the state.

Here are some of the most abused substances in Escondido. The San Diego County Medical Examiner’s 2016 report found that unintentional drug-related deaths, involving both prescription and illicit drugs, rose for several years in a row, with 544 overdose deaths reported in 2016, up a lot from the 268 reported in 2000.

Between 2006 and 2007, all drug-related poisonings (one of the medical terms for overdose) overtook other forms of accidental death in San Diego County, like suicides, motor vehicle accidents, and firearms accidents, as the leading cause of death in the area. According to San Diego County, the 10 most common drugs leading to death in 2011 were:

Below, we’ve outlined some of the more current rates on widely abused drugs in Escondido and San Diego County.


The term excessive drinking, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), means binge drinking, heavy drinking, alcohol use disorder, and any alcohol consumption while pregnant. Although Escondido residents and others in San Diego County do not report the highest rates of excessive drinking in California, too many people there still engage in this practice.

A 2017 report found that 19.7 percent of people living in San Diego County drank excessively. While the highest rate was San Francisco County at 23 percent, San Diego County is not significantly lower than that. Just over 29 percent of driving deaths in San Diego County involved alcohol in some way, which was fortunately a lower rate than much of California, but it still represents almost a third of the county’s driving-related deaths.

According to a 2017 San Diego County report, there were 357 deaths that could be linked to alcohol. However, many people abuse alcohol along with other substances, which is called polysubstance abuse. The report found that 127 people abused alcohol and prescription drugs, leading to death; five people died from mixing heroin and alcohol; and 15 people died from mixing alcohol, prescription drugs, and heroin.

Prescription Opioids

In 2017 alone, there were 436 opioid (excluding heroin) overdose emergency room admissions across San Diego County, according to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). There were also more than 1.7 million opioid prescriptions in that county that year, meaning that there are still a large number of prescription painkillers being released in San Diego County despite the national push to change opioid prescribing practices. There were 39.1 opioid pain pills prescribed in 2015 for every resident of San Diego County.

In 2015, there were 15,177 total treatment admissions for adults, ages 18 and older, in the county; 4.3 percent of those reported abusing prescription pain medications, and 28.6 percent reported abusing heroin. The report followed statistics from 2011 to 2015 and found that the number of people entering treatment due to heroin addiction rose while the rate of prescription opioid treatment admissions remained about the same.

Illicit Opioids

Heroin has been one of the largest problems in the opioid abuse and overdose epidemic, but illicitly produced fentanyl is now threatening the nation, leading to rapid overdoses among people struggling with heroin addiction who do not know that they are abusing fentanyl instead.

In San Diego County, a 2018 report found that street drugs, especially heroin and cocaine, laced with fentanyl were leading to numerous deaths all over the county. In one year, between 2016 and 2017, the death rate from opioid overdoses in the county tripled, according to CDPH. The fentanyl overdose mortality death rate was also two times higher than California’s death rate; out of 275 opioid overdoses in San Diego County, about half of those were due to fentanyl.

Between 2007 and 2017, heroin abuse rose as tighter controls on prescription opioids were put into place, and heroin became easier to find due to trafficking across the California-Mexico border. In 2007, there were reportedly 58 deaths from heroin in San Diego County; by 2017, that was up to 86 people.

Other Prescription Drugs

Although opioid painkillers were the most abused and widely prescribed medications in San Diego County in 2015, there were also high rates of anti-anxiety drugs, usually benzodiazepines like Xanax and Klonopin, along with high rates of prescription stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin. That year, there were 13.1 benzodiazepine pills for every resident in San Diego County, and there were five pills for every resident.

There were about 130 overdose deaths involving prescription drugs in 2015, which did not involve other drugs or alcohol; 35 overdose deaths had a prescription drug and alcohol; 61 overdose deaths involved a prescription drug and an illicit drug; 13 deaths involved a prescription drug, an illicit drug, and alcohol; 5 involved a prescription drug and an over-the-counter medication like acetaminophen; and 2 deaths involved a prescription and any other substance.

Between 2007 and 2017, prescription drugs other than opioids were abused more often, leading to more deaths. During that decade, the number of people who died from abusing prescription drugs almost doubled, from 34 in 2007 to 65 in 2017.


Across the United States, methamphetamine abuse has mostly declined with other harmful substances like heroin becoming the primary drugs of abuse. However, in Southern California, meth abuse is returning to prominence as superlabs in Mexico are producing the drug and sending it into the U.S. via the California border.

In San Diego County, including Escondido, more people are dying because of meth overdoses. In 2013, there were 190 deaths in the county from meth, a significant jump from previous years. Further reports suggest that most people who abuse meth are 30 or older, who struggled with addiction to this substance in the epidemic in the early 2000s and have now returned to abusing meth as it is easier to find in large quantities. Unfortunately, as more superlab meth enters Southern California, a younger generation of people who struggle with illicit drug abuse will turn to this substance.

The San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Report found that meth-involved deaths continued to rise in 2016. Out of the 544 reported overdose deaths in 2016, 240 of those cases involved meth, hitting its highest fatality rate in 16 years.

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How San Diego County Helps Escondido Residents

Because substance abuse risks and rates are so high in cities like Escondido, particularly involving prescription and illicit drugs, San Diego County plans to triple spending to combat opioid abuse and addiction along with other substance abuse struggles. In 2018, this treatment plan premiered and was approved by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.

There are also dozens of options for treatment you can access right now before you suffer legal, financial, social, and mental health problems associated with drug and alcohol abuse. Reach out for that help today.

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Behavioral Health Services List. County of San Diego Health and Human Services.

Behavioral Health Services: Emergency Services. County of San Diego Health and Human Services.

Prescription Drug Drop Boxes. San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.

Escondido, CA.

Medical Examiner: Pedestrian, Meth Deaths up in 2016. (August 31, 2017). The Times-Advocate Escondido, California.

Local Statistics. San Diego Rx Drug Abuse Task Force.

San Diego Prescription Drug Abuse Medical Task Force. (February 19, 2013). San Diego County.

Fact Sheets – Alcohol Use and Your Health. (January 3, 2018). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The Status of Prescription Drug and Heroin Abuse in San Diego County. (2018). Rx Drug Abuse Task Force, San Diego County.

San Diego Numbers at a Glance. California Department of Public Health (CDPH).

San Diego County Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force 2016 Rx Report Card. (October 2016). Rx Drug Abuse Task Force, San Diego County.

Deaths Surge From Fentanyl-Laced Street Drugs In San Diego County. (June 7, 2018). KPBS.

Meth, Heroin Deaths Climb in SD. (July 19, 2014). The San Diego Union-Tribune.

County to Triple Spending on Opioid, Substance Abuse Disorders. (March 26, 2018). ABC 7 San Diego.