Breaking free from an addiction isn’t easy, especially when the drug is all around you. Over the past few decades, widespread opioid misuse has created a public health emergency throughout the United States. Many people have become victims of substance use disorder because of an increase in prescriptions for opioid medications and a lack of information.
In the 1990s, pharmaceutical companies wrongfully told the medical community that prescribing opioid pain relievers wouldn’t cause addiction in patients. Health care providers started handing out prescriptions for the drug at a higher rate, causing an epidemic in our communities.
The use of both prescription and non-prescription opioids has led to an alarming rate of overdoses, proving the drug is a highly addictive substance. San Diego County data shows an increase in opioid overdose nearly every year, despite having drug prevention measures in place.
What Are Opioids?
Opioids are highly addictive substances used for treating pain. A prescription opioid can be issued by a doctor to treat moderate to severe pain. Common prescriptions include:
- Oxycodone (OxyContin)
- Hydrocodone (Vicodin)
These drugs are often prescribed after surgery, to treat an injury or for health conditions such as cancer. In recent years, opioid prescriptions to treat chronic pain, such as osteoarthritis or back pain, have dramatically increased, despite the lack of evidence regarding their effectiveness.
Common Side Effects of Prescription Opioids
Prescription opioid use poses serious risks of overdose, addiction and abuse. It also comes with a range of side effects, even when taken according to instructions from pharmaceutical companies. Side effects include:
- Vomiting, dry mouth and nausea
- Increased sensitivity to pain
- Itching and sweating
- Dizziness and sleepiness
- Low levels of testosterone, resulting in lower energy, strength, and sex drive
- Tolerance, resulting in an increased dosage for the same amount of relief
- Physical dependence, leading to withdrawal symptoms when medication usage stops
Anyone who takes opioids is subject to addiction. Health statistics report one in four patients who receive long-term opioid therapy in a clinical setting struggle with drug addiction.
Heroin is an illegal, highly addictive opioid. The drug is typically injected by a needle but can be snorted or smoked. People often use heroin along with other drugs and alcohol, increasing the risk of overdose. A heroin overdose can cause shallow breathing, coma or even death. Long-term viral infections can also be caused by heroin, including Hepatitis C or B, HIV, and bacterial infections of the heart, skin and bloodstream.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid approved by medical professionals to use as a treatment for severe pain, such as advanced cancer pain. As a prescription opioid, it comes as a lozenge or transdermal patch and is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine. Like with other opioid misuse, abusing fentanyl can lead to an increased risk of addiction.
Because of its heroin-like effect, fentanyl is sold through illegal drug markets and often combined with cocaine or heroin to increase the euphoric effect. Side effects of fentanyl include nausea, difficulty breathing, constipation, loss of consciousness, and confusion.
Opioid Epidemic in San Diego
The opioid crisis is a growing concern throughout California. Opioid overdose deaths have increased within the past decade, rendering the epidemic a public health crisis. According to the California Overdose Surveillance Dashboard, 2020 saw 5,502 deaths related to opioid overdose, 3,946 deaths related to fentanyl overdose, 16,537 emergency visits related to an opioid overdose and over 14 million prescriptions given out for opioids.
Data shows the opioid epidemic in the city of San Diego is following the same trend. In 2017, San Diego saw a record number of opioid overdose deaths at 450 and an additional 7,000 emergency room visits. Fentanyl has also largely contributed to overdose deaths. The County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency released data that reveals 233 suspected and confirmed fentanyl overdose deaths in 2020. To put this in perspective, data from the city shows 12 confirmed fentanyl overdose deaths in 2010.
There’s speculation that the Covid-19 pandemic has led to the increase in opioid overdose deaths in the country. National overdose data shows a rise in deaths throughout the pandemic. There are a few reasons why this might be the case. Isolation caused by social distancing may have pushed more people to turn to drugs as a coping mechanism. Individuals may have had less support from families and communities during these times and minimal access to substance abuse treatment centers, also due to social distancing or economic strain from job loss or reduced work.
How Is San Diego Addressing the Opioid Crisis?
Opioid epidemic prevention efforts have been made by the city government of San Diego through a cooperative agreement with county and community partners to educate the public on the dangers of opioids. The goal is to prevent prescription drug abuse and reduce opioid overdoses. The California Bridge Behavioral Health Navigator Program, an organization that provides hospital support for opioid addiction and mental health conditions, granted eight hospitals in San Diego County a total of $960,000 to address the opioid crisis in communities.
Another public safety prevention measure San Diego is taking to curb the opioid epidemic is installing 12 naloxone vending machines throughout the region. Naloxone is used to treat narcotic overdoses in emergency situations. By granting community access to this treatment, health officials are hoping to reduce death by opioid overdoses.
Additionally, UC San Diego Health has been chosen to participate in the California Bridge Program. This program is run by the Public Health Institute and provides sites with training, funding, and technical assistance for administering treatment to every San Diegan suffering from opioid use.
Opioid Addiction Treatment
While the city is doing a lot to fix the epidemic, substance addiction may require further prevention techniques. Once addicted, stopping can be hard, and individuals may experience an increase in opioid use before they get better if they don’t have the family or community support they need.
Ranch Creek Recovery is a drug rehab center near San Diego, just an hour’s drive north. To combat the opioid epidemic, our treatment centers offer resources and drug prevention efforts to help patients kick their addictions and reunite with their families and communities.
Residential Treatment Program
Our inpatient drug rehab program assists patients recovering from substance abuse. By using a holistic approach to treatment, our mission is to help residents improve all aspects of their lives impacted by drug or alcohol addiction. Our health care professionals use evidence-based approaches such as dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to address any underlying issues that may be causing addiction and to develop individualized prevention mechanisms.
Along with mental health resources, our rehab centers provide sound healing meditation, yoga and equine-assisted therapy. Our prevention efforts also recognize that a patient’s background can influence their addiction. If an individual is part of the Native American or LGBTQ+ community, we provide the support they need for their unique experiences. The addictions that we treat during inpatient rehab include:
- Prescription drugs
- Methamphetamine, meth or crystal meth
Patients are welcome to our program no matter what stage of addiction or recovery they’re in. We offer options for 30-day, 60-day or 90-day treatment. An initial assessment determines what length of stay is the best option.
Our heroin rehab center is meant to help individuals get their health back on track through addiction treatment. Located in the mountains of Temecula Valley, we serve as a retreat from the city for a small community of six clients at a time. We offer a range of resources such as holistic and experiential therapies that use evidence-based strategies to help individuals develop drug prevention techniques. Highly experienced staff help with withdrawal prevention by using nonaddictive medications.
Our fentanyl rehab center strives to reduce the public health epidemic caused by illicit fentanyl use. Fentanyl does have legitimate medical qualities for pain relief, but overdose data shows the drug is also highly addictive and prone to misuse. Most people are unknowingly exposed to fentanyl when using other substances, which is why it’s a hazard to public safety. Fentanyl is often used in counterfeit medications sold on the street, increasing the risk of addiction, overdoses and harm to public health.
A person struggling with fentanyl addiction may experience the following symptoms:
- Trouble paying attention
- Memory loss
- Intense cravings
- Poor judgment
- Altered sleep habits
- Slower body movements
- Constricted pupils
Even if someone knows they have a fentanyl dependency, the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms can deter them from stopping. Our rehab center provides resources such as medical supervision and medication management to make the process more comfortable and reduce the risk of overdoses.
Get Your Life Back on Track With Ranch Creek Recovery
The opioid epidemic in the Bay Area poses serious health risks to communities and families. If you or a loved one has been impacted by the epidemic, Ranch Creek Recovery has the resources needed to beat addiction and prevent overdose. Contact us today by calling to speak to a representative at (877) 997-8931. Get your health back on track and start living an addiction-free life today.