Someone holding a container of fentanyl.

The Increase in Fentanyl Use in California and Where to Get Treatment

Over the past decade, fentanyl use has significantly increased around the country. The substance itself is one of the most powerful opiates on the market and has led to nearly half of the opioid-related deaths within the U.S. 

Many people who aren’t aware of the fatal consequences of fentanyl abuse are more likely to try the drug out of curiosity or even through other drug addictions — if your substance of choice is unknowingly cut with fentanyl — which can have dire consequences. 

But fentanyl use continues to grow nationwide, leading to increased overdoses and a higher drug fatality rate. In addition to these dangers, fentanyl can also cause both long-term and short-term health problems, lead to severe mental health issues and cause complications in several areas of your life. 

As compared with other drugs, fentanyl abuse can be particularly dangerous since it’s more potent than other opioids and is often combined with other drugs. 

These two factors significantly increase the potential for a fatal overdose and are driving the surge of fentanyl use and abuse within California.

Why Opioids?

The opioid crisis sweeping across our nation has taken countless lives and destroyed others beyond repair for over a decade. Astonishingly, nearly thirteen people die every day from drug overdoses in California and fentanyl has been shown to be one of the biggest contributors of this devastating issue. 

In San Francisco, drug users are dying at a rate of nearly two a day, many on the streets of the city’s Tenderloin District. Santa Clara County saw the number of fentanyl deaths more than double last year with victims on average younger than in previous years. In San Diego, fentanyl is coursing through the homeless population. 

The lab-made drug was barely seen in western states before 2017, but regardless, between 2017 and 2018, fentanyl overdose deaths in California rose by over 70% and continue to plague the state to this day.1

Opioid Trends in California

Some disturbing trends within the state include:

  • Fentanyl overtook heroin as the deadliest drug in America in 2018
  • A decade ago, fentanyl was involved in just 4% of overdose deaths, now that number is well over 40%
  • Within the last five years, fentanyl overdoses in California have increased 2100% 
  • Last year alone, fentanyl and other synthetic opioids killed almost 4000 people in California
  • In all of 2019, there were 152 fentanyl-related deaths in San Diego County. But in the first six months of 2020, there were 203.2

Why Has There Been an Increase in Fentanyl Use & Addiction in California?

Once upon a time California boasted one of the lowest opioid-related deaths per capita in the entire country. However, with a new wave of deaths that have been attributed to fentanyl use within the state, authorities are worried that the synthetic opioid is now burning across the state like a wildfire. 

With California’s huge population, the epidemic that has already plagued the rest of the country is set to impact the state of California much worse. One of the biggest factors behind the rapidly expanding fentanyl problem in California is its proximity to covert drug labs in Mexico. 

According to recent studies, the Sinaloa and Jalisco cartels are increasingly taking over fentanyl production and distribution from previous sources like China. Because of this proximity and increased border production, a new wave of deaths from fentanyl started to spread in early January of this year. 

Both criminal investigations and recent research has shown that the majority of fentanyl that makes it to the United States is being trafficked across the southern border.3  Add to that the increasingly common practice of dealers substituting fentanyl for other drugs, without informing the users, and you can begin to understand the magnitude of the problem. 

You see, fentanyl is a completely synthetic opioid that is manufactured in a laboratory where it’s much cheaper to produce than heroin. People selling the drug illegally will routinely mix low quality drugs with fentanyl to boost potency or substitute it entirely. 

However, because fentanyl is 50 times stronger than pure heroin, the difference between a recreational dose and one that is lethal can literally be measured in micrograms. Meaning, when you take your accustomed dose of what you think is heroin, a potentially fatal accidental overdose can easily occur.4 

Where to Start with Opioid Addiction Treatment

Admitting you need help to overcome your addictive impulses is not easy. But finding the strength and courage to face your disease with the help and guidance of a clinically qualified treatment facility is the best way to begin your path back to sobriety. 

The dangers associated with a substance like fentanyl, combined with the way it’s rapidly spreading across the state, make addressing your substance use disorder more important than ever. 

The holistic techniques implemented at Ranch Creek Recovery takes all your addictive behaviors into consideration, including the need to potentially detox and the importance of engaging your mind, body and soul to heal the damage inflicted by your addiction and begin your life anew.

Life-Changing, Holistic Opioid Addiction Treatment at Ranch Creek Recovery

For any individual who is contending with a substance use disorder and wants to regain control over their entire life, you must believe that your life can begin again. It’s our firm belief at Ranch Creek Recovery that addicts can recover from their disease and can rebuild abstinent, productive lives.

If you’re addicted to opioids or have a loved one who is in the grips of an opioid addiction, there is help.

We address addiction recovery and relapse prevention head on through our non-12-step, individualized, holistic addiction treatment programs. Our team of treatment experts will work one-on-one with you to create a custom treatment and recovery plan that will help you feel confident and ready to enter your new, sober life.

Learn more about Ranch Creek Recovery, including our opioid detox and rehab programs.

Have questions? We’re here to help in any way we can. Contact us today. 


CALL NOW: (877) 997-8931



1 California Department of Public Health. California 2018 Opioid Data. Accessed July 31, 2021.

2 DA News Center. ​​Fentanyl Overdose Deaths Spike in San Diego. Accessed July 31, 2021.

3 Drug Enforcement Administration. National Drug Threat Assessment. Accessed July 31, 2021.

4 The Guardian. Enough fentanyl to kill San Francisco: the new wave of the opioid crisis sweeping California. Accessed July 31, 2021.