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Addiction Statistics in Orange County

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Orange County is known for its sunshine-filled days and gated communities that are tucked away in the suburbs, not too far from Disneyland and the famous Knott’s Berry Farm. About 34 major cities make up the entire county, including Newport Beach, Santa Ana, and Irvine. It is one of the most densely populated parts of the country, as it is home to nearly 3.2 million people. Orange County is a highly desirable place to live for these reasons and more. But, despite the outward appearance of endless summer days and white sand beaches is a much darker reality shown by the recent addiction statistics in Orange County. 

Orange County is not exempt by any means to the disease of addiction. In fact, roughly 35% of adults living in Orange County have used illicit drugs at least once in their lives. This is slightly lower than the national average for this same statistic, which is 49%. Some of the most pressing addiction-related issues facing this particular part of the country include the opioid crisis and accelerating rates of overdoses. 

Opioid Crisis in Orange County

There’s no doubt that the United States of America is caught in the continued throes of a nationwide opioid epidemic. In fact, despite being referred to as an “epidemic” for years, the situation has escalated so significantly that it is now known as a “crisis”. Today, the national dispensing rate of opioids across the nation is at a whopping 46.7 per every 100 people. More prescription opioids than ever before have been written out to people in counties like Orange County, continually fueling the opioid crisis. Plus, heroin, fentanyl, and other illicit opioids continue to flood the streets as a result of high demand. 


The Drug and Alcohol Morbidity and Mortality in Orange County report, put together with the Orange CountySheriff’s Office in 2017, highlights how significant of a problem opioid abuse and addiction is in regards to overdoses in this specific part of California. 

The addiction statistics in Orange County show that more than 5,500 hospitalizations occur each year in the area as a result of drug or alcohol overdoses. On top of that, roughly 700 Orange County residents lose their lives to overdoses each year. The most startling aspect about these overdoses, however, is that 56% of all overdoses involved opioids. 

Opioids are depressant substances, meaning that when abused, they depress the functions of the body. Respiratory rate, heart rate, motor function, and cognition all slow down when under the influence of opioids. This is why those who abuse opioids often appear detached and subdued. However, when too large of a number of opioids is consumed, it can create deadly consequences. This includes slowing respiratory rate down so much that the user dies of asphyxiation. Unfortunately, this is how the vast majority of opioid overdoses occur.

Orange County coroner’s reports showed that women are 1.6 times more likely to overdose on prescription drugs than men. Some of the reasons for addiction statistics like this are the presence of fentanyl. Fentanyl is an opioid 100 times more powerful than morphine. Today, many illicit drugs are cut with fentanyl without users even knowing it. Instead, this is done to help expand the number of drugs a dealer has, thus increasing their income. A mere 2 mg of fentanyl can be fatal. Studies show that with all types of mind-altering substances, women tend to overdose faster due to their bodies generally being smaller than males. 

Addiction Statistics in Orange County: Benzodiazepines and Other Prescription Drugs 

The same report that determined how deeply the opioid crisis has impacted the people of Orange County also shed light on the county’s problems with other mind-altering substances. For instance, 54%of all hospitalizations for drug overdoses or poisonings were due to a combination of benzodiazepines and opioids. 

Benzodiazepines, such as Xanax, Klonopin, and Valium, work to help calm down GABA in the brain. GABA is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter for the central nervous system. Those who experience anxiety disorders often have low GABA activity in their brains, causing the onset of anxiety-related symptoms. Benzodiazepines, however, can help to increase GABA activity in the brain, allowing for a reduction in symptoms. Those who abuse benzodiazepines tend to do so for the high they obtain. Benzos produce a sense of detachment, relaxation, and euphoria. 

Approximately 35% of all overdoses in Orange County involved a combination of prescription drugs like benzodiazepines and alcohol. The abuse of these two substances together is extremely common. They enhance the effects of one another, producing a more intense high. 

Opioid Rehab in California

Research shows that coastal cities in Orange County experience higher rates of drug and alcohol-related hospitalization. With several of the cities in the OC being by the shore, we understand just how much this can impact the community. If you are struggling with a substance use disorder and need help, do not wait any longer to get in touch with us. We can help you put an end to your active substance abuse and begin living a happier, healthier life.

Contact us right now to learn more about how Pacific Sands Recovery can help.

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