California Alcohol and Drug Abuse Statistics

The Golden State is home to men and women from all walks of life. Unfortunately, many of our residents struggle privately and publicly with substance abuse disorders. Alcohol and drug abuse impact all areas of our society.

Unfortunately, substance abuse is not limited to adults and often starts young. Some studies have found that even middle school-aged children have been using substances like alcohol, marijuana and prescription drugs. Thankfully, it seems that most young people do not escalate their use or begin abusing other substances.

Compared to the rest of the U.S., alcohol-related behaviors among high school students are slightly lower in California in many cases. Nearly three-quarters of high school students will have tried alcohol before graduation — 20 percent will have used prescription drugs for nonmedicinal purposes. Early age drug use can develop into substance abuse disorders later in life. Those who do not stop using or who are not given the help they need are more likely to become substance abusers as adults.

It's essential that these individuals get the support they need to overcome these challenges. Addiction treatment and detoxification centers like Diamond House Detox provide individualized treatment plans that help these individuals break free from their substance dependency and begin their journey towards sobriety.

Alcohol Abuse Statistics in California

Although many people can responsibly enjoy alcohol without causing themselves harm, unfortunately, alcoholism and alcohol abuse are significant problems in our country. It's estimated that over 12 percent of Americans can be diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder. Alcohol leads to tens of thousands of deaths each year and is the forth leading preventable cause of death in our country.

In California alone, excessive drinking results in over 70,000 hospitalizations and even leads to over 10,000 fatalities. Studies show that these results are more likely to happen to men than women. It's also noted that older adults are more likely to succumb to alcohol-related illnesses while younger adults are more prone to alcohol-related injuries. Regardless of age or gender, it's obvious that alcohol abuse is a serious problem that harms our neighbors, friends and family members — and that we must provide these individuals with professional help.

Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol abuse can be a tricky subject to discuss — and sometimes even trickier to identify. All of California's counties are considered "wet counties," which means that there are no geographical restrictions on legal alcohol sales. The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control has authorized thousands of businesses throughout the state to sell beer, wine and liquor. The legal and widespread availability of alcohol, as well as the social acceptability of binge drinking, can easily create opportunities for someone to abuse alcohol in social and private settings.

Some people drink a little, and some people drink a lot. One person may relax and drink a bottle of wine alone while another may find entertainment in drinking multiple beers with friends. Though the frequency and physical amount of alcohol ingested can be harmful to one's health, alcohol dependence isn't defined by a simple drink-count or length of time spent drinking. Alcohol dependence is a disease and can be identified through the presence of four significant factors — cravings, a loss of control, physical dependence and tolerance.

Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder

First, it's important to understand that binge drinking, alcohol abuse and alcoholism are not interchangeable terms. Binge drinking occurs when an individual drinks a lot within a short timeframe. For men, it's consuming five or more drinks within two hours while the amount for women is slightly lower at four drinks per two hours. Alcoholism, or alcohol dependence, occurs when an individual loses control over their drinking habits. Strong cravings and high tolerance cause the individual to consume increasing amounts of alcohol — without it, they experience withdrawal.

Alcohol abuse rests between binge drinking and alcohol dependence — you still feel the craving but are not yet physically dependent. This is still a serious problem that can negatively impact all aspects of your life, including your relationships with friends and family and your performance at school or work. When intoxicated, you may not think or act responsibly which could lead to legal problems like DUIs or other potentially life-threatening accidents. Some symptoms you may experience when suffering from an alcohol use disorder include:

  • Unplanned prolonged drinking, for instance, having more than three drinks when you only planned to have one or two.
  • An inability to stop or lessen your drinking despite the desire to.
  • Strong urges to drink even though drinking has negatively interfered with your personal, academic or professional life.
  • Continuing to drink even though it continues to cause mental or physical health problems or withdrawal symptoms.
  • Engaging in dangerous activities while under the influence.

Potential Health Complications From Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol, when enjoyed responsibly, may not cause any serious damage to your health. Irresponsible drinking, which includes all forms of alcohol use disorders, can cause a range of negative health consequences. First and foremost, alcohol can immediately cause speech and other impairments. Excessive drinking, regardless if it's prolonged over time or consumed in mass quantities, can increase your risk of developing cancers, drastically weaken your immune system and permanently damage vital organs like your brain, heart, liver and pancreas.

Overcoming Alcohol Abuse in California

Though alcohol is prevalent in our daily lives, treatment options for alcohol abuse are also readily available. With help and support from trained professionals, you or your loved one can take the first steps to overcome alcohol abuse. Treatment centers offer private alcohol detoxification services administered under medical supervision. Withdrawal from alcohol can present mild to severe symptoms that can be overwhelmingly difficult to endure. Some of these symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Insomnia
  • Seizures
  • Fever and hallucinations
  • Cardiac events

Even though the most dangerous symptoms of withdrawal occur within the first day or two, we believe that every dependence issue should be treated on an individual basis. The caring staff at treatment centers can provide you with a safe and calming environment for you to progress through the detoxification process. Holistic programs will give you the treatment you need for your addiction and any co-occurring psychiatric disorders you may be experiencing.

Drug Abuse Statistics in California

While alcohol abuse is limited to simply alcoholic beverages, drug abuse includes a spectrum of substances that are both legal and illegal. Some of these substances can be bought in a store or prescribed by a physician. Others must be acquired by illegal means. The ingredients of these drugs, whether they are synthetically manufactured or naturally derived, can cause an individual to experience a wide range of symptoms. Treatment for these addictions must be just as unique.

Marijuana Abuse

The Golden State got a lot greener on January 1, 2018, when California legalized marijuana for recreational use. The parallels between alcohol and marijuana are quite similar — it's available for purchase and consumption throughout the state, its use is considered socially acceptable by a growing population and an individual can begin to abuse marijuana without realizing that they have a problem.

It's been estimated that nearly 13 percent of Californians smoke pot, and the increased availability of legalized weed will likely cause this percentage to rise in the next few years. Legal or not, one fact remains — many Americans have a marijuana dependence. Due to its place as a Schedule I drug on the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) drug schedule, cannabis is considered the most commonly abused illicit substance.

Symptoms of Marijuana Abuse

Like alcohol, too much or too frequent marijuana use can lead to abuse and addiction. It's reported that nearly 30 percent of users have a form of marijuana use disorder. Granted, too much marijuana use is not normally life-threatening and compared to other substances like alcohol, opiates or cocaine, the symptoms of abuse and withdrawal are much milder. Still, any form of substance abuse is bad for you, both physically and psychologically.

Symptoms of marijuana abuse and withdrawal include the following:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Irritability
  • Anxiousness or restlessness
  • Insomnia

Similar to other substances, you may be abusing marijuana if your usage begins impacting any aspect of your life. If you're having performance issues at school or work, aren't able to retain or recall knowledge normally or discover that your relationships with friends and family have changed for the worse, marijuana abuse may be the cause. Most importantly, if you ever feel like you need the drug despite a desire to quit, you're likely experiencing symptoms of marijuana abuse and withdrawal.

Marijuana Abuse Treatment in California

Just like alcohol, marijuana is a legal substance that can be responsibly enjoyed with a low likelihood of progressing towards abuse or addiction. However, marijuana abuse is still a serious illness that can severely and negatively impact your life. Withdrawal is not easy and can be very scary for someone who attempts to quit using marijuana alone. Thankfully, there are treatment options for those struggling to stop smoking pot.

Detox centers can provide private detoxification for many substances including marijuana. You can get help for your addiction and manage your symptoms under the guidance of trained medical professionals and therapists. Together, you can break your habit and return to a sober lifestyle.

Prescription Drug Abuse

Whereas alcohol and marijuana are legalized substances that can be purchased and used recreationally without heavy restrictions, prescription drugs are legal substances that may only be lawfully used as directed by a physician. Though these substances are regulated and controlled, prescription drugs are still readily available and are abused by a staggering number of people. One of the deadliest prescription drugs people use are opioids, which has become a growing epidemic in the state of California.

Heroin and fentanyl are opioids, and while many individuals may already know that these are dangerous substances, some people do not realize that common medicinal drugs like codeine, morphine, oxycodone and hydrocodone are classified as opioids as well. These substances are commonly used to help manage the pain of those suffering from injuries. However, they can be just as deadly as heroin and fentanyl if an individual chooses to overuse or abuse their prescribed opioids.

Millions of opioid prescriptions are given to California residents each year. Though many people do truly require these drugs for recovery and take them as directed, many others abuse opioids. Thousands of people overdose on these pills each year — and too many of those overdoses result in death.

Opioid use disorders display many of the symptoms of other substance abuse behaviors including:

  • Increased tolerance to the substance.
  • Inability to control usage or cravings despite the desire to stop.
  • Continued usage despite the creation of health problems or complications in areas of your social, professional or home life.

Experiencing withdrawal is another sign of substance abuse and can include the following symptoms:

  • Abdominal cramping, vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Rapid breathing, sweating and enlarged pupils.
  • Muscle aches, tremors and anxiety.

California Opiate Abuse Treatment

Whether you are abusing heroin, fentanyl or a prescription opioid, know that continued use could result in permanent bodily damage or even death. It's especially critical for professionals to monitor those who are abusing or are addicted to opioids during the detoxification process. Though withdrawal symptoms are typically not life-threatening, they can be extremely uncomfortable, painful and increase your urge to use opiates again. Instead of attempting to face these symptoms alone, seek opiate detox help from a treatment center.

Alcohol and Drug Detox in California

Marijuana, prescription opiates and alcohol aren't the only substances that can be abused. In fact, as many as three million people in the state of California abuse illegal drugs like heroin, cocaine, ecstasy and meth. Drug addiction and abuse claims the lives of people every day and is the number one cause of premature death in California. Thankfully, professional help is available for those who want to free themselves from substance dependency. Diamond House Detox has a variety of detoxification programs designed to help individuals recover from all forms of substance abuse.

Our private in-patient facility is ready to provide services including:

Our facility includes is limited to only six individuals at a time, ensuring that you get the proper attention and care you need as you move through the withdrawal process and progress towards recovery. Diamond House Detox features luxurious private rooms, an on-site chef, psychiatric evaluation and treatment, medication-assisted treatment, chronic pain management, therapy sessions and much more. We provide the most intimate, comfortable and private environment for detox in Northern California.

If you or a loved one is struggling to overcome a substance abuse disorder, know that there is hope. Diamond House Detox is here to give you the help you need to break free from dependence and live a sober life. Contact Diamond House Detox and take the first step to recovery today. Call today for same day admittance at (800) 205-6107.

Content medically reviewed by Vicky Magobet, PMHNP-BC, on April 26th, 2019.


Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner at Diamond House Detox
Vicky is a board certified Family Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. She began her nursing career in healthcare by working in the intensive care unit, and then an inpatient psychiatric hospital. After realizing the mental health needs of both the patients and the families she served, she became a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner. Throughout her experience working with clients, she has developed a passion for those with dual diagnoses and specializes in helping individuals recognize the issues driving their substance use. This recognition has been crucial to the individual’s success in treatment. Vicky opened Diamond House Detox so that she can address these issues early on in a therapeutic environment to allow clients to transition to the next level in their recovery.
Vicky Magobet
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