Los Angeles is no stranger to opioid addiction.
According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration, in 2020, Los Angeles County experienced a significant increase in opioid deaths.
During the first five months of 2020, there were 395 fentanyl-related deaths in Los Angeles County.
But as of May of 2021, that number had risen to 567.
That’s a 57% increase.
But why does it happen?
Why is the opioid epidemic so bad in Los Angeles County?
Getting To The Root Of Opioid Addiction
There’s no secret about the fact that opioid addiction is on the increase.
Apparently, there’s something about the way we treat opioid addiction in the United States that doesn’t completely work.
Even when someone takes the leap to try to stop using an opioid like heroin, there’s a 59% relapse rate within the first week of trying to quit.
But sadly, this number grows to a staggering 80% within the first month.
Unfortunately, taking opioids even once puts you at risk for addiction.
But when you take them over a prolonged period of time (even if you have a legal prescription), your body begins to slow its production of endorphins.
In other words, you start to develop a tolerance for the drug.
And this can make you feel like you need a larger dose to keep feeling the positive feel-good effects.
Is it possible that, at the root cause of opioid addiction, there’s an issue with the addicted person experiencing a true loss of freewill?
This isn’t a new idea.
Some people believe that these drugs are so powerful that the people who get addicted to them are literally so ill that they can’t kick them without a serious level of assistance and medical help.
This is the really hard part about addictive drug use.
Once someone gets involved in it, and they get addicted to something as powerful as some opioids, even if they want to quit, it often proves insurmountably difficult.
And this is only exacerbated by other stressful, high-risk circumstances going on in that person’s life.
For example: poverty, unemployment, a family history of substance abuse, being young, having a history of criminal activity, and even having family members or friends with mental disorders can all put you at an increased risk for developing an opioid misuse problem.
In fact, during a TED Talk on the topic of opioid addiction that was published in 2018, Rachel Wurzman identified addictive behavior as “a brain-based disease state.”
She goes on to say that identifying it as such is “a medical, neuro-biological reality.”
This may offer a glimpse into why the problem is so destructive and difficult to overcome.
But the fact remains:
We still don’t completely know what to do about it.
Addiction Doesn’t Have To Be The End Of A Person’s Life
One of the big problems that Los Angeles County faces in light of its opioid addiction epidemic is the question of how to treat people who are addicted to opioids when those people don’t have the resources to overcome such a major addiction/health problem on their own.
The good news is that there are some organizations that are rising up to fight this problem head-on.
For example, Hollywood Hills Recovery—a premier Substance Abuse Treatment and Recovery Center, nestled in the private hills of Los Angeles, says this on their website:
“Your story with drugs and alcohol is no longer a story that defines you, but rather, a story that could help save lives.”
They believe that when life-altering, purposeful recovery is built on things like acceptance, support, and camaraderie, substance abuse becomes a battle that can be won.
The trick, of course, is figuring out how to find the resources and the means to treat everyone in such a major metropolitan area as Los Angeles.
From the looks of it, the Los Angeles Opioid addiction epidemic isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
There are some solutions in sight. But they’ll take time to implement.
And even if there are solutions on the horizon, they’re definitely not going to deliver an overnight fix.
In the meantime, what can everyone do to help alleviate the problem?
Don’t get involved with opioids is the first and most obvious answer.
Saying ‘no’ to illicit opioid abuse the first time is definitely easier than trying to say no after you’ve already developed an addiction.
And the second thing that you can do is this:
If you are involved with opioids and dealing with an addiction, you should most definitely reach out for help.
It’s not easy.
A lot of people try to quit, and fail.
But there’s always hope.
And one thing is for sure:
Your odds of beating it definitely improve if you have some kind of help.
This addiction doesn’t have to mean the end.
Recovery can be the ‘new beginning’ that many people in LA county desperately need.