Since the 1990s, opioid use has skyrocketed across America, leading to a national crisis. In fact, every day, approximately 128 people in the United States die from an opioid overdose. In California, the number of opioid overdose deaths has increased by 9 percent since 2015. In 2018, 45 percent of overdose deaths in the state involved an opioid, and 250 people in San Diego County died from opioid-related causes.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made California’s drug overdose situation worse, particularly in San Diego. “In some of our counties,” Attorney General Xavier Becerra says, “there are more deaths from overdoses than there are from COVID-19.” San Diego has seen a 50 percent increase in overdose deaths in July and August of 2020 compared to a couple of months before the pandemic began. Luckily, San Diego has several programs in place to help combat the city’s opioid crisis.
Opioids are a specific group of drugs that help ease, reduce, and relieve pain. Opioids either come from the opium poppy plant or are manufactured using a similar chemical structure. Even though opioids typically originate from a natural source, the drugs can be highly addictive, and misusing them can cause significant damage to the brain and body. Opioids fall into two main categories: medications prescribed by doctors, also called “painkillers,” and illegal opioids, also called “street drugs.”
Some of the most commonly used opioids include:
In 2019, opioids were the leading cause of overdose deaths in San Diego County. Fortunately, the county’s Health and Human Services Agency has responded to the city’s opioid problem by implementing Live Well San Diego, The San Diego Opioid Project, and other local initiatives. Let’s take a look at each in more detail.
In 2010, San Diego County had an increasing number of citizens with chronic illnesses and substance use disorders. In response to that concern, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors adopted the “Live Well San Diego” vision plan. The plan focuses on:
Live Well San Diego doesn’t directly address opioid use, but it does work to improve living conditions that can lead to opioid addiction, as well as enhancing health care systems that assist people experiencing an overdose or opioid-related health problems.
Since adopting Live Well San Diego, the California Prescription Opioid Misuse & Overdose Prevention Workgroup has worked with the California Healthcare Foundation to establish the Opioid Safety Coalition in Network in San Diego.
The San Diego Opioid Project is a new digital outreach campaign launched by the District Attorney’s Office and the county’s Health and Human Services Agency. Using platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube, the campaign hopes to target vulnerable communities and young people to dispel myths about opioid use while providing people help finding local resources for treatment.
This past September, the San Diego Opioid Project hosted a virtual town hall meeting. The meeting, which was accessible via Zoom and free to attend, provided attendees a crash course on what makes opioids so dangerous, the risks of misuse, and resources available to those at risk of addiction.
The Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System (CURES) focuses on the medical side of the opioid crisis. CURES, use of which is now required by law, is a database in which California physicians can look at a patient’s controlled substance use history. Essentially, the database system helps California doctors identify situations that may indicate or signal prescription drug abuse. In addition to that, California doctors must now:
The San Diego County Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force works to address prescription drug abuse in San Diego County. The task force works with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department to reduce access to prescription drugs. The multi-agency task force has two main objectives which include:
After almost losing her son Aaron to an opioid overdose, Sherrie Rubin founded The Hope2Gether Foundation. The organization’s mission is to reduce and prevent prescription drug and heroin overdoses and deaths. The San Diego-based foundation works to help combat the city’s opioid crisis by:
Led by doctors at San Diego’s Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Centers, the committee aims to:
To accomplish this mission, the committee has launched a multi-level strategy that includes:
Here at Genesis Recovery, we’re proud to call San Diego home and join the city’s efforts in curtailing the opioid crisis. We offer programs specifically designed to treat prescription drug and opioid addiction. Our approach to treatment includes clinical support, the 12-step program, soul-nurturing activities, and lifestyle practices, as well as a supportive sober community.
Opioid addiction doesn’t have to continue to control your life. Long-term recovery is possible and we can help you get there. Contact us today at 619-797-7319 if you or a loved one have opioid addiction challenges.