Addiction Treatment Initiatives in San Diego
Created as the San Diego Oxy Task Force in 2008 and renamed the Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force (PDATF) in 2010, this partnership organization is made up of law enforcement, prevention, treatment, education, health and community advocates working together to solve a “complex problem in a comprehensive way.” The sixty participating agencies can be found here.
Similarly, the Meth Strike Force of San Diego County is comprised of 70 similar member organizations. It was formed in 1996 by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors to tackle the methamphetamine epidemic. The task force reports nearly one in four drug treatment admissions in San Diego County are for meth addiction. In a late 2017 Fox 5 report, the strike force reveals a “total of 377 fatalities linked to the highly addictive drug occurred locally in 2016, on average one every 23 hours. The tally was the highest in a single year and 66 more than in 2015.”
San Diego Drug & Rehab Trends
According to a 2014 report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, methamphetamine and heroin are clearly two of the largest concerns for San Diego and its surrounding areas:
Once known as the “meth capital of the world,” usage in San Diego had declined over several decades but is once again on the rise. Entering the U.S. by drug cartels, methamphetamines have become deadlier and less expensive.
- “The increased availability and potency have contributed to more meth- related deaths, more emergency room visits and more problems for individual users and their families,” said Nick Macchione, director of the county Health and Human Services Agency to San Diego’s Fox 5. “Many of the people who are dying are middle aged, have been using meth for a long time and also have other serious health conditions.”
- “The trend line is very alarming and continues to head in the wrong direction,” adds Dianne Jacob, chairwoman of the county Board of Supervisors. “Meth is taking a terrible toll on more and more San Diego families, and we must step up our efforts to fight this killer and connect more people with treatment programs.”
Heroin usage and overdose deaths are mirroring the rising trends across the country as are the numbers of users of prescription opioids transitioning to heroin.
“It’s been almost two years since the FDA approved a new time-release design of Oxycontin to prevent illegal misuse and abuse of the pain relieving drug,” reports San Diego’s News 8
. “But the new version is causing San Diego authorities new stress.”
Heroin is less expensive, provides a similar high and is called a “silent killer.”
“I consider this to be a community problem, a parent problem and a school problem,” says Nancy Knott
, who is an interventionist with San Diego’s Scripps Treatment Unit, who adds that “our detox units, especially during spring break, look like a college dorm.”
The increasing use of heroin by 18- to 25-year-olds is particularly disturbing.
“It’s staggering to think that in the past five years there has been a 229% increase,“ reports Susan Bowers with Health & Human Services Alcohol/Drug Services. “We are not seeing this type of increase with our other drugs.”
To combat the upward trend of usage by youth, the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Center for Mental Health Services awarded a $125,000 grant in 2013 for a “Drug-Free Communities Support Program” which has included a media campaign targeted at at-risk youth, town halls to increase parent and community awareness, a Responsible Beverage Sales and Service ordinance, pot shop bans and reduced access to drug paraphernalia and other related merchandise.