Substance dependency has been a serious issue in the US and has caused a crisis of mental health instability and serious illnesses that have affected hundreds of thousands of people. A study from 2021 measured 100,000 deaths from substance use over a 12-month period.
In California, the opioid epidemic began to gain attention in 2015 when almost 10,000 people were committed to the hospital for substance use-related illnesses. 2,000 passed away due to opioid overdoses.
Recently, California has taken steps to help people who have become victims of addictive drugs, including those who are homeless and struggle with opioid addiction. The state pledged to provide $518.5 million for substance abuse services in California, as well as housing options for the thousands of people who suffer from issues involving substance use.
Recent Blows to Drug Trafficking
Drug trafficking has long been a major issue in California, and it is linked to the increase in mental illness and opioid-related deaths and injuries over the years. Due to the continuous flow of illegal drugs, including methamphetamines coming into the US in recent years, debilitating mental illness and substance abuse has increased a staggering amount, with substance abuse-related deaths rising as well.
However, the San Diego Police Department has been able to stop and seize illegal drugs as they come into the country. The San Diego bust has been widely regarded as a win in the war against drugs and a massive blow to drug cartels that cause serious mental illness and substance use-related deaths in America.
$210 Million to Respond to the Opioid Crisis
Between 2018 and 2020, amphetamine-caused ER visits increased by 50%, and the amount of non-heroin opioid ER visits nearly tripled. During this time, mental health services were severely underfunded, and there were not many options for people who struggled with opioid addiction or other symptoms of substance use disorder. They often had to wait for their condition to cause them to go to the emergency room.
Two years ago, in 2020, California pledged to provide $210 million to fund projects that help prevent or cure substance dependency in the state. Though this is about half of the amount announced on June 20 of this year, this grant was still able to help in the effort to combat the opioid crisis. The funds were used in over twenty projects involving California substance dependency treatment services.
These programs provided several helpful options for those suffering from mental illnesses. For example, they funded treatment options for substance use disorder, such as funding hospitals for the development of mental illness treatment. They also provided more options for addiction treatment in pharmacies as well as county prisons and made opioid-related addiction and illness medication more available for Native American tribal communities in California.
The mental health project grant of 2020 was able to slow the increase in mental illness and deaths related to substance abuse in California over the course of two years. The new grant will provide more funding for similar programs; therefore, the aid for people who struggle with substance dependency, including opioid addiction, will increase.
What the 2022 Grant Means for California
On June 20, 2022, California announced that it would be providing a $518.5 million fund for state services to aid substance use disorder treatment. Funds will be used to heal and prevent drug-related illnesses and deaths, including housing options that can provide people struggling with housing instability with a place to be supported and treated for substance use disorders. The money will provide treatment beds for over 1,000 people at a time in addition to behavioral health services for many more.
With this grant, more people with substance use disorder, housing instability issues, or serious mental illness can seek proper treatment and shelter. Part of the planned fund will go toward the treatment of over one thousand people at a time, including services involving behavioral health as part of California’s plan to provide mental health homes and services.
Governor Gavin Newsom stated the need for these funds as a new approach to solving the homelessness and mental illness epidemic that has been present in California for many years. The CARE Court program will provide services for mental illnesses, including those on the spectrum of schizophrenia. A common mental illness among the community experiencing homelessness in the state, schizophrenia has debilitating effects on the mind and one’s ability to function in society.
The new grant will provide more than 20 counties across California with the financial support to improve programs. Another round of funding is scheduled to add $480 million to combat behavioral health issues being experienced by children and youth in the state.
Addressing substance use issues early is important, as it clearly has been a problem in California, according to data from the California Department of Education in a 2020 study. The study indicated more than 20% of students in Grade 11 used alcohol or drugs the previous month. Not only is the substance use itself a concern, but research shows that underage drinking is associated with other risky health behaviors during adolescence and a higher likelihood of developing alcohol dependency in adulthood.
The Effects of Substance Dependency
The abuse of opioid substances can cause rapidly deteriorating mental health conditions and lead to serious mental illnesses. Someone who has become addicted to opioids may experience symptoms such as cravings, sweating, a feeling of euphoria, shallow breathing, nausea, constant constipation, and sensitivity to pain. Dependence on opium may also cause depression, making it more difficult to avoid returning to the euphoria that opioids can create. Ultimately, life is better in recovery, and the pathway to recovery is within reach for everyone.
Recent Supports at the State Level to Improve Mental Health
In addition to the recent funding to help Californians struggling with housing instability and access to needed mental health and substance dependency services, there are other initiatives taking effect to help combat these problems as well.
Bill SB221, which went into effect on July 1, 2022, grants Californians the right to timely mental health and substance use disorder therapy sessions. Psychiatrists have reported extensive waitlists and an increase in referrals over the past few years, which has led to a delay for those trying to access treatment. Under this new mental health law, HMOs and health care insurance companies are required to provide mental health or substance abuse therapy sessions and any necessary inpatient or outpatient treatment within two weeks of patients’ intake being submitted.
San Diego Substance Use Treatment
Mental health and wellness are more important than many people realize. Our minds make our experiences real. With a healthy mind, you can live a fulfilling and joyful life. When someone is suffering from substance dependency related to opioid addiction, they may live in a painful and dark world and not even realize it. Otherwise, they may feel like there is no chance for a positive change in their life.
CADC II, Certified AOD Counselor
Nora Jenkins has made the quality and committed care we provide at Lilac Recovery Center possible. Nora is experienced in providing care to assist in rebuilding relationships to support healthy, long-term recovery. Her professional background includes clinical management, program administration, and counseling.