It’s no secret that addiction is a public health concern in the state of California. Recent reports show that 2.7 million Californians meet the criteria for a substance use disorder, which is the clinical term for addiction. California residents in the age range of 18 to 25 years are the most likely to struggle with addiction, as the rate of substance use disorders is nearly double the state average among those in this age group. While addiction is problematic in California, it is helpful to compare California’s addiction rate to the rest of the country and the rest of the world to place the problem in context.
Addiction Rates in California vs. Other States
Data from the California Health Care Foundation show that around 8.5 percent of the population lives with a substance use disorder, with 6.4 percent meeting criteria for an alcohol use disorder and 3.3 percent meeting criteria for a substance use disorder involving illegal drugs.
According to Nationwide addiction rates from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), California’s ranking among the other states depends on the study’s age group. For instance, for individuals age 12 and older, California ranks in the second-highest tier for the rates of substance use disorder involving illegal drugs in a given year. For youth aged 12 to 17, California ranks in the highest tier, which includes states in which 3.69 to 4.55 percent of those in this age range have a substance use disorder in a given year.
While the highest rates of substance use disorder in California are among young adults aged 18 to 25, this rate is not particularly high when compared to addiction rates in this age range across the country. For example, California falls in the middle tier of addiction rates for ages 18 to 25, with 6.95 to 7.38 percent of Californians in this age range meeting the criteria for an illegal drug use disorder. States with the highest addiction rates for ages 18 to 25 had a prevalence of 8.11 to 11.17 percent, and states in this tier included Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
Finally, for adults aged 26 and older, California ranked in the second-highest tier among other states, with 2.14 to 2.36 percent of Californians in this age group meeting the criteria for a substance use disorder involving illegal drugs. States including Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington had higher addiction rates for ages 26 and up, falling in the range of 2.37 to 3.08 percent.
California Addiction Rates Compared to Other Countries
Comparing addiction rates in California to those seen across the United States provides a clearer picture of the severity of California’s addiction problem, but it is also helpful to compare California’s addiction rates to those seen around the world. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, about 3 percent of the United States population, age 12 and older, has a substance use disorder involving at least one illicit drug, which is comparable to the rate of 3.3 percent seen in California.
While overall rates of substance use disorder in California are comparable to the U.S. average, the following 10 facts show how California compares to the rest of the world:
- Across the globe, about 5.5 percent of people use drugs in a given year, according to data from the United Nations. This is lower than the 10.6 percent of Americans who report using any type of drug.
- Opioid use in states like California is likely higher when compared to global rates, as 1.2 percent of the global population abuses opioids, compared to 3.6 percent in North America and 0.8 percent in Europe.
- California’s rates of marijuana use are especially high when compared to the rest of the world. For instance, 34 percent of those aged 18 to 25 in California are marijuana users, and 13.5 percent aged 26 and up use marijuana, compared to 4 percent of the global population. In Asia, just 2 percent of the population reports marijuana use.
- Cocaine use in California has a 7.2 percent prevalence among ages 18 to 25 and a 1.8 percent prevalence in the age range of 26 and above. For adults above 26, rates of cocaine use in California are lower than what is seen in the Australia and New Zealand area, where the prevalence of cocaine use is 2.7 percent.
- Globally, only 14 percent of people with a drug addiction receive needed treatment, which is comparable to the 12 percent in California who receive treatment.
- Opioid overdose death rates, which are indicative of the severity of a state or nation’s drug problem, show that over 2,400 Californians died of opioid overdose in 2018, and around 45% of overdose deaths in the state involved opioids, compared to the 70% of deaths involving this class of drugs worldwide.
- In California, 8.5 percent of the overall population has an addiction to any substance (drugs or alcohol), compared to Russia, where 5.93 percent of the population has a drug or alcohol use disorder. It is noted that Russia has the highest rate of substance use disorders across the globe, so California’s rates rank high compared to the rest of the world.
- Across the world, including in the United States, addiction is more common among men than women, which is likely the case for California.
- In Russia, nearly 5 percent of the population has an alcohol use disorder, compared to 6.4 percent in California.
- Indonesia has low rates of drug and alcohol addiction when compared to California and the rest of the world, with under 1 percent of the population having a drug addiction or alcohol addiction, respectively.
Help for Addiction in California
California demonstrates addiction rates that are on par with and, in some cases higher, than what is seen across the globe, making treatment a necessity. If you are looking for addiction treatment for yourself or a loved one in the state of California, Mission Harbor Behavioral Health provides services for both adults and adolescents. We offer several treatment tracks to meet each individual’s unique needs, including a working professionals program. We also have daytime partial hospitalization programs for both adults and teens and intensive outpatient services and parent orientation programming. Contact us today to learn more.