The History of Substance Use in California

The Lakehouse Recovery Center has spoken on the prevalence of substance use in California, offering resources to those in need, and informing on how we can help individuals on their path to recovery. Regarding substance use disorder (SUD), approximately 2 million people in the state of California are suffering from SUD. Many of these individuals have not sought out treatment, and as a result, are at higher risk for adverse health effects and overdose.

Professionals in the field of addiction treatment are constantly observing the continued rise of substance use. They are continually analyzing trends, hypothesizing the cause of these trends, and are scratching their brains to determine how we can decrease the rates of addiction in the United States. Many may wonder how it is we got to this point. There is much that individuals can learn from understanding the history of substance use and addiction, across the country, but particularly within the State of California.

Observations From the Past

The history of addiction and substance use within the state of California, and across the country, is a much more recent history than many may think. Successful advances in addiction treatment have mostly occurred within the past few decades. It was not too long ago that the only options for addiction treatment were rigid inpatient programs that had a one-size-fits-all approach.

What in particular from the past failed future society in the battle against addiction? A 2017 Los Angeles Times Op-Ed piece by Johann Hari describes substance use of the past, and how drugs were legal throughout United States history. Opiate and cocaine-based products were not banned from being purchased at a local pharmacy until 1914.

Now, opinions on the legalization of drugs in an attempt to fight the drug epidemic vary; however, it is safe to say that banning drugs in 1914 did not end the problem. Many were severely suffering from cravings, more individuals were overdosing, and the history of the mafia or illegal drug cartels was born out of these regulations. What we can learn from this is that banning drugs so abruptly without having a plan of treatment to move forward with did not help those who were already struggling with addiction. Nowadays, we know the dangers of quitting substance use cold turkey. This is why so many facilities emphasize safe detox and provide clients detox if they can.

The Evolution of Addiction Treatment

As substance abuse and addiction have evolved, so has addiction treatment. For years, addiction treatment was ineffective. It consisted of throwing individuals into drunk tanks or asylums. Without a full understanding of addiction, professionals were unable to treat it successfully, having not even recognized it as a disease for decades to come. In fact, it was not until the mid to late 1900s that professionals began deeming addiction an illness and officially defined it as a disease.

By the mid-1900s, there was more awareness surrounding addiction treatment. More individuals were attending groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), and there was a focus on creating halfway houses where individuals could live in a space conducive to their recovery. More policies were put into place through these decades, such as the Controlled Substances Acts, the approval of Narcan, and even the 12-Step philosophy. Despite all these advances, many continued to and are currently suffering because of the shame and stigmas that continue to be prevalent, leading to lifelong suffering and drug overdose deaths.

Despite what work still has to be done, society has come a long way in a short amount of time to decrease the stigma around addiction treatment. Yet, the question remains, what is California doing today to fight against this ongoing drug epidemic?

What Are We Doing Today to Combat Addiction in CA?

We have made monumental advances in addiction treatment just within the past two years. No one can deny that COVID was difficult, and many are still suffering from its backlash in terms of mental health and addiction. What it brought to us though was the implementation of telehealth mental health treatment and virtual addiction treatment programs. So many facilities now offer virtual programs, including the Lakehouse Recovery Center. While we have been able to help hundreds right in our backyard, virtual treatment now allows us to extend that treatment to millions throughout the state of California and beyond.

Another effective method the state has implemented to combat the drug epidemic is through Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT). MAT involves “the use of medications in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, to provide a ‘whole-patient’ approach to the treatment of substance use disorders.” According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), MAT has been clinically effective in reducing “inpatient detoxification services,” and “provides a more comprehensive, individually tailored program of medication and behavioral therapy that address the needs of most patients.”

If MAT or virtual addiction treatment sounds like something individuals may be interested in, they should consider discussing options with a healthcare provider today. To learn more about treatment at The Lakehouse Recovery Center, please do not hesitate to reach out. We can help individuals start their paths to recovery today.

Substance use is older than some think. Issues surrounding substance use and addiction have been around for centuries, and we only began to understand addiction in the 1900s. For years, people could easily purchase drugs and opiate-based products just by going to a local pharmacy. In the early 1900s, these substances were banned in an attempt to combat addiction. However, without a plan of treatment, these bans did not fix the problem. In fact, people suffered more severely, began overdosing, and we saw the rise of organized crime. Nowadays, there are many options for treatment, including virtual programs and Medication-Assisted Treatment throughout California. The caveat is that people must be open and willing to ask for help. If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction, the Lakehouse Recovery Center can help you start your path to recovery today. Call (877) 762-3707