California’s Substance Use Disorder Crisis

The Growing Challenge of Substance Use in California

California faces a significant battle against substances like opioids, methamphetamine, and alcohol. The impact of these substances has not only strained families and communities but also emphasized the need for effective treatment solutions. In response, California has been proactive in enhancing substance use treatment through expanded access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT), increased funding for mental health services, and the adoption of harm reduction strategies. A key focus is also placed on reducing the stigma surrounding addiction, encouraging more individuals to seek help.

California’s Proactive Measures Against Opioids

The opioid crisis represents a dire national health emergency, with the United States witnessing over 83,000 opioid-related overdose deaths annually. A staggering more than 90% of these fatalities involve fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that has been a key driver of the crisis. California’s statistics reflect this grim reality:

  • In 2022, nearly 7,000 individuals succumbed to opioid overdoses within the state.
  • Fentanyl was implicated in 87% of these deaths, highlighting its deadly impact.
  • Over 21,000 emergency room visits were directly related to opioid overdoses, emphasizing the urgency of addressing this issue.


Governor Newsom’s administration is dedicated to confronting this challenge head-on, with a clear focus on saving lives and mitigating the crisis’s devastating effects.

Understanding the Opioid Crisis Timeline

The opioid crisis has evolved over several decades, leaving a trail of destruction and loss. Here’s a brief overview of its progression:

  • 1990s: The crisis began with pharmaceutical companies aggressively marketing prescription opioids like OxyContin as less addictive alternatives, despite lacking scientific evidence. This led to widespread overprescription and, subsequently, a spike in addiction and overdose deaths.
  • 2010: As the medical community recognized the dangers of prescription opioids, individuals addicted to these medications increasingly turned to illegal substances like heroin, marking a second wave of the crisis.
  • 2013: The proliferation of synthetic opioids, particularly fentanyl, due to their potency and low cost, resulted in a dramatic increase in overdose fatalities.
  • 2023: The crisis has continued to evolve with the emergence of new threats, such as fentanyl being mixed with xylazine or illicit stimulants like methamphetamine and cocaine, contributing to an even more lethal wave of overdoses.

The Rise of Stimulant Use

While opioids have dominated public and media attention, the rise in stimulant use is a significant and growing concern. According to the California Department of Health Care Services, there has been a shocking increase in stimulant-related deaths, with substances like cocaine, methamphetamine, and other stimulants accounting for 65% of drug-related fatalities in 2021, a significant jump from 22% in 2011. Nationally, the situation is equally troubling, with the National Institute on Drug Abuse reporting a 180% spike in overdose deaths involving stimulants other than cocaine, primarily methamphetamine, from 2015 to 2019.

Stimulants and California's Homelessness Crisis

California’s severe homelessness crisis exacerbates the problem of stimulant use. Among the state’s homeless population, stimulants, particularly amphetamines, have become the drugs of choice. A study by the UCSF Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative revealed that nearly one-third of surveyed homeless individuals who use drugs reported using amphetamines three or more times per week, a stark comparison to the 11% who reported similar frequency in opioid use. The preference for stimulants among those living on the streets is often attributed to the necessity of staying alert at night to guard against potential attacks.

Soledad House: A Sanctuary for Recovery

At Soledad House, we pride ourselves on utilizing evidence-based treatment methods tailored to the unique needs of each woman we serve. Our comprehensive approach includes:

  • Personalized Care: Offering individual and group therapy, we ensure strong family support and integrate cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and trauma-informed care.
  • Evidence-Based Treatment Methods: Our team is dedicated to employing strategies that have proven effective in long-term recovery.
  • Supportive Environment: We believe in creating a warm and nurturing environment, crucial for the recovery process.

Our Mission: Empowering Women to Thrive

Our mission transcends helping women recover from addiction; it’s about enabling them to discover their purpose and thrive. Recognizing the uniqueness of each recovery journey, we reject the “one-size-fits-all” approach, instead offering tailored treatment programs, including:

  • 12-Step Program: Fosters a strong community and provides tools for sustained sobriety.
  • Sober Living Program: Supports women transitioning back into daily life with safe, substance-free housing.
  • Intensive Outpatient Program: Offers 24/7 care, structured routines, and comprehensive therapy options in a temptation-free environment.
  • Relapse Prevention: Works with participants to identify potential triggers and develop strategies to address future challenges.
  • Aftercare Program: Ensures ongoing support post-treatment with sober living homes and 12-step programs.
  • Partial Hospitalization Program: Provides essential support and various therapy options for sustained recovery.

Reach Out for Support

Understanding the importance of accessibility to assistance, Soledad House is committed to making our services available to every Californian in need. Whether through public health programs, private rehabilitation centers, or community-based organizations, help is within reach. For those seeking further information or insights into substance use disorder treatment, Soledad House welcomes you. Our dedication to creating a significant positive impact on the lives of women dealing with addiction is unwavering. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our team today to start your recovery journey.


  1. NIDA. “Methamphetamine-involved overdose deaths nearly tripled between 2015 to 2019, NIH study finds.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 22 Sep. 2021, Accessed 15 Feb. 2024.
  2. California Is Doubling Down to Combat the Opioid Crisis and Save Lives.” California’s Opioid Response, 12 Feb. 2024,


California faces challenges from substances like opioids, methamphetamine, and alcohol, which have strained families and communities, leading to an increased need for effective treatment solutions.
California has implemented proactive measures such as expanded access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT), increased funding for mental health services, and the adoption of harm reduction strategies to combat the opioid crisis.
Stimulant-related deaths, including substances like cocaine and methamphetamine, have seen a shocking increase, with stimulants accounting for a significant percentage of drug-related fatalities, both in California and nationally.
The severe homelessness crisis in California has worsened substance use problems, particularly stimulant use among the homeless population, with stimulants like amphetamines becoming the drugs of choice for many individuals living on the streets.
Soledad House provides evidence-based treatment methods tailored to the unique needs of each woman, including personalized care, a supportive environment, and a range of programs such as sober living, intensive outpatient care, and relapse prevention.

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