Central Coast counties rank in the top 6 for heroin overdoses

July 30, 2016
A parent shared a picture of his son shortly after the teen died of a heroin overdose.

A parent shared a picture of his son on Facebook shortly after the teen died of a heroin overdose.

By JOSH FRIEDMAN

San Luis Obispo County ranked fourth per capita in heroin overdoses leading to hospitalizations in California in 2015 while Santa Barbara County ranked sixth, according to statistics from the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development.

On average, last year in both San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties, one person a week sought medical care at a local hospital because of heroin. At a time when heroin overdoses are on the rise in California, they are increasing at even faster rates in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties.

Statistics show cases of heroin poisoning in the state have nearly doubled over the last four years. In SLO County, over the last 10 years the number of people hospitalized because of heroin poisoning increased by 1,300 percent.

Cases of heroin poisoning in SLO County rose from four in 2005 to 56 in 2015. From 2005 through 2010, SLO County had less than seven cases of heroin poisoning in a single year.

During the past five years, heroin-induced hospitalizations rose steadily each year with 16 in 2011, 26 in 2012, 30 in 2013, 44 in 2014 and 56 in 2015.

In Santa Barbara County, cases of heroin poisoning rose from six in 2005 to 65 in 2015, a 983 percent increase over a decade.

State officials compile heroin poisoning statistics based on cases reported by hospitals. Officials have yet to disclose heroin-related death totals for 2015, but they have released statistics totaling cases of heroin poisoning in which individuals were treated at a hospital but survived.

Statewide, in 2015, Shasta County had the most heroin-induced hospitalizations per capita at 2.9 per 10,000 residents. Santa Cruz and Humboldt counties ranked second and third, each with 2.7 hospitalizations per 10,000 residents. Rounding out the top six, SLO County with 2.0 hospitalizations per 10,000 residents, San Francisco County had 1.7 and Santa Barbara had 1.5.heroin

In total, Los Angeles County had the most heroin-induced hospitalizations: 571. But per capita, at .6 hospitalizations per 10,000 residents, Los Angeles County ranked well below San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties.

Among counties with populations larger than 100,000, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Kings, Merced and Fresno had the fewest heroin-induced hospitalizations per capita. Santa Clara had .2 hospitalizations per 10,000 residents.

SLO County had 20 more heroin-induced hospitalizations than Fresno County — which had 36 — even though the Central Valley county has more than three times as many residents.

In 2015, 66 people died because of drug or alcohol use in SLO County and 75 people died from drug or alcohol abuse in Santa Barbara County, according to the California Department of Public Health. It is unclear, though, how many of the deaths were related to heroin.

State statistics show heroin abuse is increasing at the fastest rate among people ages 20 to 39.

Cases of heroin poisoning among other age groups remained relatively flat, with the exception of people in their 50s. Statewide overdoses among fifty-somethings rose from slightly below 50 in 2012 to 88 in 2016.

In all, around 500 people ages 10 to 69 in California suffered heroin poisoning in the first quarter of 2012. In the first quarter of this year, 856 people ages 10 to 69 suffered heroin poisoning.

Health officials attribute several reasons for the growing trend of heroin addiction. One major factor is users becoming addicted to prescription medications and turning to heroin as a cheaper and more easily accessible alternative.

In response to questions about what programs to reduce heroin use the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office has in place, department spokesman Tony Cipolla said the sheriff is focused on combating the spread of heroin.

“Over the last several years, heroin has been the number one focus of enforcement by the sheriff’s office. We have continually emphasized education in the schools, enforcement in the streets and drug rehab programs in the jail to try and end the scourge of heroin,” Cipolla said in a statement.

John Peschong, a candidate for the San Luis Obispo County District 1 supervisor seat, lost his 21-year-old nephew Jack to a heroin overdose about five years ago. Peschong describes heroin addiction as an epidemic spreading across our country.

“We need to intervene and stop gangs from distributing heroin in the county and expand programs to help people break their addictions to opioids and heroin,” Peschong said.


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23 Comments

  1. Jorge Estrada says:

    If drug overdose is verified then let it run its course. They will die and eventually the source will too. Anything else will enable the problem.

    (-5) 11 Total Votes - 3 up - 8 down
  2. CentralcoastRN says:

    Heroin use will get worse due to the tightening of prescription drug laws.

    The police think more police is the answer. How are police going to help?

    The problem is that there is a DEMAND for heroin and opiates, so we must help decrease the peoples’ demand/desire for it or the supply will keep coming. How do we do this?

    In our county, people who cannot afford to must go to the methadone clinic every single day for their daily dose of the drug. Medicaid/Medi-cal doesn’t cover methadone treatment AT ALL in many states. Private insurance may or may NOT cover methadone treatment to help people with their heroin/opiate addictions.

    Mental health therapy and rehabs are expensive. Treatment is physically and psychologically painful. Services have been cut to these programs over the years.

    As another poster said, the apathy and detachment in this country doesn’t help much either.

    (10) 10 Total Votes - 10 up - 0 down
  3. TWEEKSBALMER says:

    The Darwin effect.

    (-1) 23 Total Votes - 11 up - 12 down
  4. Pelican1 says:

    Opiate use, overdose, and addiction is becoming a North American epidemic. It affects ALL ages, all races, all ethnic backgrounds, and all economics without discrimination.
    For too long Dr’s prescribed drugs like Oxycontin for pain related procedures and injuries and the result has been devastating. The unintended consequences have resulted in the destruction of mainly our young people.
    At this point, there is little or no hope for those who don’t have $10,000.00’s to spend on rehab.
    We are losing a part or our society, our loved ones our friends and families in part through no fault of their own.

    (8) 30 Total Votes - 19 up - 11 down
    • Scott says:

      Very sad that indeed the “War of Drugs” has failed miserably, both Black Tar Heroin, China White, Afghan Brown. It (Heroin) can be “Stepped” on or Cut with many dangerous other chemicals in order for the dealers can get more out of it.

      Having worked In the Golden Triangle ( General Khun Sa) (General Vang Pao) in Colombia (FARC) (AUC) (PLA) (ELN) (ERPAC), then you have the many mini cartels from both Mexico and all over Central America, pouring this poison into the US Markets at such an alarming rate that (EPIC) El Paso Intelligence Center has seen a massive increase in smuggling like never before. The “Golden Crescent” has increased its Poppy field production since the US Invaded the region.

      Locally you have several major Cartels delivering Heroin from Sinaloa, Knights Templar and the famed ( Norte de Valle Cartel) locally expanding. Having seen the abuse of giving free needles in SLO has in fact contributed to the spread of use of Heroin and several diseases,. As was reported by the CDC the number # 1 Killer in the USA of of young people. The Hospitals can not tell you do to HIPPA the real numbers of deaths attributed to the true deaths coming into ER’s Nation wide, let alone they never tell you of those under 18 again since they are minors.

      Suicides have increased, prostitution increased, property crimes increased, Police misconduct has increased, look at the Asst Chief of Fresno X Chief Foster, the two Detective from Bakersfield also arrested as well as our own local Cory Pierce or X Officers Limon, Mcdow caught by Federal Agents bringing in contraband and more.

      Since the Local Fake FB “SUMMER JOHNSON” was exposed by this very CCN and later by local Defense lawyers in SLO cases had to admit to the courts it was in deed a phony NTF fake site to entrap people, of the 1,432 names on it, you would be shocked it contains a local of “Who’s Who” elected officials, civic leaders, business men and woman including local LEO’s who did not even know it was a scam by the NTF.

      Heroin is at epidemic levels more than it was in the 60’s and 70’s The lack of people who truly want help can not get (HCI) Nalotone to help them off the heroin addiction. I have seen far too much in my years before i retired from the US Government. I have the corruption it causes as well from Indochina, Colombia, Central America, Middle East and many more places. The old saying (FTM) Follow the Money is the best most effective way to combat the evils of illicit use of Heroin.

      (21) 29 Total Votes - 25 up - 4 down
    • JohnnyBoy says:

      Through no fault of their own?? Are you serious? Who tied these people up and made them ingest drugs?

      Drug addition and alcoholism are not diseases. People take what gives them pleasure and they do it voluntarily. Then it is time to take the consequences. Until we stop winking at these vices and making excuses that ‘they can’t control themselves’, we have no hope.

      I don’t want to pay for rehab for someone who voluntarily ruined his life or subsidize some hospital for trying to revive someone from a SELF-INDUCED overdose. And, who cares what strata of society is affected. In fact, losing that part of ‘society’ may not be a bad thing.

      We must stop rewarding bad behavior.

      (2) 38 Total Votes - 20 up - 18 down
      • Pelican1 says:

        You couldn’t be more wrong. Try reading the statistics related to the medical professionals who routinely prescribed opiates for pain control not knowing the actual severely addictive nature and unintended consequences of these very powerful drugs.
        the users “can’t control themselves” because the DRUG is controlling them…it’s well known physiological fact.
        Sadly, your very myopic view of this problem only helps to perpetuate the problem.
        Hopefully no one close to you EVER becomes addicted to and substance or behavior, as it can have devastating, tragic effects. .

        (8) 24 Total Votes - 16 up - 8 down
        • JohnnyBoy says:

          So, you think I’m wrong. I didn’t see any suggestions other than I’m wrong. Let me hear your suggestions:

          Is it wrong to be against drug use?
          Is it wrong to expect people to be responsible?
          Is it wrong to not want to pay for the consequences of other people’s vices?
          Is it wrong to not want to pay for their self-induced medical problems?
          Is it wrong to not want to pay for rehab?

          If I understood you correctly, since drug addicts ‘can’t control themselves’ they are not responsible. So, when someone needs a fix, and you get mugged, should the mugger be held responsible?

          Finally, how is my ‘myopic view’ perpetuating the problem? Inquiring minds want to know.

          (1) 5 Total Votes - 3 up - 2 down
  5. tomsquawk says:

    “teach your children well” CSNY

    (15) 17 Total Votes - 16 up - 1 down
  6. indigo1955 says:

    The two statements below mine are just the perfect example of what comes from interacting with a phone instead of the people around you; an ATM instead of a teller who knows you as a valued customer; having sex with your hand in front of a computer screen instead of making love–and everything else automated and created from technology. It’s like: “oh well, so is sugar….”. I mean, here is a photo of someone’s child-ravaged by addiction-and dead–and all people can say is “oh well, so is sugar, so is alcohol; whatever”.

    It doesn’t do any good at all to try and talk sense into someone–or even do some melodramatic move and smack them while screaming ‘WAKE UP TO WHAT IS GOING ON AROUND YOU!”. Nothing…..does….any….good. Which is likely the reason kids turn to heroin in the first place–there is a good chance they feel alone and they need hugs, encouragement, tons of love, really great friends, attentive parents who’s goal it is to ‘be there and be present’, and so many other things. The world is crying out for love and human contact…while we shrug our shoulders while looking at a photo that should rip our heart out.

    (28) 48 Total Votes - 38 up - 10 down
  7. whatdouno says:

    Sugar tops them all and is just as hard to kick.

    (-21) 39 Total Votes - 9 up - 30 down
  8. joseywales says:

    only tobacco and alcohol are more addictive….

    (-21) 43 Total Votes - 11 up - 32 down
    • ironyman2000 says:

      Untrue. The difficulty depends on the individual. I quit smoking three times. The first two times were difficult but NOTHING like heroin seems to be. The third time took, and it was surprisingly easy. Been over ten years and have no interest or craving for cigarettes (though I do enjoy an occasional cigar). Have a friend who quit alcohol cold turkey. I saw it. Again, difficult but no heroin. Josey, you might want to have a clue what you’re saying before posting.

      (16) 28 Total Votes - 22 up - 6 down
      • L.A.RamsFan says:

        Although I agree with you to a degree about tobacco you couldn’t be farther from the truth about alcohol. The one thing that heroin does not share with tobacco and alcohol is its illegality. The ease of obtaining those two items, tobacco and alcohol, make them extremely difficult to “kick” for most.

        Alcohol is like no other drug on the market. It is more addictive than any illicit drug, the only drug that requires medical supervision to detox from and its social acceptance and disease concept (that’s all it is too, just a concept) connected to its addiction only makes it that more difficult to kick. The example of your friend kicking “cold turkey” is the exception rather than the rule; I’ve been around more than one person who tried that same method and died. No drug treatment center will allow a person to detox from alcohol without medical supervision while some will not even treat an alcoholic because the medical and legal ramifications involved. Take the time and read about its effect on an unborn child, it will scare the bejesus out of you; other drugs, including heroin, don’t come close in comparison.

        The thing that I think you should consider is the fact that heroin is now, again, becoming a drug of choice of the affluent and upper middle class, those who can afford a purer grade than the typical street addict*. Most of these people choose to smoke the stuff rather than injecting it. It is less intense that way, does not share the stigma attached to intravenous use and is harder to get addicted to, but, no less capable of causing one to overdose.

        Have I used it? Yep, once! When I was 18. I followed behind someone and injected a “cotton” (the cotton is the what an intravenous user uses to filter his “fix” while drawing it into his or her “outfit”, “rig” or the other nicknames used for a hypodermic syringe). I overdosed from that small amount and ended up in the hospital and a case of hepatitis B a short time later. I was lucky though; many people the same month I used, and using from the same “batch” of heroin, overdosed and died before most could even get the syringe out of their vain, one of them in the bathroom of the house I was living in. I never used it again.

        *www.rehabcenterrankings.com/drug-addiction-among-the-wealthy *www.techtimes.com/articles/…/suburbs-where-heroin-users-says-study.ht..
        *www.nytimes.com/…/heroin-war-on-drugs-parents..

        (4) 20 Total Votes - 12 up - 8 down
        • SamLouis says:

          To suggest that alcohol is more addictive than heroin is laughable. Same for the people that claim nicotine, caffeine, sugar, fat, etc. is more additive than alcohol.

          (5) 17 Total Votes - 11 up - 6 down
          • L.A.RamsFan says:

            Laughable? Really? I guess you know something the science and medical community doesn’t? Please educate us all and enlighten us… Or maybe… Educate yourself! Here are some places you can start:

            http://www.webmd.com/…/addiction/…/alcohol-more-harmful-than-cr
            alcoholrehab.com/alcoholism/alcohol-more-dangerous-than-heroin
            http://www.bluelight.org/vb/threads/636715-Drug-Harm-Alcohol-vs-Heroin

            When someone such as myself even suggests that the glass of crap you decide to sip on, or gulp down, is far more addictive and damaging then any other drug out there the typical reaction that Sam here had isn’t laughable, it’s sad.

            The socially acceptable, legalized, taxed to hell-and-back and priced to sell DANGEROUS DRUG is a pariah on this country. We allow more liquor stores to be built in some communities across this country than churches. It kills AT LEAST ten times more people than ALL illicit drugs combined each year. Its cost to the country is estimated between 4 to 5 BILLION dollars a year. The more accessible and affordable types of alcohol that are the choice of those that fight this DEADLY ADDICTION at the street level (Ripple, MD 20/20, cheap brands of beer in 32 and 40 ounce-sizes, etc) are usually priced just right for them and strategically placed in the poorer communities they mostly reside in, especially in the poorer African-American communities (The alcohol industries real “contribution” to our society? You betcha!). All the while this DEADLY DRUG fits the definition the FDA uses to define a Schedule l ILLEGAL drug: “…drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse with potentially severe psychological or physical dependence.”

            It’s not only sad SamLouis it’s at the very least hypocritical. while we fight a losing “war” on illicit drugs and send their manufactures, sellers and users to prison, we ignore the legalized drug that has more addicts, kills more and costs more to this society; all the while supporting a pharmaceutical industry that invents, manufactures, distributes and markets drugs that addicts and kills 10’s of 1,000’s of people each year.

            I have a great deal of empathy for addicts, I understand and have experienced their struggles in my own life, and while I understand that the first time of use is a choice (not a disease that suddenly rears it ugly head) it becomes less about that the further you get along in your use. The thing I have a hard time understanding about alcohol addiction? On one hand we actually encourage its use (its almost become a social necessity, a part of the human culture, rather than just socially acceptable) but even when the recognized fact that it can and will lead to addiction most choose to demonize and marginalize those that get “hooked”! Why?

            (4) 14 Total Votes - 9 up - 5 down
            • SamLouis says:

              Yeah, laughable.

              Anytime something like opiate addiction comes up, people (likely addicts themselves) need to chime in about how: food, nicotine and alcohol are all more addictive than heroin. In a word, bull.

              I can see how food would be difficult to manage because we can’t just stop eating — we have to eat, but food addition and opiate addiction aren’t in the same ball-park.

              (1) 3 Total Votes - 2 up - 1 down
              • L.A.RamsFan says:

                “Anytime something like opiate addiction comes up, people (likely addicts themselves) need to chime in about how: food, nicotine and alcohol are all more addictive than heroin. In a word, bull.”

                I never mentioned food, but I could. And why do you attempt to skirt the real issue by implying I am an addict myself instead of staying on topic? You attack my credibility instead of the content of my post. Why is that? My gut feeling is you haven’t a clue about any of this and don’t like the fact that someone who does can articulate those facts.

                Let me stay on topic though; anything a person does in his or daily life can become addictive. Whether the addiction is a physical or psychological one has no bearing on its validity or intensity as science has proven; that includes food SamLouis.
                Take a moment and consider this:

                “Comparing drug and food addictions may seem suspect, with one having potentially much more serious consequences than the other, but it helps scientists and medical professionals to better understand the disease of addiction. We can no longer use the excuse that addicts are weak-willed or morally inferior. With research like the following, we know that addiction responses are highly intertwined with normal brain chemistry, and that this disease is much more complicated than a simple matter of will power.”

                “In looking at the scans of the participants’ brains, the researchers found that among the women who showed at least three signs of food addition, according to the Yale Food Addiction Scale, brain activity in the regions that are related to craving and pleasure was higher than in women who had one or no signs of food addiction. The parts of the brain showing activity while looking at pictures of the milkshake include the anterior cingulate cortex, the amygdala, and the medial orbitofrontal cortex. In similar studies with drug addicts, these same parts of the brain show activity when participants are shown drugs.”

                “The women in the study who showed signs of being food addicts, also showed similar brain activity to drug addicts when they actually got to eat the ice cream. While eating, the lateral orbitofrontal cortex had decreased activity in these women. This same happens with drug addicts while they are using and indicates lessened self-control.”

                “While many of the similarities between food addicts and drug addicts were striking, there were also important differences highlighted by the Yale study. Unlike drug addicts, the food-addicted women did not lose the pleasurable sensation of viewing the shake, when they finally got to eat it. Their pleasure centers remained on high alert throughout.”

                “In contrast, drug addicts continue to crave drugs over time, but their pleasure in using decreases. This creates a tolerance, which leads to the cycle of using drugs over and over again trying to chase a high. It also leads to abusers using more and more of a substance to get a high and one of the great dangers that puts addicts at risk of overdosing. It seems that food addicts do not lose the sense of pleasure, but the researchers suggest that this might be a trait seen only in serious addicts. The women in the study were not severely addicted to food.” –

                “The Yale study does not give all the answers to questions about addictions that many people term “behavioral.” These are things like compulsive gambling, sex addiction and overeating, which have long been given little respect when compared to drug addiction and alcoholism. More information about addiction, however, increases our understanding of how all of these behaviors work in our brains.”

                “The consequences may often be more noticeable and more severe when addiction is to a chemical substance, such as heroin, meth, or cocaine, but all addictions are serious and require treatment. With a better understanding of addiction and the brain, experts will become better able to help people heal.” – Published in the Archives of General Psychiatry

                There are many more such studies out there, one just has to check their prejudices, apathy and unwillingness to reconsider at the coat clerk and be willing looking at a different opinion with an open mind. If you did this and it changed your mind think of the possibilities that you would be able to provide to those in your social circle, the minds you might, just by example, change and the power that it would create.

                Ignorance is not bliss…

                (1) 3 Total Votes - 2 up - 1 down

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