Drug, Alcohol, and Treatment Resources in Los Angeles
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, it is imperative to seek professional help immediately. Fortunately, L.A. has a wide variety of treatment options for those struggling with drug and alcohol problems. Addiction is a widespread problem afflicting people from all backgrounds and walks of life. It can happen to anyone. The important thing is to seek help and break away from dependency as soon as possible. Untreated addiction is extremely dangerous.
The Substance Abuse Problem in L.A.
L.A. has an exceptionally high rate of substance abuse, despite the fact that addiction is a nationwide epidemic. According to the most recent statistics, over 60,000 L.A. residents are admitted to publicly funded treatment programs in a given year. The most commonly treated addictions are to marijuana, alcohol, methamphetamines, and crack cocaine.
Overdose is the third-leading cause of premature death in Los Angeles County, according to the L.A. County Department of Health. The number of people who die of drug overdoses in L.A. is double the number of homicide victims and higher than the number of car crash fatalities. Opioids are among the most common and severe of the deadly drugs, claiming 28,000 lives in the State of California every year. 5.2% of adult Angelenos, an estimated 379,000, reported misusing prescription drugs in the most recent year for which statistics are available. There were over 650 prescription/over-the-counter (OTC) drug-related deaths, more than 3,000 hospitalizations, and 5,000 emergency department visits for prescription/OTC drug overdose among L.A. residents.
There are many factors that cause residents of the City of Angels to turn to substance abuse. Like other cities in the country, poverty and homelessness are a considerable problem in L.A. Rent has skyrocketed, and average rents of $2000 per month are squeezing many working Angelenos. There’s also the glitz and glamour of an entertainment industry that is notoriously competitive and backbiting, features not entirely alien to other sectors in the city. Angelenos have more than their share of all the usual problems people face — mental health problems, family dysfunction, physical illness and disability, stress.
These factors make the proliferation of substance abuse very understandable — and all the more regrettable. Addictive substances may offer temporary relief from life problems at first, but after a while, they open up a whole new realm of suffering while providing less and less assistance. It is fortunate that L.A. also has a world-class system of recovery centers and treatment facilities to help those suffering from addiction break free.
Public Treatment Centers in L.A.
The California Medicaid system, Medi-Cal, provides medical coverage to financially challenged individuals. In 2015, the administrators of Medi-Cal enrolled in a program designed to help them facilitate addiction recovery. The program allows administrators to pay for case management, inpatient care, medication management, and recovery services. It has granted people with addictions access to a much more extensive array of services than they previously had.
In addition, the State of California maintains a system of publicly funded treatment centers for people suffering from addiction. These centers, also known as state-funded addiction treatment centers, provide recovery treatment options to those who would not otherwise have the means to afford them. Anyone who must avail themselves of these centers is advised to contact the public health office.
There are public resources available to help treat mental illness as well. There is a great deal of overlap between the populations of those struggling with mental illness and those struggling with drug addiction. Many mentally ill people use illegal drugs to self-medicate, or simply to help cope with stress. The L.A. Department of Mental Health has a 24-hour hotline for those in need, at 1-800-854-7771.
The mental health department also provides a number of resources, including:
- housing services
- substance abuse programs
- wellness and life skills programs
- employment programs
And the public health department has a list of state-certified drug and alcohol treatment facilities. Different facilities are right for different patients, so it would be advisable for the patient to schedule a phone screening with facilities that look like they might be a good fit. During such calls, the patient will typically discuss things like the center’s experience with the type of addiction the patient is struggling with, treatment approaches, insurance, and payment issues, outpatient options, and so forth.
Top Rehabilitation Centers
For those with the resources, Los Angeles has some genuinely world-class recovery options. These provide relaxing, meditative spaces to help people in turmoil find peace and escape addiction. They typically either serve a particular segment of the population or have a distinctive guiding ethos that shapes the treatment they give.
Social Model Recovery Systems: River Community uses group therapy to help those suffering from both addiction and mental health problems. The facility uses a mixture of 12-step programs, family involvement, and daily counseling sessions to help participants regain control of their lives.
Supporting Harbor Area Women’s Lives (SHAWL) is at once a women’s shelter and a drug rehabilitation facility. Designed as a 6-month program, it offers structure and support to women who are both victims of domestic violence and also struggle with addiction. 95% of their clients get jobs before leaving the facility.
Weingart: Central City Recovery is operated by the L.A. chapter of Volunteers of America. Its residential treatment program is geared toward treating substance abuse in the LGBTQ population.
This is only a small sample of the many excellent drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities one can find throughout the L.A. area. An Internet search can easily find many more, or you can ask a doctor or mental health professional for a referral.
There are many resources available to those struggling with addiction as outpatients as well. There are many support groups throughout the L.A. area that can help those struggling with drug and alcohol dependency. Different groups serve slightly different populations and have somewhat different philosophies. Some only serve those struggling with drug addiction, other only those with alcohol addiction; some serve those with both. Some are religious and another secular. Many are run by professional counselors. Prospective members should investigate each group carefully before they join to determine whether it is right for them.
For example, teens in need of drug treatment can attend the program at Evolve. This is a mental health care facility that offers a range of individual and group outpatient programs. For adults, there’s also the Greater L.A. Area Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous, two famous, outstanding programs that help those struggling with addiction.
Whereas A.A. and N.A. are large and prominent organizations open to all who respect their rules, other groups are smaller, closed, and can only be attended with the permission of the mental health or substance abuse recovery professionals who run them. When one is admitted to such a group, one is essentially a patient of the professional running it. Resources for finding such groups can be found here, here, or by referral.
Here are a few more.
- The ARC Treatment Center offers a range of outpatient treatment options for Angelenos struggling with substance abuse and mental illness, including support groups.
- Homeboy Industries provides a variety of programs to help rehabilitate formerly gang-affiliated and incarcerated individuals. These include informational classes on drug and alcohol addiction, as well as 12-step meetings.
- L.A. CADA works in concert with government agencies to provide bilingual support to disadvantaged Angelenos, including those struggling with addiction. They offer a range of outpatient services.
These are only a few of the vast panoply of addiction support and recovery groups throughout L.A. A web search will turn up many more, as will referral from a qualified professional.
Inpatient vs. Outpatient Care in L.A.
There are advantages and disadvantages to seeking addiction recovery treatment as either an inpatient or as an outpatient. Both options have been successful in helping people break an addiction, but one may be preferable for a particular individual’s circumstances.
Inpatient treatment takes the patient out of his or her natural social environment. The patient will live at the facility he or she chooses, typically for an extended time period. He or she will eat and sleep there, attending counseling programs and support groups over the course of the stay. The experience is one of 24-hour immersion in sobriety, with support at every step.
Outpatient treatment is less expensive and requires less commitment. The patient attends regular meetings and counseling sessions but otherwise lives his or her healthy life, coming and going at will. Outpatient care is often beneficial, but the patient is exposed to more stressors, distractions, and temptations.