Addiction in Chula Vista, California
Chula Vista, California is one of the most southern cities of the state, located less than 8 miles from the US-Mexican border. This close proximity to Mexico renders Chula Vista a prime area for drug trafficking; the public health has suffered from the increased presence and availability of drugs such as heroin, meth, and cocaine.
The Opioid Epidemic
The entire state of California is in the middle of an opioid epidemic, and Chula Vista has not been spared of its crippling effects. Opioids are a classification of drugs that are derived from, or a synthetic version of opium. Many prescribed pain management medications are opioids, making them easily accessible, despite the fact that they are extremely addictive. Approximately 125 million opioid pills were sold across San Diego County in 2016 alone; that’s about 38 pills per person. San Diego County experienced 248 Rx Drug overdoses in 2015, and 52% of those overdoses involved other substances.
As prescription drug abuse has worsened, so has heroin abuse. More and more younger people are turning to heroin as painkillers are becoming more expensive and scarcer to find. Heroin was ranked as one of the primary drugs of choice for admissions to San Diego County Treatment Programs in 2016. In the past 5 years, heroin seizures and treatment admissions have additionally increased in the Chula Vista area, as availability and abuse rates have been steadily rising.
The growing heroin problem in the region continues to be fueled by prescription drug abuse. Heroin is cheaper and easier to get so prescription drug users are turning to heroin when painkillers become harder to find or more difficult to pay for.
Fentanyl is also becoming a problem for Chula Vista. Largely produced by Mexican cartels, fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is used as a cutting agent in heroin packaging. Fentanyl is more the 40 times stronger than heroin, increasing the chance of overdose for unsuspecting users. There were 234 fentanyl overdose deaths in California in 2016 alone.
Take Back Events in San Diego County have set record amounts of prescription painkillers collected, with over 30,000 pounds a year collected. In partnership with the DEA, there are over 40 sites in the county and 6 total in Chula Vista. Despite this success, opioids and illicit substances continue to be a problem for the coastal city.
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Dangers of Methamphetamine
Although the opioid epidemic in Chula Vista is very serious, the city is additionally, and perhaps more pressingly, struggling with high rates of methamphetamine use. Meth is a highly addictive illicit drug that is often easier and cheaper for people with a lower income to obtain than other drugs such as prescription opiates. According to the CJ Bulletin: 2017 Adult Arrestee Drug Use in the San Diego region, meth is the primary drug of choice for San Diego County adult incarcerates in the justice system. Of the participants in the survey, 55% of adult males and 58% of adult females tested positive for meth.
Meth today is cheaper, more potent, and more readily available than ever. It is important that our communities continue to keep this drug issue at the forefront and that prevention, treatment, and suppression efforts are a priority across the county.
Cities like Chula Vista are more predisposed to meth than other cities across America due to the close proximity to Mexico; it’s estimated that 85% of meth in the United States is produced in Mexico and then smuggled into regions like Southern California. In the DEA’s 2016 National Drug Assessment Summary, the agency seized 35,898 lbs. of meth along the US-Mexico border compared to only 8,87 lbs. just five years before. The increased availability of the drug in this region directly correlates with increased rates of abuse, and San Diego County officials are making meth a priority now more than ever.
Drug Trafficking in Chula Vista
Because Chula Vista resides on the Mexico border, it’s an ideal hub for trafficking. The most commonly trafficked drugs include: cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and meth. Teens and youth in the area are at particular risk of being convinced/lured into drug trafficking.
These cartels are like a business. So they are using every method they have. In this case they are just using kids because they can recruit them easily.
In 2017, Customs and Border Protection arrested 84 juveniles smuggling narcotics. The kids that are most commonly recruited are frequent border crossers – typically Mexican citizens with border crossing cards who attend school in bordering U.S. cities like Chula Vista. One Chula Vista high school student admitted to smuggling meth back and forth across the border more than 20 times, sometimes even twice in a day.
In an effort to reduce youth trafficking, law enforcement agencies have begun putting on presentations at San Diego and Chula Vista schools and give them a glimpse of the ramifications of drug trafficking and violence.
Getting Treatment in Chula Vista
San Diego County has multiple publicly-funded residential and outpatient treatment programs throughout the region. If you are someone that is struggling with addiction in the Chula Vista area, don’t worry; there are options available to you. Contact a dedicated treatment provider to start your journey to recovery today.