Opioids — either prescription medications or an illicit drug —present the most serious drug crisis the US has ever experienced. Nearly 2,000 Californians died last year from opioids, devastating families and communities across the state.
In California, opioid‐related deaths increased by 34% from 2006 to 2009 from an age‐adjusted rate of 3.3 to 4.4 per 100,000. By 2013, there were 1,934 opioid‐related deaths in California (4.2/100,000). Opioid pharmaceutical‐related deaths represented 82% of the total opioid‐related deaths in 2009, but by 2013, that had dropped to 73% of all opioid-related deaths. Heroin‐ related deaths in California have increased by 67% since 2006, and by 2013, heroin‐ related deaths in California accounted for 25% of all opioid‐related deaths.
Although California's overall drug poisoning and opioid-related death rates (9.7 and 4.2 respectively in 2013) are lower than the national average, as the most populous state in the country, the raw number of individuals affected by improper prescribing and misuse is substantial. In addition, the rates vary significantly across counties and even within counties.