Updated on March 11, 2024
2 min read

Updated Drug and Alcohol Statistics for California

California has been facing a significant drug and alcohol addiction crisis, which has had far-reaching consequences for individuals, families, and communities across the state. This article presents an overview of the latest statistics on substance use disorders, the opioid crisis, youth substance use, and treatment and recovery challenges in California, highlighting the urgent need for effective solutions.

  • California's opioid-related deaths spiked 121% from 2019 to 2021.1
  • In 2021, there were 10,901 drug overdose deaths in California.2
  • Over 70,000 of the 106,000 drug overdose deaths in the U.S. were from fentanyl in 2021.3

Substance Use and Disorders

Substance use and disorders are prevalent among Californians, with a significant portion of the population using alcohol and illicit drugs. Consider these statistics:

  • Half of Californians over age 12 reported using alcohol in the past month.4
  • 20% of Californians reported using illicit drugs.4

These numbers demonstrate the widespread nature of substance use issues in the state.

Opioid Crisis and Overdose Deaths

The opioid epidemic has hit California particularly hard in recent years, with a sharp increase in opioid-related deaths. Here are some key statistics:

  • The average age-adjusted rate of opioid-related deaths among Latinos in California was 2.6 deaths per 100,000 from 2006 to 2016.5

The alarming rise in opioid-related deaths underscores the urgent need to address this crisis.


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Youth Substance Use

Substance use among young people in California is a growing concern, with a significant proportion of students using alcohol or drugs. Here are some relevant statistics:

  • From 2017 to 2019, 7% of 7th graders, 15% of 9th graders, 23% of 11th graders, and 29% of students in non-traditional programs reported using alcohol or drugs in the past month.6
  • 20% of 9th graders used alcohol or drugs at least once in the last month.7

These numbers highlight the importance of early intervention and prevention efforts to help young people avoid developing substance use disorders.

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Treatment and Recovery

Access to quality treatment and recovery services is essential for addressing substance use disorders in California. Here are some relevant statistics:

  • On a single day count in 2019, 7,640 clients were in substance abuse treatment.8
  • Of the 29.0 million adults who perceived that they ever had a substance use problem, 72.2% (or 20.9 million) considered themselves to be in recovery or to have recovered from their drug or alcohol use problem.8

While many people have successfully achieved recovery, ensuring access to effective treatment remains a critical challenge.

The statistics presented in this article paint a grim picture of the drug and alcohol addiction landscape in California. From high rates of substance use and opioid-related deaths to the concerning levels of youth substance use, it is clear that the state faces significant challenges in addressing this crisis. However, by prioritizing prevention, expanding access to quality treatment, and supporting long-term recovery, California can work towards a healthier, more resilient future for all its residents.

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Updated on March 11, 2024
8 sources cited
Updated on March 11, 2024
  1. "California's opioid epidemic: The stunning numbers behind the crisis." CalMatters, accessed 2023.
  2. "Drug Overdose Mortality by State." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021.
  3. "Fentanyl Facts." County of Santa Clara Behavioral Health Services Department, accessed 2023.
  4. "2022 Edition — Substance Use in California." California Health Care Foundation, 2022.
  5. "The opioid crisis within the COVID-19 pandemic: Redefining disparities in the Latinx population." Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 2022.
  6. "Substance Use - Substance Use - KIDS COUNT Data Center." KidsData.org, accessed 2023.
  7. "Substance Use." California School-Based Health Alliance, accessed 2023.
  8. "New Data Show 20.9 Million Americans Are in Recovery from Substance Use and/or Mental Health Problems." Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2023.

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