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Laguna Niguel, California, is a small city in Orange County, with just shy of 65,000 residents. The median age for residents in this planned community is 43.9 years old, roughly middle aged. This bucolic city is located at the midpoint between Los Angeles and San Diego. The city’s name comes from the Spanish word laguna, meaning lagoon, and Nigueli, the name of a nearby Janueno Indian village.
As part of Orange County, Laguna Niguel residents are at risk of abusing drugs or alcohol. The Orange County Register reported in 2017 that death in the county due to drugs or alcohol abuse skyrocketed 82% between 2000 and 2015, with opioid abuse being the leading cause. There were about 700 deaths annually from substance abuse poisoning in the county, with cities close to the water or further south, toward San Diego, suffering the most.
To understand the impact of addiction on Laguna Niguel and surrounding areas of Orange County, it is important to know which substances are abused most often. Residents of the community are at risk of exposure to these substances, which increases their risk of abusing and becoming dependent on these drugs.
According to the Orange County report, the leading prescription opioids abused in Orange County are:
In 2011, Laguna Niguel’s rate of ER admissions for opioid poisoning was 43 out of every 100,000 people; by 2015, Laguna Niguel’s opioid hospitalization rate was 50 out every 100,000 residents.
Overall, men in Laguna Niguel and Orange County were twice as likely as women to overdose on opioid drugs. Neighboring cities Laguna Beach and Laguna Woods both had high reported rates of ER admissions, but Laguna Niguel, as a smaller area, reported fewer opioid poisoning and overdose emergency admissions. However, people between the ages of 45 and 54 had higher rates of opioid overdose and hospitalizations than younger residents, so the age group living in Laguna Niguel is at a higher risk.
The Orange County coroner reports that 70% of drug overdose deaths involved opioids, either prescription or illicit.
Although Laguna Niguel’s narcotic overdose death rate remained roughly stable between 2011 and 2015, there were 10 overdose deaths in both 2013 and 2014, while there were seven in 2011 and 2015. A sudden dip to two overdose deaths in 2012 marked an unusual year during the survey.
Fentanyl is one of the leading causes of the recent spike in opioid overdose deaths around the nation. In 2016, the California Senate passed Senate Bill 1323, designed to combat fentanyl import and abuse by increasing criminal penalties for those found distributing, selling, or possessing illicit versions of this potent narcotic. A senator from Laguna Niguel was one of the co-creators of the bill.
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Addiction is a chronic disease that changes the brain, according to NIDA. This condition changes structures in the brain, which impacts how neurotransmitters are released and reabsorbed. This effects mood and mental health. Addiction is also closely correlated with existing mental illness—people who struggle with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, eating disorders, and personality disorders are at higher risk of abusing drugs or alcohol to self-medicate the uncomfortable symptoms of their behavioral or mental condition.
Understanding the rates of hospitalization, mental illness, and childhood problems in Orange County and Laguna Niguel can help one understand approaches to treatment that can best benefit the community.
There are specific community health resources related to drugs and alcohol in Orange County and in Laguna Niguel specifically. In addition to federal resources, the city and county provide a lot of information on treatment programs and support options. There are also several nonprofit and even free treatment options.
Addiction is a serious condition, but there is a lot of help available for residents of Laguna Niguel, California, to manage this disorder. The city and county governments support many programs and offer a great deal of information and resources on treatment options. There are also several free or nonprofit options. Substance abuse can lead to overdose, death, and chronic health complications, so get help now to change behaviors and reclaim a healthy life.