As of 2010, Amador County, California, was home to more than 38,000 citizens, and a recent government study of drug and alcohol related issues sheds some light on why these problems occur at a higher rate in Amador. The California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs as well as the Center for Applied Research Solutions, Inc., spearheaded this study.
What follows is an assessment of the findings to provide readers with statistics and insights to spread awareness about drug and alcohol abuse in their communities. Hopefully, this research will help spur local leaders to take action against the factors that enable drug and alcohol abuse and develop more comprehensive treatment options and assistance for affected residents of Amador.
Comparisons to National and Statewide Averages for Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Drug and alcohol abuse has far-reaching effects that extend from various forms of hardship at the individual level to tangible costs through health care, treatment programs, law enforcement, and education. These costs certainly affect the community as a whole.
Binge Drinking Rates in Amador County, CA
Binge drinking is a term used to describe the consumption of large quantities of alcohol in a short time. Binge drinking usually describes social gatherings or other instances where individuals choose to drink to get drunk, indulging in drinking to the point of intoxication. As of 2007, the national rate of individuals who participated in binge drinking at some point in that year was 30%. That same year, the rate in Amador County, California, was 36%, higher than the national average.
Additionally, the study concluded that binge drinking was more common for males than females, at rates of 46% and 26%, respectively.
Admission to Alcohol and Drug Treatment Programs
Between 2000 and 2005, there was a steady increase in the number of admissions into drug and alcohol treatment programs in comparison to the statewide average for California. That rate peaked in 2005, and since then Amador has seen a decline in admission rates to treatment facilities for drug and alcohol abuse. In 2000, the rate was about 207 per 100,000 residents. This number peaked in 2005 at about 750 admissions per 100,000 residents, well above the California statewide average for 2005 of 650 admissions per 100,000 residents.
Despite this seemingly sharp increase between 2000 and 2005, the admission rate into treatment programs in Amador steadily declined between 2005 and 2008, down to about 183 admissions per 100,000 residents in 2008, well below the California statewide average of more than 550 admissions per 100,000 residents. Part of the reason behind this apparent decrease in admissions could be due to differences in the rates of admission into detoxification and non-detoxification treatment programs.
There is some variance between detoxification and non-detoxification admissions. Detoxification programs are usually short-term services, and, in most cases, repeatedly occur for those treated. Alcohol and heroin addiction are most often treated through these detoxification programs, and since they are two of the most addictive drugs that also carry some of the most dangerous withdrawal symptoms, repeat detoxification treatments are often necessary to help addicts.
In California, the Substance Abuse Crime Prevention Act dictates that the criminal justice system can refer individuals to treatment services. Individuals referred in this manner typically receive priority over other admissions. In 2000, referrals made through the criminal judicial system comprised 26% of all detoxification program admissions. That percentage is increased to 42% by 2004.
Reasons for Admission Into Treatment Programs
Alcohol and various illicit drugs make up the bulk of admissions into treatment programs in Amador. As of 2008, methamphetamine addiction was responsible for 49% of all admissions into treatment programs. Alcohol abuse made up about 24% of all admissions, and marijuana use comprised 18% of all admissions. Heroin accounted for only 4% of admissions while cocaine and crack-cocaine use accounted for 3%.
Demographic Rates of Admission
Demographically, the admission rate in 2008 was highest for Caucasians at a rate of 204 per 100,000 residents, and Asians/Pacific Islanders at a rate of 517 per 100,000. Regarding age, 25 to 34-year-olds clocked an admission rate of 538 per 100,000, and 35 to 44-year-olds had a rate of 395 per 100,000. Those between the ages of 18 and 24 had the third highest rate at 334 per 100,000 residents.
Drug-Related Crime Statistics
Similar to the trends seen in the admission rate for drug and alcohol treatment programs, the rate of drug-related crimes steadily increased between 2000 and 2005 and has declined since. In 2000, the rate of felony and misdemeanor drug offenses was about 753 per 100,000 residents. By 2005, this rate had climbed to reach 1,364 per 100,000. In 2008, the drug-related crime rate dropped to about 653 per 100,000, far below the California statewide average of 910 per 100,000 for that year.
Amador’s drug-related crime rate was consistently below the state average for every year between 2000 and 2008 except for 2005. In 2005, the California state average for the drug-related crime was roughly 1,070 per 100,000, while Amador’s rate was about 1,364 per 100,000.
Demographic Findings for Drug-Related Crime Rates
Between 2000 and 2008, males had a higher arrest rate than females for drug-related felonies and misdemeanors. The split had generally hovered around 70% male and 30% female with the peak variance occurring in 2007, when males accounted for almost 74% of all arrests and females only 26%.
The arrest rate by age has varied greatly between 2000 and 2008. However, the 35 to 44-year-old group had the highest arrest rate of 1,499 per 100,000 residents in 2008, and 18 to 24-year-olds had the next highest rate at 1,407 per 100,000.
Unlike drug-related arrests, the rate of alcohol-related arrests for Amador increased over the years logged. In 2000, the rate was 1,330 per 100,000 residents, climbing to 1,493 per 100,000 in 2008. The only year the arrest rate for alcohol-related felonies and misdemeanors in Amador was lower than the California statewide average was 2003.
The majority of alcohol-related arrests were due to driving under the influence, or DUI, accounting for about 70% of arrests. The second-highest reason for arrest was public drunkenness, accounting for 29% of arrests. All other alcohol-related arrests measured less than 1%, primarily for violations of the liquor laws.
In terms of age, 25 to 34-year-olds had the highest arrest rate in 2008 for alcohol-related crimes at 2,659 per 100,000. Those 25 to 44-years-old and 45 to 54 had the second highest arrest rate at 2,017 per 100,000 for both groups. Those who were 18 to 24-years-old had the third highest arrest rate in 2008 at 1,979.
Alcohol-Related Fatalities in Motor Vehicle Crashes
One of the most common issues with an alcohol-related crime is driving under the influence. DUIs account for billions in costs to the American taxpayer each year, and thousands of lives are lost and even more are injured due to DUI. Amador County, California, has unfortunately had a higher fatality rate for alcohol-related accidents than the statewide average every year except 2006.
Hospitalization Rates for Drug and Alcohol Use
Alcohol and other drugs can sometimes cause acute and life-threatening conditions such as overdoses or alcohol poisoning. Amador saw a large amount of variance in hospitalization rates between 2000 and 2008. The lowest rate was in 2001 at about 178 per 100,000 residents. The highest rate was in 2004 at about 253 per 100,000.
Variance between Drug and Alcohol Hospitalizations
When we analyze these statistics further, the rates for alcohol-related hospitalizations and drug-related hospitalizations differ significantly. While alcohol-related hospitalizations decreased from 136 per 100,000 in 2000 to 69 per 100,000 in 2007, these rates were still higher than the California state averages every year except 2006. Conversely, drug-related hospitalizations increased from 110 per 100,000 in 2000 to 134 per 100,000 in 2007.
Alcohol and Drug-Induced Fatality Rates
The study’s final measured indicator was the number of deaths caused by drug and alcohol use. Unfortunately, Amador saw an increase in the number of fatalities resulting from both drugs and alcohol between 2000 and 2007.
In 2000, the death rate for alcohol use was about 14 per 100,000, and the death rate for drug use was about 8.5 per 100,000. Those numbers increased to about 18 per 100,000 for alcohol consumption and 15 per 100,000 for 2007. Alcohol-related fatalities peaked in 2004 at around 13 per 100,000, and drug-related deaths peaked in 2006 at about 26 per 100,000.
The United States is facing one of the most widespread drug overdose epidemics in history, largely due to misuse and overabundance of prescription opiates. For alcohol-related fatalities, the most common cause of death is alcoholic liver disease. With drug-related fatalities, the most commonly seen cause of death is accidental drug poisoning, or overdosing.
Conclusions for These Findings
One of the focal points of substance abuse treatment programs is finding the root causes behind addiction. While factors at the individual level certainly play a significant role in individual addictions, studies such as the one detailed in this assessment are conducted to determine whether steps can be taken at the societal level to help curb the negative impacts of drug and alcohol abuse.
Hopefully, this report and the included statistics have shed some light on the drug and alcohol abuse trends seen in Amador County, California. While most of the negative trends have declined in recent years, it is vital to recognize the prevalence of drug and alcohol abuse and ensure that Amador residents understand it is a very real problem, and seeking treatment is one of the best ways to prevent becoming a statistic of drug and alcohol abuse.