CHCF Issues Publication on Substance Use in California

The California Health Care Foundation (CHCF) recently issued its first California Health Care Almanac publication titled, “Substance Use in California: A Look at Addiction and Treatment.” The report uses the most recent data available to provide an overview of substance use and addiction in the state, and details prevalence of substance use disorder (SUD), use of alcohol and other drugs, mortality, emergency department use, treatment, workforce, and spending.

Key findings of the publication include:

  • Alcohol use disorder was more prevalent that other types of SUDs. Six percent of Californians reported meeting the criteria for dependence on alcohol, compared to three percent for illicit drugs.
  • SUDs were most prevalent among young adults age 18 to 25, occurring at nearly twice the state average rate.
  • Use of alcohol and other drugs often begins in adolescence. By 11th grade, more than half of California students have used alcohol and almost 40 percent have used cannabis.
  • Alcohol accounted for more nonfatal emergency department visits than all other drug diagnoses combined.
  • The number of heroin-related emergency department visits in California more than tripled between 2006 and 2017.

The full report and reference guide is available here. These materials are part of CHCF’s California Health Care Almanac, a resource for key data and analyses describing the state’s health care landscape.