Addiction in Los Angeles

Addiction often affects areas that are highly populated more often than rural areas. While rural areas are affected, there are typically more cases in bigger cities such as Los Angeles, California. The reasons for this include several social, environmental and psychological factors. By examining statistics, the factors that push people to turn to drugs and alcohol in Los Angeles, and available treatment options, an in-depth look at addiction in this area can be better understood. This way, those who are struggling can receive the help they need.

What the Numbers Say

Drug and alcohol use go back many years in Los Angeles for a variety of reasons. Even over a decade ago, thousands of individuals enrolled in a public drug rehab program. According to the County of Los Angeles Public Health Substance Abuse Prevention and Control, 60,600 residents of LA County enrolled in public rehab programs between 2008 and 2009. Of these admissions, men made up 61%. Several arrests were made in LA County related to drugs, with 41,000 individuals being arrested for felonies and 34,000 people arrested for misdemeanor charges.

Between 2012 to 2013, the primary substances that accounted for most admissions to rehab facilities in the Los Angeles area were:

  • Marijuana (27%)
  • Alcohol (22%)
  • Heroin (20%)
  • Methamphetamine (19%)

In 2013, marijuana was classified as the primary drug problem for treatment admissions, involving 27.2% of LA County. Heroin accounted for 19.8% of admissions, methamphetamine accounted for 18.8%, cocaine accounted for 6.8%, prescription opioids and opioids other than heroin accounted for 3.3%, benzodiazepines, tranquilizers and sedatives accounted for 0.5%.

More recently, the Los Angeles County Sentinel Community Site published a report that in 2018 that 702,000 individuals over 12 years old had either an illicit alcohol or drug use disorder in LA County. As of March 2019, 6.1% of those 12 and older had an alcohol use disorder, 15.3% used marijuana and 10.9% used other illicit drugs. In 2015, heroin was the primary drug of choice among those seeking addiction treatment. Methamphetamine took second place, with alcohol and marijuana tied for third. Each year, the numbers surge and change, but the fact remains the same: the numbers are incredibly high and more needs to be done to help prevent addiction and help those that are actively struggling.

What Factors Drive People to Addiction?

When people talk about Los Angeles, they most likely discuss the beaches, tourist sites, expensive houses and sports. However, a discussion that may also come up is the drug and alcohol crisis occurring in the area. While addiction occurs everywhere across the U.S., Los Angeles has its own factors contributing to the area’s drug and alcohol problem.

One of the most significant factors contributing to the addiction problem in Los Angeles is poverty. A city so densely populated is bound to have poverty and homelessness issues, with resources for mental health and addiction treatment being few and far between in these communities. Many turn to drugs and alcohol to escape their reality.

Another contributing factor is the proximity to Hollywood and the entertainment industry. Show business is stressful and there is a lot of peer pressure as well as long hours—this typically is a recipe for people finding ways to cope with it all by turning to drugs and alcohol. Scandals often ensue, casting a more negative light on those struggling, perpetuating the stigma associated with drug and alcohol addiction.

Perhaps the biggest proponent of addiction in Los Angeles is stress. The big city is full of high living costs, tourism, densely populated areas, and high-stake jobs that push workers to their limits. This is also exacerbated by the fact that the cost of living in Los Angeles is often over $2,000 for a one-bedroom apartment to live downtown. As a majority of an individual’s money goes towards rent, people cannot enjoy life to its fullest. The stress can drive individuals to drugs and alcohol to cope, leaving them with a cycle of addiction they must fight their way out of.

Getting Help

Because Los Angeles is such a densely populated city, there are several detox and rehab facilities to help those struggling with active addiction. There are various Los Angeles addiction treatment facilities depending on your needs, price range and ability to travel. Casa Palmera is a Los Angeles rehab center that has an array of treatment modalities that provides individualized care for those who need it most.


Los Angeles, California, is a bustling city with a lot of opportunities yet some people here get caught up in finding ways to cope with life through unhealthy means. Casa Palmera, a drug and alcohol rehab in Los Angeles, offers various treatment options designed to meet your individual needs. To learn more, contact Casa Palmera today.


This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for medical advice. We understand that everyone’s situation is unique, and this content is to provide an overall understanding of substance use disorders. These disorders are very complex, and this post does not take into account the unique circumstances for every individual. For specific questions about your health needs or that of a loved one, seek the help of a healthcare professional.