San Diego County ranks as the eighth largest city in the United States of America located in southwestern California, adjacent to the coast of Pacific Ocean. San Diego shares about 80 miles of border with Mexico. The San Ysidro port of entry, close to Tijuana City, is known to be the busiest border crossing in the world, accommodating approximately 40 million legal crossings annually. Both these cities are geographically located on major drug trafficking routes that bring illegal drugs from South America into the United States. In particular, San Diego is a major transshipment point for both methamphetamines and marijuana. Each year the various bodies monitoring, eradicating and cracking down on the abuse of drugs formulate their respective data which gives insight into the trends of synthesized drugs being produced, trafficked and sold.
In 2013, a study done by the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) Substance Abuse monitoring program showed that prevalent abuse of certain prescription drugs were catalyzing the rise in heroin use in San Diego County. The drug use trends, when studied in the jail population, are a good indicator of what the crisis might be among the general population.
Researchers found out that heroin is used as a replacement for prescription opiates due the fact that it is cheaper and easier to obtain. Studies showed that the 27% of heroin users experimented with prescription drugs before trying heroin and that 63% used heroin as a substitute because it was easily available and was relatively more affordable. The 10-year period between 2002 to 2012 saw a significant rise of adult men as well women booked into jail because they tested positive for opiates.
This category of opiates includes heroin, morphine, hydrocodone, hydromorphone and codeine. The study done by the San Diego County Association of Governments Criminal Justice Research Division showed the rate increased from 5% to 10% in case of men and from 6% to 12% among women. According to the San Diego County Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force, from 2007 to 2012, there was an increase in the number of seizures of heroin that went up from 111 to 470.
The percentage of treatment admissions that indicated heroin to be the primary drug used also increased from 17 % to 23% and the number of deaths due to heroin overdose rose to 74 from 57. 2015 saw 104 deaths from heroin overdose in the county. This figure was up by more than 22% from the year before. In 2016, the price of heroin per gram has fallen from $50-$100 down to $50-$70. This paints a bleak picture in terms of how many people are going to continue using the drug and on top of that, more will be attracted to it due to its low sale price.
Reports from the National Forensic Laboratory Information System (NFLIS) in 2013 showed that methamphetamines continued to rank first among drug reports from items seized and analyzed in San Diego. Also due to prevailing use of methamphetamines, the year saw an overall decrease in the price per gram of methamphetamine. In 2013, a gram cost about $60-$80 whereas an ounce was sold approximately between $400 and $1200. A year before in 2012, it cost $80-$100 for a gram and between $900 and $1200 per ounce.
A total of 169 cases of overdose causing deaths were reported to have involved methamphetamine in 2013 – that is 5.4 per 100,000 people. The death toll seemed to have risen through 2008, when 83 overdose deaths were recorded, which is 2.7 per 100,000 people. Through the years ranging from 2005 to 2015, the amounts of cocaine seized along the borders of San Diego showed increase while the amount of marijuana seized over time declined. Methamphetamine seizures continued to increase during this period. The city of El Cajon situated in the heart of the Valley Mountains of San Diego has been named the world’s crystal meth capital for its many locations of shady clandestine labs.
When evaluating and reporting this data, it is very easy to forgo and forget that each entry represents a real human life. Why an individual falls prey to drug addiction or abuse is a very deep and personal story of each of these human tragedies. Analyzing this data will help people understand an issue that is very rapidly becoming a major concern for state as well as national politics. Illicit drug abuse costs the United States $193 billion annually due to lost productivity, healthcare expenses, and associated crime, according to a study by the National Drug Intelligence Center.
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