Blow, crack, booze, weed. There are countless names for countless drugs in America, and in the eyes of many, Los Angeles drug abuse is about as common as it gets. Yet despite its notoriety, the City of Angels is not exactly the worst place in the country when it comes to drug abuse – although some could argue that it’s the most well-known.
Behind all the glitz and glamour of Hollywood and the homes of the upper class, Los Angeles is a city like any other, built on the backs of hard-working families, forged in the sweat of countless generations.
Millions of Americans inhabit and coexist on the streets of LA, throughout the different neighborhoods, soaking in the same California weather, living on the same little spot in the Golden State. Yet the disparaging differences between wealth and poverty can sometimes be jarring, and like any big city, crime is a major problem in LA.
But before you get the wrong idea about this city and its history with drugs and drug abuse, it’s important to take a look at the bigger picture and realize the sheer scale of drug usage and damage in the USA, across all 50 states.
Addiction Is Everywhere In America
Illicit drug use has been increasing nationwide, mostly due to a worsening opioid crisis that has been gripping the US for several years – the amalgam of bad medical policies, an influx of drugs from both abroad and at home, and a lagging healthcare system that struggles to help people, and educate them on how to get help.
Since the early days of addiction as a medical condition, to the era of the prohibition, and the last few decades of psychedelics and cocaine use, drugs have been a major problem in America for generations. Illegal drugs as well as alcohol have been the cause for thousands of drug-related deaths, from homicides and suicides driven by addiction and drug crime, to overdoses, accidents, and psychotic episodes.
Among Americans over the age of 12 back in 2013, about 9.4 percent of the population has recently used an illicit drug – and the number has been steadily rising these past five years. And contrary to some belief, Los Angeles drug abuse is not at the center of attention for addiction issues.
Statistics show that, regarding the recent and extremely volatile opioid crisis, the highest addiction rates come from prescription and heroin usage in the southern states, especially Texas, North Carolina, Florida and Alabama. Per capita, alcohol is more of an issue within the states of Washington, D.C., New Hampshire, Delaware and North Dakota than anywhere else. The top five states for marijuana usage are Alaska, Vermont, Colorado, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. And methamphetamines, notorious for being easily made at home, while flowing from Mexico, and producing more drug-related offenses than any other illicit drug, is most pervasive in the south and Midwest in states like Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Montana.
Where does the notoriety come from? From drugs. They do exist, and there is Los Angeles drug abuse – as well as drug-related crime, which is a common issue for law enforcement. Explaining the prevalence of drugs and general notoriety of Los Angeles drug abuse requires a look into the factors that make drug use more common in a society.
A Populous City For Los Angeles Drug Abuse
Los Angeles is one of the most populous cities in America, with more than 4 million people, and all the trouble that comes with such a large population. Dense urban environments exist due to a demand and supply of work, and the hustle and bustle of LA is no different from any other metropolis, with the added caveat of unbearable heat at certain times of the year.
This also creates a problem with poverty and homelessness, which continues to be an issue in LA that fuels the use of drugs. Furthermore, a lack of comprehensive and wide-reaching drug treatment programs throughout the city to help young homeless people stay safe and get off drugs compounds the issue, and a lack of peripheral programs, such as needle exchange programs, creates more problems.
Policy is a major issue – the US lacks the healthcare system to deal with major diseases like addiction in a poor and uninsured population, and the impact made by charitable organizations is minimal.
Aside from the struggles of being an urban area, California’s proximity to the southern border and existing history of crime further leads to the presence of cartels in the state, and the result is criminal activity in the state on massive levels.
Glitz, Glamour, And Dope
Aside from drug use, Los Angeles is notorious in other ways – most notably the existence of Hollywood, and the glitz and glamour of the American entertainment business. However, it’s not all glamour – countless Los Angeles drug abuse scandals and more recent allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse have shown that, generally speaking, showbiz has its fair share of skeletons in the closet.
The pressure and stress of the business don’t help – people become commodities. A lack in ability or willingness to perform in the ultra-competitive environment of show business might lead to failure, so many push themselves to the edge and beyond trying to reach stardom, or maintain it.
The pressure of celebrity gets to most in one way or another, and some cannot deal with it in a healthy way – further contributing to Los Angeles drug abuse, and the city’s overall notoriety.
Stress Is the Number One Killer
The entertainment industry is not the only industry in Los Angeles that demands massive amounts of commitment, dedication, and hustle.
As any large city, “making it” can be difficult – and part of the stress of living in LA is living with its costs. As the country’s second-largest city, a tourist attraction for countless visitors, and a magnet for talent in every form, almost everything in LA is more expensive than in most other parts of the country. Rent alone sits at an average of over $2,000 per month for a one-bedroom apartment, and a little less the further out you go from the city center.
Stress from a combination of factors that all come together in this one city contributes greatly to rampant Los Angeles drug abuse issues that are difficult to address fully. Sober living communities and Los Angeles drug abuse treatment centers are doing their best to aid people in the struggle against addiction and make a difference in the lives of those in LA.