Drug Addiction in the Central Valley
California’s pastoral Central Valley is suffering from drug addiction — at rates that are well above those in the state’s major metro areas.
And drug availability throughout the valley “rivals the access found in cities such as San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco.” That’s according to Elevate Addiction Services, a drug treatment facility based in Watsonville, California.
Drug Trafficking Hub
It all comes down to Interstate 5, the primary artery that runs along the Pacific coast from Mexico to Canada. It’s an ideal route for drug traffickers.
As a result, hubs of criminal activity have been set up along the route. This is where the meth, prescription opioids, cocaine, heroin and marijuana are prepared for distribution and sale.
Because of these hubs, residents from even the most rural areas of the valley have easy access to a plethora of illegal drugs. (See related article, “Rural Drug Abuse: What’s Going On?“) And some of these substances are so highly habit-forming, a single usage can result in a lifetime of drug addiction.
Not Only California
Other states along I-5 have experienced the same problem.
In the last few years, Oregon has also become a hot spot for drug trafficking and cartel-related violence. Fox News reported that traffickers were using the I-5 corridor to run drugs from California up to Washington State, and even into Vancouver. Many of these drug organizations are finding it easier to operate in more rural and suburban areas.
Opioids and Heroin: Hot Items
It used to be that meth was the most pressing substance abuse concern in the California valley. But not anymore.
As of 2008, opioid and heroin abuse in the valley has outpaced the threat of meth. And now many opioid addicts have turned to the cheaper and more readily available heroin.
According to Elevate, the surge in heroin and opioid abuse and reflects the movement of illegal drugs across the U.S. So does the demographic shift from California’s coastal cities to the rural valley.
In February of this year, Fresno police seized a kilogram of heroin from a truck at a convenience store. That store was located near a middle school. The primary suspect is believed to have ties with Mexican drug cartels.
Untreated Abuse Strengthens Market
Local and national law enforcement agencies are striving to disrupt the flow of illegal drugs into the Central Valley. In the meantime, criminal drug makers and distributors always seem to be one step ahead of them.
As a result, untreated drug abuse and addiction continues to strengthen the market for illegal drugs. And communities increasingly recognize the need for substance abuse treatment. Some of them have begun to prioritize offering help to drug addicts. Rather than simply trying to get rid of the drugs themselves.
“Drug addiction treatment,” they say, “is the most progressive way to address drug crime.”