Drinking, drugs and death are on the rise in Orange County as deadly incidents of overdoses increase, according to a report released Tuesday.
The increases were especially noticeable for older victims.
From 2014 to 2015, substance abuse deaths in Orange County increased from 18.7 per 100,000 to 21.9 per 100,000, with the biggest jump in the 55 to 64 age group.
The death rate from alcohol and drug overdoses in the 55 to 64 age group jumped from 40.1 to 51.6 per 100,000 from 2014-15, according to the report released by the Orange County Health Care Agency.
Hospitalization rates for substance abuse remained stable at 17.5 per 100,000, according to the report.
From 2013-15, Laguna Woods topped the death rate with 50.8 per 100,000, followed by Dana Point at 40.1 and Seal Beach at 33.8.
Prescription drug overdoses have dipped 2.4 percent since 2014, but illegal drug overdoses jumped by 2.1 percent, according to the report. Prescription drugs, however, remain the top cause of overdoses.
“Laguna Woods had one of the highest hospitalization and overdose death rates, replacing Los Alamitos from the previous report” in 2014, according to the agency. “Dana Point remained as one of the cities in Orange County with the highest hospitalization and death rates, along with high hospitalization rates in Laguna Beach and high overdose death rates in Laguna Woods.”
Cities at the bottom of the list of substance abuse deaths from 2013-15 include Foothill Ranch with less than one a year, Villa Park, with an average of one a year, and Coto de Caza with an average of 1.3 over the three-year period.
The highest rates of substance abuse are concentrated mostly in the coastal and southern cities of the county, according to the report.
From 2013 to 2015, the county recorded 16,396 hospitalizations and 2047 deaths due to substance abuse and poisoning incidents. Sheriff’s-coroner investigators reviewed 1.011 deaths during that period.
Males were more likely to end up in a hospital than females at a rate of 20.2 to 14.8 per 100,000. The age group most likely to be hospitalized was 45 to 54.
Whites accounted for 78 percent of the patients who required hospital stays, followed by Latinos at 14 percent, Asian-Pacific Islanders at 3 percent and blacks at 2 percent.
Patients required 70,000 days in a hospital, with an average length of 4.3 days. That amounted to about $430 million in medical costs.
Drug and alcohol abuse deaths soared 82 percent from 2000 to 2015, and during the same time, drug overdoses jumped 88 percent. Alcohol abuse increased 76 percent from 2000 to 2015.
—City News Service
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