Santa Ana's Top Addiction Resource & Information Guide

Santa Ana, California, is one of the most populated cities in one of the most populous counties in the most populous state, but it has its share of problems, including substance abuse. While alcohol abuse is more common, opioid abuse is more deadly, especially fentanyl.

Last Edited:

01/04/2022

Santa Ana, California is a popular place to live. It’s the second-most populous city in Orange County, 11th in the state. Orange County is the third-most populous county in California, itself the most populous state in the U.S.

Popularity doesn’t mean problem-free. Matters of concern in Santa Ana include lead contamination due to gasoline (24% of soil samples tested as hazardous levels), high numbers of homeless individuals and related issues, and higher concentrations of COVID-19 positivity, mental illness, and substance abuse.

Demographics

Santa Ana has a population of about 330,000. Orange County’s population is roughly 10 times that at 3 million, while California’s is more than 39.5 million.

Not that it’s the most crowded. Santa Ana’s population density is around 12,175 per square mile, making it only the 30th most densely populated city in the state and the 194th in the U.S.

Economics

Santa Ana’s importance to Orange County includes being the county seat and a major financial center.

In 2019, in Santa Ana, California:

  • The poverty rate was 15.7%, higher than Orange County (10.9%), California (13.4%), and the U.S. (12.3%).
  • The employment rate was 49%, lower than Orange County (51%), but higher than California (45%) and the U.S. (46%).
  • The median annual household income was $70,084, however, it was higher than the U.S. ($65,712) but still lower than Orange County ($95,934) and California ($80,440). OC has the seventh-highest median income in California.
  • Educational achievement, an important factor in economic success, is lower in Santa Ana than almost all of Orange County. Nearly half (44.5%) have no high school diploma, compared to 15.5% in Orange County overall. Only 12.4% have a bachelor’s degree (38.4% in Orange County) and only 1.1% have an advanced degree such as an MBA, Phd or MD. (4.3% in Orange County).
  • The median property value was $558,400, lower than Orange County ($725,100) and slightly lower than California ($568,500), but much higher than the U.S. ($240,500).

Address: 27123 Calle Arroyo #2121, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675

People

Santa Ana’s population is younger, at a median age of 33.2 years, compared to Orange County (38.6), California (37), and the U.S. (38.5).

Increasingly, Santa Ana, California is a minority-majority area. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey (ACS), 77.9% of the population is Hispanic or Latino. That’s more than double the percentage of Hispanics and Latinos in Orange County as a whole (34%) and almost double California’s 39.4%.

Only 22.1% are neither Hispanic nor Latino, of which almost half (10.9%) are Asian (about half the OC rate but greater than California’s 14.6%).

Only 8.9% of the Santa Ana populace is (non-Hispanic) White (less than one-fourth of Orange County’s 39.7% and California’s 36.3%).

To meet these needs, Santa Ana needs culturally sensitive substance abuse counselors than at least some of the surrounding areas, with fluency in Spanish a plus.

Substance Abuse in Santa Ana, California

It’s difficult to distinguish alcohol and drug abuse rates in Santa Ana distinct from Orange County and other California communities but based on some available data for 2015, it’s not as bad.

For example, in 2015, the drug and alcohol hospitalization rate was:

  • Less than one-eighth of 1% (0.12%) in Santa Ana (415 out of 334,909)
  • Less than one-fifth of 1% (0.18%) in Orange County overall (5,481 out of 3,118,717)

The greatest number of nonfatal emergency department visits were for alcohol.

The drug overdose death rates were even lower:

  • One fiftieth of 1% (0.02%) in Santa Ana (68 out of 334,909)
  • Less than one-fortieth of 1% (0.023%) in Orange County (716 out of 3,118,717)

According to the report, 2017 Opioid Overdose & Death in Orange County, 70% of overdose deaths in the OC involved opioids and 55% of opioid-involved deaths involved prescription opioids as opposed to heroin.

California as a whole reported only 348 overdose deaths in 2015, including:

  • Prescription Drugs – 176 (51%)
  • Illicit Drugs – 84 (24%)
  • Alcohol – 19 (6%)

An additional 67 (19%) deaths involved more than one substance.

Despite its low overdose death rate, alcohol is the most abused substance and the most common SUD.

Alcohol rehab seems more needed in Orange County than in other parts of the state. Binge alcohol use (five or more standard drinks in two hours) was a full percentage point higher in OC (35.5%) than in California as a whole (34.4%).

California ranks poorly for substance abuse treatment among the states. It’s in fifth place for the highest percentage of adults who haven’t got the help they need and for the fewest rehab facilities per drug user.

Fentanyl

Since 2017, overdose deaths have dramatically increased. Orange County alone had 668 overdose deaths in 2020. California had 5,363. Almost three-quarters (72%) involved fentanyl.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 times as strong as heroin. It is often added to or substituted for other opioids because it is cheaper and easier to obtain. In 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued its first health advisory about illegal fentanyl.

The danger is that opioid users may not know they are taking fentanyl. Due to its potency, even a tiny miscalculation can be fatal. In 2020, 65% (432) of Orange County’s overdose deaths involved fentanyl.

Student Substance Abuse in Santa Ana, California Colleges

In California, more than half the students are using alcohol by the 11th grade (ages 16–17), and more than a third are using marijuana.

Substance use disorders often develop between the ages of 10 and 19. Most research doesn’t examine substance use before age 12, though research shows some adolescents have already begun substance use by then.

The most common age range for SUDs in California, however, is between the ages of 18 and 25, roughly corresponding with the college years. Nearly twice as many Californians (15%) have an SUD at those ages as those 26 and older (7.7%), and almost three times as many as ages 12 to 17 (5.1%).

That’s likely because the brain is more vulnerable to SUDs while it is still developing, which brain scans indicate is around age 25. Alcohol and drugs also can affect that development. That makes it important that substance abuse stops as soon as possible.

Orange County has more than 25 accredited college and university campuses, in-person and online, including at least three in Santa Ana, CA, offering substance abuse assistance for their students:

Substance Abuse Treatment

Not all substance use is necessarily substance abuse, but:

  • Any use of illicit drugs is substance abuse.
  • Any use of legal prescription drugs other than as prescribed or without a prescription is substance abuse.
  • Any use of legal substances such as alcohol when one is underage is substance abuse.

Not all substance abuse indicates a substance use disorder (SUD) such as addiction, either. Whether an individual has an SUD and its severity is determined by 11 diagnostic criteria, including being unable to stop use despite the substance’s destructive effect on the individual’s life.

In 2016, 8.5% of Californians, or 2.75 million people—lower than the national rate of 10.6%—met the criteria for a substance use disorder in the past year, including:

  • Alcohol – 6.4% (2,088,000)
  • Illicit drugs – 3.3% (1,068,000)
  • Pain medication – 0.6% (206,000)

Only 10% who need treatment for an SUD receive it, however.

What to Look For When Choosing From Rehabs in Santa Ana, California

Accreditation

To show that they have met the minimum requirements or standards for behavioral health and opioid treatment programs (OTPs), the center or organization needs accreditation from an independent body. Among the bodies approved for this purpose by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association (SAMHSA) are:

Also, though it’s not on SAMHSA’s list, LegitScript certification is required to advertise on Google and Facebook.

Some addiction treatment centers can also become a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) or a designated collaborative organization (DCO).

In California, the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) also licenses and certifies substance abuse treatment facilities.

Client-to-Staff Ratio

There is no standard for the proper client- or patient-to-staff ratio. Every state can set its own and not all do. The lower the better seems to be the conventional wisdom, with some states and rehabs setting a 1-to-3 ratio as ideal but 1-to-8 or 1-to-10 acceptable. The American Nurses Association recommends 1-to-5 for rehabilitation and 1-to-4 for psychiatric. That only applies to nurses, however, and rehabs have other therapeutic staff.

Treatment Options

Before deciding on a substance abuse treatment program, clients or their representatives should make sure it meets their needs.

In 2015, less than half (48.5%) of California treatment programs covered co-occurring disorders.

In 2018, Orange County had less than half as many treatment slots for narcotic replacement therapies such as methadone (5.5 per 10,000 residents) as California (12.8), though nearly half the counties did not offer NRT.

Orange County did have the highest residential detoxification capacity in the state (6.9 per 10,000) and its overall residential capacity (4.2) was greater than the state as a whole (3.0).

The Orange County Health Care Agency lists behavioral health services, including several in Santa Ana, offering:

Treatment Options at Rehab Centers in Santa Ana, California

There are many types of treatment available—programs, treatment approaches, and levels of care—with some overlap. If your desired treatment option is not available in Santa Ana, consider seeking out a Huntington Beach rehab center.

In Orange County, Medi-Cal provides for these levels of care:

  • Outpatient. The client visits the treatment center (which need not be a medical facility) for up to nine hours—usually three three-hour sessions—for drug education classes and therapy.
  • Intensive outpatient program (or IOP program). Like standard outpatient, except the client visits the center for nine-to-19 hours weekly. (Partial hospitalization, sometimes referred to as Day Hospital, is similar, except it takes place for at least 20 hours a week in a facility with medical services.)
  • Inpatient drug rehab treatment. Also known as residential because the client stays at a treatment center 24-7 with medical services available (though not necessarily on-site) so their health and behavior can be monitored. Food, recreation, therapy, and a bed are provided on-site for up to 90 days at a time.
    • Luxury rehab. A type of high-end rehab facility which has better accommodations, food, views, and even virtual offices so that business owners and executives can continue to work so long as it does not interfere with their therapy and recovery.

What to Expect During Inpatient Drug Rehab in Santa Ana, California

All inpatient treatment begins with the intake process, the initial screening, and assessment as the client checks into rehab. This is when the client’s substance use disorder is evaluated and the individualized course of treatment is planned.

Services included in treatment may include:

  • Detoxification. If the client is still actively using substances at the time they enter rehab, a medically monitored detox may be needed (in rare cases, withdrawal can be fatal) before they begin inpatient treatment.
  • Behavioral therapies. Cognitive-behavioral therapy and related types of talk or psychotherapy help people with SUDs ignore or transform negative thoughts and learn healthier coping behaviors. Similar or related therapies include dialectical behavior therapy, rational emotive behavior therapy, motivational interviewing, contingency management, and the Matrix Model.
  • Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT). The use of drugs plus therapy and counseling to treat substance use disorders. This can involve narcotic replacement therapy (NRT) while the client undergoes rehab. The use of methadone or buprenorphine (Suboxone) can manage withdrawal from opioids and maintain sobriety without the opioid high or rush. Other forms of MAT include:
    • Naltrexone (Vivitrol, Revia): Blocks euphoric effects of alcohol or opioids; does not prevent or mitigate against withdrawal effects.
    • Disulfiram (Antabuse): Causes alcohol to make the drinker sick.
    • Acamprosate (Campral): Lessens alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
  • Mental health care. Substance use disorders frequently co-occur with mental health disorders—sometimes called a dual diagnosis—but are sometimes undiagnosed because the symptoms are similar. Substance use sometimes begins in an attempt to self-treat symptoms of the mental health issue. In these cases, collateral treatment is needed. A qualified dual diagnosis rehab will check for this during intake.
  • Holistic rehab treatments. Exercise, yoga, meditation, art or music therapy, and equine therapy are sometimes included to reinforce mindfulness.

Aftercare Planning Procedures

Treatment for substance use disorders is not a total cure. The best current science suggests that once an SUD develops, it can only be controlled. Relapse will always remain a risk, even after decades of abstinence and sobriety.

So, a well-designed treatment plan will include aftercare, a continuing plan to help maintain sobriety after inpatient and outpatient treatment ends.

Aftercare or continuing care is part of a continuum of care, not an afterthought. Aftercare helps clients retain and reinforce their resolve to stay sober. The best rehabs will begin planning aftercare when treatment begins.

Support groups

While exercise, diet, hobbies, and avoiding the people, places, and situations that can trigger a relapse are important to ongoing recovery, they can’t cover every eventuality. For that, one needs a team of experts, people who have experienced substance abuse and recovery, who can listen without judgment and offer advice.

That’s one of the advantages a mutual aid fellowship or support group offers. There are two main types: 12-step faith-based and non-12 step secular. Always check if meetings are in person, online, or on hiatus.

Twelve-step rehab

The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are often useful tools in bringing people to rehab. Working the steps—acknowledging one’s helplessness with addiction, seeking help from a higher power, attempting redress, and helping others—and attending meetings helps many maintain sobriety after rehab.

Twelve-step rehab is among the most common treatment types, so consider seeking out rehabs all over the state—such as a rehab center in Modesto, California.

  • Alcoholics Anonymous. Meetings of people with alcohol use disorders (AUDs) to offer mutual support as they try to stay abstinent and work the Twelve Steps. Those with long-term sobriety sometimes act as sponsors to newer members. More than two hundred meetings weekly in Santa Ana, CA alone, plus meetings in other cities and online.
  • Al-Anon and Alateen. Mutual support groups For the family and friends of those with AUDs. Only one Al-Anon meeting is listed in Santa Ana, CA, but there are almost 200 within 25 miles of Orange County (15 Alateen), plus electronic meetings.
  • Adult Children of Alcoholics. Twelve Step group for people who grew up in families that were dysfunctional due to an AUD. There don’t seem to be any face-to-face meetings in Orange County, but there are nearly a dozen Zoom meetings.
  • Narcotics Anonymous. Like AA but for those with narcotic use disorders. Three meetings are listed in Santa Ana, another eight throughout Orange County, plus five virtual meetings.
  • Nar-Anon and Narateen. Like Al-Anon/Alateen but for the family and friends of those with narcotic use disorders. Two Nar-Anon meetings are listed in Santa Ana (in Spanish), another seven within 25 miles of Orange County, plus virtual meetings (Narateen, too).
  • Cocaine Anonymous. One meeting is listed in Santa Ana, plus 14 more weekly meetings (10 virtual, one hybrid) and two monthly (virtual) meetings in Orange County.
  • Dual Recovery Anonymous. Twelve-step program for those with a dual diagnosis/co-occurring disorders. One meeting was listed in Santa Ana, two more in Orange County, plus virtual meetings.
  • Marijuana Anonymous. No meetings in Santa Ana, but five throughout Orange County plus seven Zoom meetings.
  • Local Celebrate Recovery groups. All 12-step programs are at least quasi-Christian but Celebrate Recovery is a Christ-centered 12-step program based in Calvary Chapel in Santa Ana. There are three meetings listed in Santa Ana, plus another 17 throughout Orange County.

Non-12-step rehab

The Twelve Steps are based on faith, not evidence, which may make them a poor fit for some people. Non-faith-based alternatives may serve a similar purpose without reference to God. The Twelve Steps also teach that people with SUDs are helpless in their addiction. Non-12-step programs say they do have the power.

  • SMART Recovery. Self-Management and Recovery Training has trained facilitators who teach scientifically validated tools and techniques to change addictive behaviors. Although there are no meetings in Santa Ana, there are several meetings based in other Orange County cities that have moved online.
  • LifeRing Secular Recovery. Members share experiences to help them design their recovery plan. There are no meetings in Santa Ana, and only one face-to-face meeting in Orange County (Huntington Beach), but there are online meetings.
  • Women for Sobriety. A support group of women and for women in recovery. No meetings listed in Santa Ana and only two in Orange County (Los Alamitos).
  • Moderation Management. This group aims to curtail problem drinking, not necessarily all drinking. There don’t seem to be any face-to-face meetings in or near Orange County but there are phone and video meetings available.

Veterans Affairs Addiction Treatment

Orange County’s veteran population is somewhere between 107,000 and 130,000. Santa Ana is home to about 5,000 of them. Many of them have or will experience physical and mental health issues due to their time in service.

Illicit substance abuse among military personnel increases when they leave the service and become veterans. Marijuana and alcohol are most used, but opioids, both prescription and illegal, and cocaine send more to substance abuse treatment centers.

One reason is pain, seizures, diseases associated with unprotected sex or sharing needles (HIV/AIDS, hepatitis), mental health issues associated with readjustment to civilian life (anxiety, depression, stress, trauma), and severe mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

There are two VA outpatient clinics in Santa Ana, CA—the Santa Ana VA Clinic on Brookhollow Drive and the West Santa Ana VA Clinic, inside the Community Resource & Referral Center on West Santa Ana Boulevard—and many more throughout Orange County, plus the VA Long Beach Healthcare System.

Suicide is also a risk for mental health and substance use disorders. Veterans or their loved ones who exhibit severe mental illness or talk about taking their lives can call the Veterans Crisis Line (800a273a8255 then press 1) or text message 838255.

Paying for Rehabs in Santa Ana, California

In the U.S., more than half of all health insurance comes from employer-provided plans. In 2014, businesses with 50 or more employees were required to provide mental health and substance abuse treatment as essential health benefits.

There are other exceptions. Even when there aren’t, that doesn’t mean they cover all the costs of luxury rehab.

Paying for rehab may be different in other centers, such as an Oxnard, CA, rehab center, so be sure to compare your options.

In California, some people qualify for substance abuse treatment under Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program. Check eligibility and apply for benefits.

The federal Medicare program also provides people 65 and older some coverage for mental health and substance abuse treatment.

Traveling to Santa Ana, California Rehab Centers

There are three large airports with regularly scheduled flights within 50 miles of Santa Ana, and another two medium ones—plus another seven without scheduled flights—but only one with strong connectivity to other airports: Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

Santa Ana, CA, is within easy driving distance of Los Angeles, just 35 miles away. Other nearby cities include San Clemente, 30 miles, and San Juan Capistrano, 23 miles.

For travel by train, bus, and taxi, the Santa Ana Regional Transportation Center (SARTC) or The Depot is close to five freeways and the John Wayne Airport. It also is on the route of Amtrak Pacific Surfliner and Metrolink. There are also intercity and interstate bus transportation, taxis, car rentals, and parking.

Santa Ana, California Addiction Treatment Resources

  • NAMI WarmLine. 877-910-WARM. The National Alliance for Mental Illness operates a non-crisis phone line for mental health and substance abuse issues. 9 a.m to 3 a.m.weekdays, 10 a.m. to 3 a.m.Saturday and Sunday.
  • 24 Hour Suicide Prevention Line. 877-7-CRISIS. Immediate, confidential over-the-phone suicide prevention services.
  • OC Links: 24/7 information and links to the Orange County Health Care Agency’s Behavioral Health Services. Call (855 OC-LINKS).

The Orange County Health Care Agency has many resources online, including:

    • Adult and Older Adult Behavioral Health (AOABH) Services. Provides a range of outpatient and residential treatment programs designed to reduce or eliminate the abuse of alcohol and other drugs within the community. Lists of outpatient clinics and specialized services.
    • Behavioral Health Services. Which mental health and substance abuse services are available to eligible Orange County residents, including prevention, early intervention, and treatment services.
    • Downloadable brochures:
      • Behavioral Health Services Navigation
  • Addressing the Opioid Crisis in Orange County, CA
  • 2017 Opioid Overdose & Death in Orange County
    • Medication Assisted Treatments for Opioid Addiction (MAT)

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Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

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