Substance Abuse

Treatment Admissions and Substance-Related Deaths Grow

A broad spectrum of public health and safety problems are directly linked to the disease of substance use disorder, including addiction, traffic accidents, domestic violence, crime, unintended pregnancy, and serious conditions such as cancer, liver disease, HIV/AIDS, and birth defects. Youth who engage in drinking and substance use early are more likely to develop alcohol dependence later in life and are more likely to experience changes in brain development that may have life-long effects, including problems with memory and normal growth and development.1 This indicator presents a variety of commonly-used indicators to help gauge the extent of substance use disorder (SUD) in San Bernardino County. These include trends in SUD-related admissions to County treatment facilities, serious (injury or fatal) alcohol-involved auto collisions, and SUD-related deaths.

Substance Abuse

How is San Bernardino County Doing?

Alcohol- and Drug-Related Admissions to County-Funded Treatment

Services, San Bernardino County, 2013-2017
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Source: County of San Bernardino, Department of Behavioral Health, CalOMS Dataset

SUD-related treatment continues to grow:

  • In 2016/17, SUD-related admissions to County treatment facilities rose 8% in one year, led by increases in admissions for alcohol addiction (+18%) and methamphetamine addiction (+10%).
  • Over the past five years, overall admissions grew 40%, driven by admissions related to alcohol (+119%) and opiates (+102%).
  • 22% of clients receiving SUD services also received County mental health services in 2016/17, while 48% have received mental health services in their lifetimes.2

Inland Empire Opioid Crisis Coalition

The San Bernardino County Department of Behavioral Health is an active participant in the Inland Empire Opioid Crisis Coalition. The coalition has enlisted a law and justice champion to better connect with law enforcement, including launching a pilot program with Colton Police Department to train officers to attend to opioid overdoses. The coalition developed an opioid awareness video in partnership with the Inland Empire Health Plan and Riverside County, which has had over 200,000 views thanks to widespread release on social media:

Source: County of San Bernardino, Department of Behavioral Health

Alcohol-Involved Serious Collisions per 100,000 Residents

San Bernardino County and California, 2013-2017
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There were fewer alcohol-involved accidents in 2017 than the previous year:

  • Between 2016 and 2017, alcohol-involved collisions fell 5% compared to a 1% decrease statewide.
  • In 2017, 11% of serious collisions in San Bernardino County involved alcohol, compared to 10% of collisions statewide.
  • Over the past five years, alcohol-involved collisions rose from 47 collisions per 100,000 San Bernardino County residents in 2013 to 53 collisions per 100,000 residents in 2017.
  • In 2017, alcohol-involved collisions claimed 90 lives in San Bernardino County.

Drug-induced and alcohol-related deaths increased:

  • Since the 10-year low in 2012 of 9.2 drug-induced deaths per 100,000 residents, drug-induced deaths in San Bernardino County increased steadily to a 2016 rate of 11.3 deaths per 100,000. Despite the rise, the county’s 2016 rate is better than the statewide rate of 12.2 per 100,000.
  • Deaths caused by chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, which are often associated with substance use disorder, increased, from 13.0 per 100,000 in 2007 to 15.5 per 100,000 in 2016. The county has more chronic liver disease and cirrhosis deaths than the statewide average (12.2 per 100,000 in 2016). 3

The Mental Health/Substance Abuse Connection

Mental health and substance use disorder are often interconnected. More than 8.9 million people nationally are reported to have co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders. When treated concurrently, treatments are found to be more effective. Treating the whole person improves wellbeing by leading to reductions in addiction relapse, reemergence of psychiatric symptoms, and utilization of crises intervention services.

Source: County of San Bernardino, Department of Behavioral Health

1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( 2San Bernardino County CalOMS dataset 3California Department of Public Health, County Health Status Profiles (