Substance Abuse

Substance-Related Deaths are Up, Collisions are Down

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, 2009-2018
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Source: County of San Bernardino, Department of Behavioral Health, CalOMS Dataset

Overall SUD-related treatment fell in 2017/18 for the first time in five years:

  • SUD-related admissions to County treatment facilities fell 1% between 2016/17 and 2017/18.
  • Over the past 10 years, admissions grew 7%, driven by a 150% increase in opiate admissions and 13% increase in alcohol admissions, but counterbalanced by double-digit decreases for admission for other substances.
  • 20% of clients receiving SUD services also received County mental health services in 2017/18, while 47% have received mental health services in their lifetimes.2

Alcohol-Involved Serious Collisions per 100,000 Residents

San Bernardino County and California, 2009-2018
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There were slightly fewer alcohol-involved accidents in San Bernardino County 2018 than the previous year:

  • Between 2017 and 2018, alcohol-involved collisions fell 1% compared to no change statewide.
  • In 2018, 11% of serious collisions involved alcohol, compared to 10% of collisions statewide.
  • Over the past 10 years, alcohol-involved collisions per capita have fluctuated, landing at 53 per 100,000 in 2018- somewhat higher than the statewide rate.
  • In 2018, alcohol-involved collisions claimed 68 lives.

Over the past 10 years, 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 2017 rate of 12.1 deaths per 100,000. Despite the rise, the county’s 2017 rate is better than the statewide rate of 12.7 per 100,000.
  • Deaths caused by chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, which are often associated with substance use disorder, have worsened, from 12.8 per 100,000 in 2008 to 15.8 per 100,000 in 2017. The county has more chronic liver disease and cirrhosis deaths than the statewide average (12.2 per 100,000 in 2017).

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

Drug- and Alcohol-related Death Rates

San Bernardino County, 2008-2017
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Note: Data reflect three-year rolling averages, where “2017” includes data from 2015, 2016 and 2017. Death rates are age-adjusted per 100,000 population.

Source: California Department of Public Health, County Health Status Profiles, 2019

1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( 2San Bernardino County CalOMS dataset