A Guide to Addiction and Treatment in Mission Viejo, Orange County, California 

Mission Viejo, California is a natural and cultural suburb in Orange County. The natural contours of Mission Viejo are no accident, as it’s one of the largest master-planned cities built in the US. The original master plan design laid down roads set in valleys and the homes set up on the hills, all placed to fit in with the area’s natural geography. 1 Mission Viejo has a population of about 96,000 residents, with a median age of 42. 

It takes about one hour to travel from Mission Viejo, Orange County into Mexico, and this makes the county a target for drug trafficking. The community has responded with several initiatives to battle the rising drug epidemic. 

The Impact of Addiction and the Drug Epidemic in Mission Viejo

The Orange County Health Care Agency published a report in 2017 regarding the impact the drug epidemic has had on Californians in Mission Viejo and the surrounding communities in Orange County.2 The study found that a significant number of Californians have been impacted by prescription and non-prescription opiate/opioid misuse and overdose. Orange County reported:
  • 7,457 opioid overdose/abuse cases were treated in Orange County emergency rooms in a five-year period from 2011 to 2015.
  • Opioids played a significant role in seven of every 10 overdose deaths in Orange county over this period.
  • Orange County has seen a rise in drug overdose deaths by 88 percent between 2000 and 2015.
  • Almost half of all these overdose deaths were because of accidental prescription drug overdoses.
In addition, 1,711,809 opioid prescriptions were given out to Orange County residents in 2015. The prevalence of a high number of opioids circulating in the county has highlighted the importance of focusing on prevention efforts to address the rising opioid consumption among residents. Due to the large amount of prescription opioids available in Orange County from 2005-2015, a steady increase in the number of opioid-related emergency room visits occurred. The overall rate of emergency room visits has increased by an astonishing 141 percent. Hospitalization rates due to opioid-related overdoses also increased by 9 percent over this ten-year period. The report concluded this increase is largely a result of the rise of opioid abuse or opioid dependence cases, as well as heroin use.

Orange County Addiction Demographic Profiles

People treated for opioid abuse cuts across all age groups in Orange County. Adults 18 to 34 accounted for more than half of those who were treated for opioid abuse (53 percent). Young people between the ages of 18 to 34 made up a considerable part of the county’s nearly 141 percent increase in the annual rate of opioid-related emergency room visits between 2005 and 2015, as reported by the Orange County Health Care Agency. 3

Adults 45 to 54 and 55 to 64 had the next highest rates. Teenagers (under 18 years of age) and seniors (over 65 years) had much lower rates compared to other age groups.

Importantly, the number of opioid-related emergency room visits increased for all age groups between 2011-2015. The only exception was for adolescents 10 to 17 years old. Specifically, Mission Viejo has seen a steady increase in the number of opioid-related emergency room visits from 2011 through 2015.

Mission Viejo opioid-related emergency room visits

  • 2011: 37
  • 2012: 53  
  • 2013: 59
  • 2014: 55
  • 2015: 64

Opioid overdose deaths for this same time period totaled 41 in Mission Viejo.

Drug Trafficking and Drug Related Crime in Mission Viejo 

In March 2018, 25 pounds of meth hidden inside bags of ground coffee were taken off the streets by Orange County law enforcement. 4 In July 2018, close to 90 pounds of illegal drugs that were made to look like Mexican items, including replicas of Aztec stone calendars, were intercepted by Orange County police.

The War on Drugs and Anti-addiction Efforts in Mission Viejo and Orange County 

Mission Viejo Drug Prevention Coalition

In 2017, Mission Viejo formed the Drug Prevention Coalition. 5 The coalition’s goals are to educate the public about current drug trends and the challenges faced by residents in preventing the spread of drug addiction and dependency. 

Drug awareness programs and campaigns are handled by the coalition such as:

  • Annual Walk Against Drugs
  • Resource Fair
  • Monitor Secure and Destroy Campaign (proper disposal of prescription drugs)
  • Parental education on addiction behaviors and the signs of drug addiction
  • Narcan use, a lifesaving antidote for overdoses

DULA: Drug Use is Life Abuse

The Orange County Sheriff’s Advisory Council developed the Drug Use is Life Abuse (DULA) organization that was created to combat rising drug abuse.6 DULA’s main focus is to gather leaders in business, education, government, religion, law enforcement and families to work as a team towards changing how society identifies and addresses drug use.

Cal State Fullerton Substance Abuse Initiative

In 2016, Cal State Fullerton was endowed a three-year grant to lend a hand to Orange County residents battling substance abuse. This grant provides funding for education about substance abuse in social work, nursing and human services classes. The goal is to educate and train 650 students and 75 health care professionals on how to get involved when substance abuse is suspected. Professionals who have completed the CSU Fullerton training can detect substance abuse disorders sooner to ensure more people receive the appropriate intervention and treatment needed.

National Take Back Day 

The City of Mission Viejo and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department regularly holds National Take Back Day campaigns as part of the effort to prevent drug abuse and theft. 8 The residents of Mission Viejo participate in these take-back events to help stem the tide of prescription drug abuse and theft. Residents are able to safely clear their homes of potentially dangerous unused, expired or unwanted prescription medications. During a recent take-back event, the City of Mission Viejo secured more than 330 pounds of unused medications from the public.

SFOC: Solace Foundation of Orange County 

The non-profit organization called Solace Foundation of Orange County provides the community members with Overdose Recognition & Response Training. SFOC also supplies naloxone, an overdose reversal antidote that saves lives. 7 Naloxone distribution and use are the first lines of defense in preventing opioid-related overdose deaths in Orange County.  

Where You Can Find Help in Mission Viejo 

Resolutions Behavioral Health is a comprehensive detoxification facility located in Mission Viejo, California that focuses on people who are struggling with drug or alcohol addiction and prescription pain medication dependence. A medically managed detox conducted by their professional staff helps reduce any discomfort or pain while withdrawing from drugs or alcohol.

In addition to detoxification services, the licensed therapists at Resolutions Behavioral Health help you identify and work through past traumas and unhealthy behaviors to build back your self-esteem and confidence. It’s the goal of the compassionate and caring staff to help you gain the necessary life skills needed to become a renewed individual equipped with the knowledge that puts you onto a healthy new path of sobriety and wellness.

If you or a loved one needs help, Resolutions Behavioral Health is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer any questions you might have. Take the first step in recovery by calling 949-217-9498 any time of the day or night.