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La Mesa- Local Treatment Guide and Statistics

The city of La Mesa is located just east of San Diego in Southern California, within San Diego County. Drug abuse treatment in California is managed through a local County Mental Health Department, which in the case of San Diego County is the Behavioral Health Services (BHS) Division of the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA). BHS hosts a comprehensive network of care that oversees 11 county-operated providers, around 300 community partners, and more than 800 fee-for-service drug abuse treatment providers. There are numerous options for drug abuse treatment services in the city of La Mesa and the surrounding area.

The San Diego County Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force publishes data on drug use, abuse, and addiction treatment statistics, and their 2016 report indicates that there were more than 15,000 residents of San Diego County admitted to a drug abuse treatment program in 2015. The top drugs cited as the main drug of abuse upon admission were methamphetamine (close to 30 percent), heroin (nearly 30 percent), alcohol (around 20 percent), marijuana (close to 15 percent), prescription opioids (around 5 percent), and cocaine (less than 5 percent). Treatment for drug abuse in La Mesa is offered by community-based providers.

palm trees from below

Finding Local Help in La Mesa

There are two main forms of drug abuse treatment providers in and around La Mesa: public providers and fee-for-service, or private, providers. Public treatment services are often funded through the state or county, and they are open to residents who may not be able to afford treatment or who don’t have insurance coverage for treatment.

Beneficiaries of California's Medicaid program, Medi-Cal, are able to seek public drug abuse treatment services. These programs are often open on a first-come, first-served basis to eligible residents based on specific factors such as immediate need and financial status. Private programs often offer immediate availability, and many accept insurance coverage and will help families with workable payment plans.

To find drug abuse treatment services nationwide, individuals can use the Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator that is hosted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). This locator tool allows people to select their location via zip code and then specify the type of services they are searching for in order to find local options, including those in La Mesa. There are also many governmental, community, and nonprofit agencies in California and San Diego County that serve the residents of La Mesa.

support group in a circle

Governmental agencies, community-based providers, and services

Access and Crisis Line: instant access to information on where and how to get help
Live Well San Diego: an initiative promoting a healthy San Diego County
San Diego County Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force: hosts treatment information and drug abuse prevention programs for youth while enhancing safe prescription drug practices
HHSA Service Directory: information on providers included in the BHS Network of Care
It's Up to Us San Diego (Up2SD): provides mental health resources while working to minimize stigma associated with mental health and substance abuse
San Diego County Meth Strike Force: provides local treatment and resources on help for meth abuse and addiction
Adult/Older Adult Mental Health Outpatient Clinics: treatment provider information for beneficiaries of Medi-Cal and low-income California residents
Fee-for-Service Provider Directory: information on private drug abuse treatment providers
Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) Patient Referral Directory: resources on where and how to obtain MAT services for opioid addiction

support group helping each other

Nonprofit organizations

SAY (Social Advocates for Youth) San Diego: aimed at local youth with the goal of minimizing adolescent drug use through resources and prevention programs
211 San Diego: crisis hotline providing instant access to resources and referral information
San Diego Crystal Meth Anonymous (SD CMA): local chapter offering meetings and peer support through a 12-step self-help recovery program
SMART (Self Management and Recovery Training) Recovery San Diego: promotes self-sustained recovery through local meetings and peer support
San Diego Imperial Counties Region of Narcotics Anonymous (NA): supporting recovery through a spirituality-based peer support group
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) San Diego County: hosts local meetings and peer support opportunities

Common Drugs of Abuse in La Mesa

The community of La Mesa is close to the Southwest Border (SWB), and drugs often make their way up into California across the SWB from Mexico. The San Diego Union-Tribune publishes that methamphetamine (meth) is a major drug threat in Southern California, as deaths related to meth have gone up in recent years. The potent stimulant drug is being manufactured in Mexico and crossing the border into California for distribution, increasing availability and use of the drug in the area. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) reports that in 2015, nearly 70 percent of the meth that was seized by law enforcement in the United States was in California, and the San Diego DEA field office reports that meth availability in the region is high.
Another big drug threat in La Mesa and San Diego County is opioid drugs. In Southern California, black tar heroin is more common than the white powder form that dominates the market on the East Coast. In addition, designer drugs like China White are an issue, and they often contain the highly potent and dangerous synthetic drug fentanyl or carfentanil. The Los Angeles Times warns that these powerful synthetics, which are often 50 to 100 times more potent than other opioids, are increasing opioid overdose rates in San Diego County, and they are regularly found in meth, cocaine, heroin, and ketamine.

The California Opioid Overdose Surveillance Dashboard indicates that in San Diego County in 2017, there were 285 opioid overdose deaths and 436 emergency department (ED) visits for an opioid overdose (excluding heroin). The Statewide Opioid Safety (SOS) Workgroup publishes that even though California's statewide average of opioid overdose fatalities is below national averages, several urban counties, including San Diego County, have opioid overdose death rates higher than state averages.

pills on table

Combating Local Drug Use

Drug abuse prevention efforts include campaigns and educational programs to improve local communities by minimizing the initiation of drug abuse, warning the public of the hazards of drug abuse, and decreasing youth drug and alcohol use. In La Mesa and San Diego County, there are several local efforts aimed at youth drug abuse prevention, such as the Alcohol Policy Panel of San Diego and the Marijuana Prevention Initiative San Diego County. Both of these target adolescents and aim to limit underage drinking and youth marijuana use in the region. The San Diego County Friday Night Live program promotes leadership opportunities for local students while enhancing a drug-free atmosphere and strong community.

Statewide, the California Department of Public Health's (CDPH) SOS Workgroup was initiated to improve opioid prescription practices, enhance safe medication disposal, educate the public and providers on safe opioid medication dispensing and storage as well as pain management options, improve access to medically assisted treatment (MAT), and minimize heroin use in the state. Programs such as the California Hub & Spoke System (CA H&SS) strive to make local treatment services more readily available and accessible to more people throughout California.
The CURES 2.0 (Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System) is California's prescription drug monitoring program, which is a statewide database used by medical providers to track the dispensing of controlled substances such as opioid painkillers. In this way, these medications and prescribing patterns can be closely monitored to minimize misuse and diversion. The San Diego County Sheriff's Department also has several prescription drug drop boxes where residents can drop off unused prescription medications with no questions.

The state of California also has several measures in place in an attempt to reduce the number of opioid overdose fatalities, including the Good Samaritan law that protects residents from criminal liability when attempting to save a life related to an opioid overdose. California also has a standing order in place to improve access to the potentially lifesaving opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone.

Both state and local drug abuse prevention efforts aim to enhance wellness in La Mesa and the surrounding community with county-based programs that support residents in treatment and recovery.


Mental Health Services - Individuals. (2018). California Department of Health Care Services.
Behavioral Health Services (BHS). San Diego County Health & Human Services Agency.
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Live Well San Diego. (2018). Live Well San Diego.
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Getting Help. (2018). San Diego County Methamphetamine Strike Force.
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A Dangerous Opioid is Killing People in California. It's Starting to Show Up in Cocaine and Meth. (May 2018). Los Angeles Times.
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Prescription Drug Drop Boxes. (2018). San Diego County Sheriff's Department.
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