Temecula, California, is one of the larger cities in Riverside County, which is just southeast of Los Angeles County. This Southern California town is near the ocean but not on the water. The city is famous for its championship golf courses and hot air balloon rides, plus several award-winning vineyards. The population is nearly 109,000.
Temecula is also almost equidistant between the city of Los Angeles and the city of San Diego. Like other towns in Riverside County, Temecula is part of a pipeline of drug trafficking that stems from the Mexican border, as smugglers send dangerous and intoxicating drugs from Tijuana to San Diego.
Although many people in Temecula live unaware of the drug trafficking problem near them, their proximity to a flood of substances, especially methamphetamine and heroin, puts them at risk of exposure to illicit drugs. With a higher risk of exposure comes a higher risk of substance abuse and addiction. Riverside County’s local government is working hard to ensure all residents of the county, including denizens of Temecula, have help avoiding and overcoming addiction.
Riverside County is potentially one of the largest drug trafficking hubs in the entire United States. Situated close to both a land-based border with Mexico and several ports on the Pacific Ocean, Temecula and other cities in Riverside County are part of trafficking addictive substances, especially heroin and meth, into the U.S. Two routes bring dangerous, addictive drugs from the Mexican border into California and the rest of the U.S. — State Route 86, which passes near Coachella Valley, and I-15, which runs to Temecula and other cities in Riverside County.
As drug abuse in the area rises, drug-involved deaths are rising too. Between 2007 and 2013, the rate of drug-involved overdose deaths in Riverside climbed steadily, from 11.5 per every 100,000 people in 2007 to 2009, to 13.3 in 2011 to 2013. In 2017 to 2018, there were 797.4 hospitalizations of just adolescents and young adults, ages 15 to 24, for substance abuse in Riverside County, out of every 100,000 residents.
• Alcohol: Riverside County does not report a high rate of excessive drinking, which is sometimes also called problem drinking. Excessive drinking involves binge drinking (four to five servings of alcohol in two hours), heavy drinking (8 drinks per week for women or 15 drinks per week for men), drinking while pregnant, or struggling with alcohol use disorder (AUD), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
A 2015 report from Riverside County, which is home to Temecula, found that 18.3 percent of the population struggles with excessive drinking, which is on par with Los Angeles County (18.5 percent) and Orange County (17.7 percent). Although Riverside County residents do not drink more excessively than surrounding counties, they are more likely to be involved in an alcohol-related traffic fatality; 34.5 percent of driving deaths in the county involve alcohol, compared to 25.2 percent in Los Angeles County and 29.1 percent in San Diego County.
• Opioids: While California has one of the lowest rates of opioid abuse and overdose in the nation, Southern California struggles with higher rates of drug abuse than much of the rest of the state. Prescribing rates for opioid painkillers are going down in Temecula, the state of California, and the rest of the U.S. However, heroin is widely abused by residents of Riverside County, leading to several drug seizures by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). In 2013, agents with the Riverside DEA Office seized 150 pounds of heroin; in 2014, that rose to 220 pounds; and in 2015, agents seized 395 pounds of heroin.
• Methamphetamine: After drug busts led to the end of most domestic methamphetamine production in the U.S., rates of meth abuse declined until around 2012. This marked the rise of meth production in super labs in Mexico, which were able to produce a purer and cheaper version of this dangerous stimulant. DEA agents in Riverside County seized thousands of pounds of meth over three years: 1,567 pounds in 2013; 2,394 pounds in 2014; and 2,546 pounds in 2015. This was about a quarter of the methamphetamine seized by DEA agents in the rest of the U.S. in that time.
Meth abuse has been a problem in Temecula and the rest of Riverside County for years. In 2008, the drug accounted for 47 percent of all admissions to addiction treatment programs in the area.
• Marijuana: This drug is legal for recreational use in the state of California and legal for medical purposes with a card indicating medical need; however, marijuana has long been abused by people living in Temecula and across Riverside County. In 2008, well before recreational legislation passed, marijuana was cited as the main drug of abuse in 20 percent of addiction treatment admissions in the county.
• Illicit drugs: Although meth was the main drug cited as a problem by Temecula residents and others living in Riverside County entering addiction treatment, other substances were cited. Cocaine and crack cocaine were reported in 5 percent of treatment admissions, for example.
Riverside County is one of two Southern California counties selected to participate in a Medicaid expansion project to bring more addiction treatment options, especially medication-assisted treatment (MAT), to more communities in need. The California Hub & Spoke System (CA H&SS) is designed around the city of Riverside being the central “hub” of the operation, with several “spokes” branching out into nearby communities, including two locations in Temecula. H&SS participants have several options for MAT treatment.
• Buprenorphine with naloxone (Suboxone and other brand names)
In addition to greater access to MAT, the H&SS Program provides:
• Medical detox.
• Residential treatment.
• Comprehensive assessments.
• Education to ease the transition out of the program.
• Individual, group, and family counseling.
• Intensive outpatient program (IOP) for those who can safely live at home.
• Referrals to other providers and social services for ongoing treatment after completion of the rehabilitation program or if additional mental and behavioral health services are needed.
Telehealth options will also be included in the program for those living in suburban or rural areas who may be too far away from spokes. Over the two years that the H&SS program has been implemented in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, over 600 patients have been helped.
There are also other options outside of this program for those who want different choices in addiction treatment.
If you are searching for addiction treatment for yourself or a loved one, and are not interested or cannot participate in the treatment centers associated with H&SS, there are several other options available. For example, Riverside University Health System’s Behavioral Health program has several services for adults struggling with mental and behavioral health conditions, including substance abuse. This includes a location in Temecula. This behavioral health program also offers DUI program help and a prevention program.
Riverside County’s Network of Care program supports a substance abuse program in Temecula that offers outpatient treatment, group counseling, and referrals for adults, adolescents, and their families who are all impacted by substance abuse. The program uses evidence-based treatment, and encourages participants to find additional mutual support groups in the community, like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA), for a complete medical and social support system.
For those seeking specific options in treatment, Psychology Today has a long list of all kinds of addiction treatment programs available in Temecula, California. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) also has an online treatment finder that can narrow down options according to your needs and your location.
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About Temecula. Temecula.gov.
How Riverside County Became America’s Drug Pipeline. (November 11, 2015). Desert Sun.
Riverside County Community Health Assessment. (September 2015). Strategic Health Alliance Pursuing Equity (SHAPE).
Riverside County Maternal Child and Adolescent Health Community Profile 2017-2018. (January 19, 2017). California Department of Public Health (CDPH).
Fact Sheets – Alcohol Use and Your Health. (January 3, 2018). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Indicators of Alcohol and Other Drug Risk and Consequences for California Counties: Riverside County, 2010. (2010). Center for Applied Research Solutions (CARS).
Hub & Spoke System Grantee Profile: Riverside Treatment Center. Inland Empire Comprehensive Treatment Centers.
Adult Services. Riverside University Health System, Behavioral Health.
Substance Use Programs. Riverside University Health System, Behavioral Health.
Riverside County Substance Use Program: Temecula. (August 4, 2017). Network of Care, Riverside County.
Treatment Centers in Temecula, CA. Psychology Today.
Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).