Wednesday, February 1, 2023

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Drugs and Treatment in San Mateo, California

San Mateo, CA (population 102,893) is suburb of Silicone Valley located in the San Francisco Bay Area. The median age of San Mateo residents is 39 years old. Known to be a wealthy area, the average household income is nearly double that of the average of the state, at around $115,000. The estimated median house/condo value in San Mateo is over $1 million, compared to the $477,500 state average. San Mateo’s unemployment rate is lower than the 5.5% state average, resting at 2.9%, and the average percentage of people living at or below the poverty line is 6.9%.

If you live in San Mateo, and have fallen victim to substance abuse don’t hesitate to seek treatment. There are enormous resources in at your disposal.

The most popularly abused drugs in San Mateo are:

Risk Factors

One study stated an average of 15% of California residents were prescribed opioids in 2016, and in some counties that number reached nearly 30%. The frequency and numbers in which these prescriptions are written has largely contributed to the opioid crisis California now faces. Prescription opioids are wildly addictive and often lead to use of street opiates such as heroin, even if the prescription was initially obtained legally and for medical treatment.

A Centers for Disease control study concludes that characteristics that contributed to a higher opioid prescription rate included: “a larger percentage of non-Hispanic whites; higher rates of uninsured and Medicaid enrollment; lower educational attainment; higher rates of unemployment, [small-town] status; more dentists and physicians per capita; a higher prevalence of diagnosed diabetes, arthritis, and disability; and higher suicide rates.” San Mateo and the greater Silicone Valley are an exception to this rule, as the new money, highly educated young tech workers are relying on drugs to help them work round the clock, then come down when they need to take the edge off. 

The opioid epidemic reaches across all demographics, classes, races and sexes, but it seems to be most widely affecting young and middle-aged white people in California, and the effects are fatal. In fact, overdose related death rates among young and middle-aged white people doubled between the years 1995-2014.

Among the biggest demographic of prescription pain killer abusers are young people. In fact, Prescription opiates are second only to marijuana use in teens, and it is estimated that one in five teens has abused prescription opiates at some time. California is currently ranked 2nd in the country for highest substance abuse rates among young adults aged 12-25 and it is estimated that 5.6% of people 12 years of age and older take prescription pain relievers for non-medicinal reasons. 159 out of 100,000 people in this area visit the Emergency room annually for stimulant abuse, compared to the national average of 30 per 100,000.

Substance Abuse in the Workplace

Silicone Valley has experienced a huge tech boom in the past decade, and with it comes the dark assistance of substance abuse. While much of the substance abuse in this area is covered up or written off as “casual,” it has been suggested that there’s a larger problem at hand. Those in the fast-paced, high-stakes tech industry struggle against competitors and deadlines, and cope with the aid of everything from opiates like heroin and pain killers to stimulants like cocaine, meth and prescriptions like Adderall. It is not uncommon for an individual to take something like Adderall to stay alert and productive for longer-than-average workdays to keep up with deadlines, then take a prescription opioid to “come down” after a long day at work. The cycle starts again the next day, and over time, a tolerance builds up. The same person will need to use more or stronger substances to get the same effects, which can become an expensive habit. Substances like meth and heroin are often cheaper and can be found through street dealers, not needing a prescription to be filled. Before long, something that started as a way to build productivity and stay on top of deadlines can become a deadly addiction spiraling out of control.

Alternative Disciplinary Solutions

Since marijuana’s legalization in the state of California, San Mateo school districts have been addressing student marijuana usage in a new way. Shying away from disciplinary responses, and shifting toward educating students on substance abuse awareness. A system was implemented last fall focusing on keeping students in school, rather than suspending them for possession.

School districts aren’t the only ones finding alternative disciplinary solutions to common substance-abuse related issues. One way the Superior Court of San Mateo County addresses drug offenses is Drug Court. Drug Court offers individuals who are facing criminal charges for substance abuse and possession with the opportunity to enter into a substance abuse recovery program rather than facing jail time. While this option is not offered to every defendant, it does provide qualifying individuals with rehabilitation tools which could give them a better chance at a new life.

Drug court requirements are very strict, including mandatory frequent drug testing and therapy and/or 12-step meetings. The individual will also be expected to appear in court regularly, as well as complying with all other rules and laws. Once the defendant successfully completes the drug court program as set by the judge, the charges may be dropped or a lesser penalty may be imposed.

Of course, if you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, the best option is to seek help before need to appear in court arises. Give us a call to find a treatment facility to get started on the road to recovery today.

Can I avoid jail time if I go to rehab?

The Addiction Treatment Process

There are various steps involved in addiction treatment and recovery. Having knowledge of them can help just about anyone understand how treatment is done. Here is a list of FAQ about rehab to look over. 

No matter the substance or substances being used, it is possible to have a happy, healthy life after addiction. The road to recovery can be long and takes many forms, but there are certain steps you can count on in the process.


The first step of any substance abuse or addiction treatment program is assessing the individuals relationship to the substance(s) to determine whether addiction is present, and to what degree. Substance abuse assessments can either be done at a facility, over the phone, or online at the individuals discretion. Substance abuse assessments are used to better understand the individuals relationship to the substance in order to determine whether or not an individual is partially or fully addicted to one or more substances. Questions may include those relating to the length and frequency of use, risky behaviors you may have engaged in, your physical and mental health history, any legal trouble you may have run into due to substance abuse, and how your family, employment and relationships have been effected. While it may be uncomfortable to answer these personal questions, remember that these professionals are here to help you, and it’s important to answer them honestly for the best results.


After the assessment, the treatment professional or team of professionals can more accurately advise on the most appropriate treatment method for the individual. The questions asked during assessment help them know the addiction treatment required and whether you have any co-occurring disorders that resulted from or contribute to the addiction. Co-occurring disorders can include mental illness such as anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, manic-depression/bi-polar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, etc.

During pre-intake you should ask any questions you may have about the facility, the care and treatment you’ll be receiving, what will be required of you, the length and duration of your stay, treatment costs and insurance coverage, and what you can bring when you are admitted. Many treatment facilities place limitations on how and when you can see family and friends, as well as whether or not you can leave the facility. You may also need to make travel arrangements to get to the facility prior to admittance.


During the intake process, you will meet with healthcare professionals such as a doctor, psychologist or psychiatrist, and/or a counselor or therapist. This will give intake professionals a chance to more closely examine if and how substance abuse has affected your physical health. A mental health screening may also be performed at this time, in order to diagnose or review any co-occurring disorders that may contribute to the addiction. During the intake process that you’ll be officially admitted to the substance abuse treatment program. At this time, ask any remaining clarifying questions you may have about the treatment facility, your addiction, and what will be expected of you during your enrollment.


Detoxification is the first major step in recovery. This is the process of cleansing the body of all illicit substances, and becoming sober. Your treatment plan may involve detoxing in a detox facility, a hospital, or a home detox. Every substance and every person is different, but it can be a good idea to detox under the supervision and care of medical or detox professionals. Most addicts experience withdrawal symptoms during detox that are moderate to severe, depending on frequency and length of use, as well as the substance(s) abused. Withdrawal occurs when the drug or drugs are leaving the system, and the body starts craving more. Experiencing withdrawal is often what leads addicts to relapse and begin using again, so it is recommended to start a treatment immediately after or during detox, before the opportunity to use again presents itself. While detox is different for every person and every substance, there are certain symptoms that are commonly experienced.

What is withdrawal? How long does it last?


Opiate withdrawal typically begins between 8-12 hours of last use, and can last up to 10 days. Some common signs and symptoms of opiate withdrawal include:

  • Sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Sore muscles
  • Cold-like symptoms
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Shakes
  • Chills
  • Depression

Medications such as Subuxone or methadone may be prescribed to help alleviate opioid withdrawal symptoms while under the care of professionals.


Stimulant withdrawal may vary depending on the stimulants used, but generally speaking, the individual may experience:

  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Exhaustion
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Suicidal Ideation
  • Fatigue
  • Insatiable hunger


There are two main forms of treatment: Inpatient and Outpatient. Inpatient treatments are more intensive forms of care, supplying patients with round-the-clock care in either a hospital or treatment facility. Some inpatient treatment programs are luxury facilities that operate more like a spa or resort. Whatever form of treatment you settle on will likely involve several hours of group and/or individual therapy, and may include physical exercise and spiritual programs as well. Many treatments focus on dual-diagnosis or co-occurring disorders to get to the root of addiction and provide you with tools to cope after treatment. 


Residential Treatment Centers, or RTC’s are the most intensive form of Inpatient treatment, and are often recommended for those addicted to opiates such as heroin or other addictive drugs like meth or crack cocaine. RTC’s are most successful in detoxing and rehabilitating those with substance addictions. Residential Treatment Centers are live-in facilities which provide safe, supportive, drug-free living environments, away from work, family, and friends, allowing the patient to focus solely on their recovery.

While enrolled in an RTC, the patient may be expected to take part in group and individual therapy, including 12 step programs. There may also be specialized therapy for co-occurring illnesses, family or relationship counseling, psychiatric visits, spiritual sessions such as prayer or meditation practices, and physical exercise. The duration of RTC’s vary from 30 days to 12 months, depending on a myriad of factors including insurance coverage and patient needs. Contact with the outside world is usually limited to ensure immersion in recovery and the removal of temptation and stress that often leads to relapse.


Partial Hospitalization Programs are similar to RTC’s, although the patient has the ability to return home in the evenings. Most PHPs involve individual and group therapy, as well as 12-step meetings for 6-8 hours per day, 5 days a week until the program is completed. These programs are a good option for those with safe, supportive home environments, or those who are unable to attend inpatient programs for financial or other reasons. PHP programs can also be an aftercare stepping-stone option for those who have already attended an RTC.

Should I choose inpatient or outpatient?


Outpatient treatment options vary from facility to facility, but often offer more freedom than inpatient treatments. These treatment options can be less successful at maintaining recovery, and see a higher relapse rate. Outpatient treatment programs can be a good option for those who are fully committed to kicking addiction once and for all, or who have previously attended inpatient treatments and seek continued help. They are also a great option for those who cannot step away from their daily life for an extended period of time, but still need help kicking addiction. Many outpatient programs offer the ability to continue one’s day-to-day life with minimal adjustments, involving a few hours of individual or group therapy per week. Those who participate in outpatient treatments must have a strong will and be disciplined to change their addictive behaviors. Outpatient programs can also be an option for those seeking additional therapy after completing an inpatient program.



Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOPs) offer the structured support of inpatient therapy, with the independence of an outpatient program. Typical outpatient programs consist of 10-12 hours of group and individual therapy per week, allowing the individual to continue their daily obligations with minimal interruption, attending school or work during the day and seeking counseling in the mornings or at night as is appropriate. IOP programs work best when the patient has already attended a detox facility, and are a good aftercare option for those who have already attended a more intensive form of inpatient therapy.


Just as Detoxing is one (big) step in a long journey of recovery, so is treatment. Recovery is a life-long process, but the sooner you get started, the sooner you can start reaping the benefits of a clean, healthy, sober life.

Once you complete treatment, whether inpatient, outpatient, or both, the next big step is to draft and implement an aftercare plan. Most treatments will offer assistance in coming up with an aftercare plan, and may even help you put it into action. The role of aftercare is to ensure successful integration back into daily life, which can feel intimidating and triggering to those new to recovery. With a successful aftercare plan in place, you will be able to implement and build onto the tools of recovery you learned in treatment. It also ensures added accountability and support to prevent relapse.

Aftercare may involve continued individual, group, family and/or couples therapy, medication, and 12-step meetings and sponsorship, among other things. Just as no treatment is a one-size-fits-all solution, the same is true for aftercare programs. Each one should be tailored to the needs of the individual, and as such may range from a few weeks to a life-long plan.

What happens after discharge?


Admittance to a sober living home may also be a part of your Aftercare plan. Sober living homes or “halfway houses” are highly structured sober environments in which all members of the community are recovering addicts. The purpose of sober living homes  is A) to live in an environment free of the temptation of relapse, and B) to live with others with similar experiences, that support each other and hold one another other accountable. Many sober living homes are staffed by treatment professionals and have rules that all members of the house must live by. These rules may include:

  • Zero tolerance policies for drugs/alcohol abuse
  • No overnight guests, including family
  • Random drug testing
  • Commitment to chores
  • Members must contribute to the community/household
  • Enforced Curfews
  • “Buddy Systems,” where members must take another member with them when leaving the premises.

Many residents find that living in sober environments is helpful to their recovery if all members follow the rules put in place. It is beneficial for recovering addicts to live among fellow recovering addicts, as they are able to relate to the struggles and successes of addiction and sobriety. In this type of sober environment, they can learn to manage real-world triggers and temptations, while having a built-in support system at home. Many sober living environments encourage 12-step program attendance as well as other aftercare steps.

If you or a loved one struggles with substance abuse or addiction, now is the time to turn it all around. Give us a call today to kick it once and for all, and start leading the life you deserve.