Wednesday, February 1, 2023

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Thousand Oaks, California, may not have the nation’s largest drug problem, or even the state’s; however, ignoring the issues that do exist poses a grave threat all its own.

The city has its share of drug-related arrests yearly. Pot and alcohol are frequently abused, while prescription opiates (painkillers) continues an upward climb in terms of treatment center admissions. Heroin and meth use in Thousand Oaks have declined since their height in 2015.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has a substantial presence in the city, as they do in the rest of the HIDTA state, and they are supportive of all efforts to curb the city’s drug problems. Education is key, and the upscale status of the city adds to the efficacy of this effort.

Consistent with present statewide (and national) trends, the abuse of prescription opioids is not only a problem for those who use, but also with the children of those who use who steal the medication to sell on the street, or otherwise trade for pot or alcohol – preferred substances for their own personal usage. 

If you live in Thousand Oaks or the surrounding county, and have fallen victim to substance abuse don’t hesitate to seek treatment. There are enormous resources in at your disposal.

Based in part on recent statistics and studies, our outlook for Thousand Oaks is this:

  • Drug traffickers will continue to pivot and take advantage of the opioid epidemic;
  • Opioid abuse will increase pending still-further efforts;
  • Pot and Alcohol use will remain consistent, especially popular among young people;
  • Cocaine will remain readily-accessible, though it will also remain flat in terms of growth;;
  • Treatment center admissions for painkiller abuse will continue to increase, until federal funding reaches a point to where this particular ongoing issue is more effectively contained.

For yourself, your friends and/or your family, we advise that you continue to be aware of your community’s substance issues, and suggest that you join in Thousand Oaks’ various educational efforts to curb drug abuse. Regularly check The Recover for updated information.

Awareness and communication, as ever, is imperative to any such efforts.

California is the most highly-populated of all U.S. states, with an estimated residency of just under 40 million. Of that number, nearly four million are estimated to be addicted to street or prescription drugs. Among the state’s most used addictive substances, as measured by treatment center admissions (inclusive of hospitals) and arrests, are heroin, prescription painkillers, methamphetaminemarijuana and alcohol. In 2017, fatalities from substance abuse exceeded 15 per day. That statistic is presently considered the #1 cause for premature deaths in the state, surpassing car accidents, firearm accidents, homicides and suicides.

Of particular note is 35% of car accidents were said to be drug-related.

Further state-wide statistics include the following: Up to 45,000 California emergency room visits each year are due to drug overdoses, or injuries related to abuse. Heroin, once more of an urban drug issue, has expanded to the state’s suburbs. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), between 2002 and 2017, heroin use statewide increased 67%. In various cities, heroin usage has decreased from 2015-2017, which some are saying may foreshadow the beginning of a trend.

As with so much of the rest of the country, California’s fastest-growing issue is that of prescription opioids, or painkillers. In 2017, deaths from opiate overdoses exceeded 50,000 nationally, with California as among the very top states so effected. Similarly, methamphetamine abuse has reached epidemic proportions, while pot and alcohol use exceeds the national average by nearly 10%.

California has been labeled by the DOJ (Department of Justice) as a HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area) stronghold. The major reason is its proximity to Mexico, as Mexican DTOs (Drug Trafficking Organizations) are prevalent throughout the state, which remains their primary source of business.

Predictably, considering the state and the myriad of its interconnected freeways, Thousand Oaks, California faces its share of drug issues. Thousand Oaks is the second-largest city in Ventura County, and is located in the northwestern area of Greater Los Angeles, about 35 miles from Downtown, L.A. The city was incorporated in 1964. It is the core of the Conejo Valley and has a total area of 55.33 square miles, of which .15% is water. It’s estimated population is just above 129,000.

Ancestry for the city, as based on Census figures, is remarkably diverse: 15.8% German American, 12.9% Mexican American, 11.7% English American, 10.7% Irish American, 7.2% Italian American, 3.4% Russian American, 3.3% Chinese American, 3.2% French American, 3.2% Polish American, 2.7% Scottish American, 2.7% Indian American, 2.2% Norwegian American, 2% Swedish American, 1.5% Dutch American, 1.3% African American, with “Other” listed as 18.9%. 80.3% of its residents are Caucasian.

The city is upscale, and its residents highly-educated. Median household income is $121,088, among the wealthiest in the country. The local economy is driven by biotechnology, automative, aerospace, healthcare, financing, telecommunications and electronics industries. Arts and cultural centers are plentiful.

According to a 2013 FBI report, Thousand Oaks was one of the safest cities in America. It still is, in many ways. In 2015, violent crime was only 1.05 per 1000 residents, and petty theft was the most reported crime category.

However, as its parent state is a HIDTA stronghold, Thousand Oaks’ drug problems are notable, though not as substantial on a percentage basis as many California cities. Still, such issues       cannot – and must not – be ignored.


Let’s first take a look at some recent (2017-2018) headlines: Three Arrested After DUI Operation in Thousand Oaks; Ventura County Task Force Arrests 30 in Two-Month Heroin Delivery Service Bust; Thousand Oaks Man Arrested in Heroin Overdose; Narcotics Drug Dealer Arrested in Thousand Oaks; East County Heroin Pipeline Plugged; Thousand Oaks Doctor Arrested for Allegedly Selling Prescription Drugs; Thousand Oaks Search Warrant Yields 30 Pounds of Pot, Two Arrests; Two DUI Arrests Made in Thousand Oaks Checkpoints, and Arrest Made in Connection to Overdose Death of Thousand Oaks Teen.

The headlines imply some of the city’s ongoing issues. Though heroin has decreased as a cause of treatment center admissions year-to-year since 2015, it remains an ongoing issue. Misuse of prescription opiates mirrors the rest of the country in terms of growth. Pot and alcohol are popular and consistent year-to-year, and in-line with the national average. Meth use is not as large an issue in Thousand Oaks as it is with the rest of the state, but again, it is still a problem.

Cocaine abuse has slightly lessened year-to-year statewide from 2015, though such abuse has slightly heightened in Los Angeles proper. In Thousand Oaks, the decrease has been more notable year-to-year.

Prescription opiates, pot and alcohol, collectively, are responsible for approximately 70% of the city’s treatment center admissions. Cocaine and meth, and to a considerably lesser extent party drugs such as Ecstasy, round the remaining 30%.

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.


Help is but a phone call away, and treatment centers are located throughout the city and surrounding areas.  As ever, when you contact a treatment center, please do your research first. The remainder of this article should be able to guide you in some appropriate directions.

Pre-intake is the process whereby a concerned user believes they may have a problem, and they begin the process of seeking help.

Frequently, if trust is not an issue, one will turn to a loved one – a family member or a friend – and casually inquire as to their thoughts on getting help for what may be a “problem.” If trust is an issue, however, the safety of internet research to find helpful resources is always an option.

Always remind yourself of this: Help is always out there.

If you look online, you will find several resources to guide you. We are happy you have found The Recover, as we are dedicated to your success.

As you consider your options, ask yourself the following questions: “How long have I been using?”

“Do I believe I have a problem?” “Do I think others who know me believe I have a substance-related problem?” “Does it matter to me?” “Have others confronted me with questions related to substance abuse?” “Do I use alone, or in hiding?” “Have I ever substituted one drug for another, thinking one particular drug was the problem?” “Do I find the thought of running out of drugs scary?” “Have I ever been in a jail, a hospital, or a drug rehabilitation center because of any using in the past?” “Is this what I want with my life?”

If you find your answers to the following questions alarming, we suggest that you follow up with other, more positive questions: “What are my life’s goals?” “Where do I want to be in my life one year from now?” “Where do I want to be in my life five years from now?” “Where do I want to be in my life ten years from now?”

If like many users you cannot answer such goal-related questions, try this: “Where do I want to be tomorrow?” If your answer to this question is dark, or bleak, and related to depression, it’s time to seek treatment. Similarly, if your answer is something positive, the very fact that you have come to this point and have begun researching options also means it’s time to seek treatment.

If you do, your tomorrow may be exactly what you want it to be.

A brief disclaimer: As with any other self-diagnostic tool, questions such as these are exploratory only. You must speak to a trained and licensed professional for any true diagnosis. Still, answering these questions can be extremely useful, and insightful. Remember, if you are under the influence as you answer, you may not be the best arbiter of your responses. If, however, you can be truthful with your responses, the results of your subsequent efforts can be invaluable.


Maybe you have considered getting help, but you do not believe you have the capacity to do so on your own. If you do not believe you have the strength to find help for yourself, request a trusted family member or friend to aid in your effort. Show them this page, if necessary.

Interventions are common, and most frequently staged when the user is unwilling to accept the fact that they have a problem. At other times, as alluded to above, a user may want the help of an interventionist, or a trained intervention specialist, to help them move forward in their treatment. Some general duties on the part of said interventionist(s) include:

  • Planning, preparation, and engagement of the intervention.
  • Advisement of specific and appropriate treatment and rehab programs.
  • Preparing all arrangements, including family consultation so they know what to expect.
  • Continuing to work with the family – or friends – of the addict while they are undergoing inpatient or outpatient treatment.
  • Arranging of all logistics, including payment and/or insurance requirements, and arrival.

The intervention specialist(s) also sets ground rules as to how to interact with the addict:

  • Do not get upset with your family member, or friend, during the intervention.
  • Avoid verbal labels during the intervention, such as “junkie,” “addict,” or “alcoholic.” The mindset is to not have the addict defined by their addiction.
  • When deciding who to include in the intervention – again, friends and/or family of the addict (as we will continue to say for clarity’s sake in the context of these articles) – the number of people who attend must be kept to a minimum, and managed.
  • Never perform the intervention if the addict, or another member of the group, is intoxicated.

Whatever works is really what’s most important. However an addict can get help, whether on their own or with the help of others, that’s what really matters.

Getting to pre-intake can sometimes be the toughest aspect of all.


You have looked at some potential pre-intake questions, and have finally made the decision to get help. Good job. We commend you.

Now what?

During the intake application process, you will be required to list your prescription medications and days and times taken (if “none,” you check “none”), an authorization of medical care, a list of allergies or other medical issues, and a waiver of responsibility. Some applications ask for more. A physician or treatment center representative will then review your application for the proper steps, and treatment.

One of the greatest benefits of a well-thought treatment plan is that every day will bring a new step in your treatment, and each step will lead to another. During this process, you may well learn of the stringency and urgency of structure, especially if your problem is too large for outpatient therapy, and in-patient will be your next step. The structure you learn and the discipline you will attain will help you immensely during one of the advanced stages of your formal treatment process: the sober house.

Conversely, one of the more difficult aspects of the intake process is one of trust. We all know that a user does not always trust easily. If you fall into this category, we need to reinforce to you that your treatment team is there for you. They will spend the time working with you and for you. In as much as you can, speak to them openly. If you believe a given treatment as administered by a professional is disagreeable to you, you need to make that known to them.

We’ve spoken about the power of commitment on these pages before. There will be an element in your treatment of letting go of any defiance and trusting others. Trust usually comes in time.

As we said, intake is but a step in a larger process.


Detox addresses the physical hold of an addiction. The length of a detox program will vary based on several factors, including the nature of the addiction, and of the addict’s personality. Regarding the former, chemical dependency frequently occurs that must be medically handled, as your brain has become fully dependent on further use of the substance in order to function. This is a medical issue that will frequently require medication to handle.

During the early phases on detoxification, withdrawal will occur which can be a painful process. Your system will be cleaned of the drug, and your brain will learn to operate as it once did. Certain withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening, which punctuates the importance of full and systemic treatment. 

The concept and practice of detox is typically broken down into three distinct phases: Evaluation, Stabilization, and Transition to Inpatient Drug Rehabilitation.

What is withdrawal? How long does it last?


Post-withdrawal, the process of your ongoing recovery can be either inpatient, or outpatient. Inpatient treatment is appropriate for more severe cases, and the generally more flexible outpatient treatment is geared towards those with a more moderate addiction (though addiction is still addiction) and a stronger support system in their home environment.

Inpatient treatment can either be a PHP (a partial hospitalization providing a highly-structured environment, with typically active treatment of 30 hours per week), the less-intensive IOP (intensive outpatient treatment plan, which requires up to three hours daily over 3-5 days, for a total of nine hours weekly; therapy is usually included, but the patient can live either at their own home or a halfway house during the process), or an RTC (residential).

Most inpatient therapies, regardless of option will last 5-10 days. They can last longer based on the severity of the problem, and the patient’s physical and mental fitness.

Among its services, a PHP will most frequently incorporate intensive one on one therapy in its treatment program. The reason for this is most PHP admissions are due to disturbances in behavior from the drug being abused, or for those who experience otherwise increased symptomatology. In a PHP, the patient is often isolated and of no risk to other patients. 

PHPs and RTCs are highly-structured treatment options. PHPs are the most structured options of all. If you have little structure in your home environment, both of these invaluable choices will likely take some time getting used to. That said, the importance to your overall treatment plan cannot be understated.

Note: Substance use disorder treatment is listed as one of the 10 Most Essential Health Benefits of the Affordable Care Act, meaning that your care is covered if you have health insurance. If you do not have insurance, many treatment centers offer financial aid.

Always ask when you speak to a treatment advisor if this is a concern, as inpatient treatment is more expensive than outpatient.


Outpatient treatment is often preferred when one has substantial duties in their outside environment, such as school or family. In fact, family and friend group therapy is often included in this option, which is quite flexible in its scheduling. Outpatient treatment has proven to be very effective for those with underlying causes for their addiction, such as eating disorders, to grasp the root of their substance-related issues in a more relaxed setting among familiar support systems.

As an outpatient, you are not enmeshed in a structured environment, you live at home and you are not under constant supervision.

However, outpatient treatment is no less important or helpful than inpatient treatment. Though the scheduling of your appointments may be flexible, you still need to commit to the time. If you miss one appointment, you will likely miss another. 

Ask yourself if you are responsible enough for an outpatient program. If you are, and you maintain your treatment, the rewards can be innumerable.

Both inpatient and outpatient treatment are comprehensive approaches to wellness. You will face temptations in both but as long as you remain responsible, you will also learn specific strategies as to how to deal with them. It is up to you to take advantage of those lessons.

Should I choose inpatient or outpatient?


Sober living may be the final step in your formal treatment plan before returning home, but treatment never really ends. Sober living houses provide the interim environment between rehab and mainstreaming back to your natural environment. The reason for the initial formation of sober houses was simple: a person in recovery frequently needed a safe and supportive place to stay, during the vulnerability of early recovery, prior to returning home.

Sober houses are also highly-structured, and most residents are referred to a sober living environment from a rehab center. Requirements and rules are strict, and they usually include:

  • No drugs or alcohol on the premises;
  • No violence;
  • No overnight or sleepover guests, not even family;
  • Commitment to random drug testing;
  • Involvement in a community-related program;
  • Acceptance by a peer group;
  • Acceptance of advice from treatment professionals;
  • Respect for the rules of the house;
  • Following all directions;
  • No swearing;
  • No stealing;
  • No sexual activity between residents;
  • Honesty;
  • As part of a recovering community, if you see or hear any resident breaking the rules of the community, they must be reported immediately to appropriate staff;
  • Anyone on prescribed medication must inform the house manager upon admittance;
  • Residents must attend all sober house meetings;
  • Residents must submit to drug and/or alcohol tests upon request;
  • Rooms must be clean at all times;
  • Chores must be completed without argument;
  • Curfew must be respected.

Many of the above rules are enforced with a Zero Tolerance Policy. Meaning, if any of these rules are broken even once, you risk being kicked out of your sober living home. If you had experienced structure during your prior treatment to this point, you should be in good shape.

What happens after discharge?