Los Angeles County is one of the most densely populated areas of California, with more than 10 million residents. Citizens of Burbank, Glendale and the communities in the San Fernando Valley must contend with the usual struggles of living in a major metropolitan area, including the devastating effects of alcohol abuse. According to California alcohol statistics, things might not be going so well.
Alcohol abuse takes a heavy economic toll on the region and presents a major health crisis for Central California. California alcohol statistics indicate that LAC has some of the highest rates of alcohol abuse and alcohol abuse-related problems in the state.
Central California Alcohol Statistics and Drawbacks
From Santa Clarita to Van Nuys and Sherman Oaks, alcohol abuse takes a heavy toll. Los Angeles County statistics indicate that alcohol abuse has a significant economic cost for the area’s taxpayers, while also endangering public health in several ways.
A 2016 report of Los Angeles County alcohol statistics notes that the higher the alcohol outlet density in an area, the higher the consequences for residents, such as increased:
- Violent crime
- Emergency room visits
- Motor vehicle accidents
There were more than 15,000 alcohol places that sold in Los Angeles County in 2013, and approximately 4,000 alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents (246 of them fatal), more than 63,000 emergency room visits, and 2,800 deaths attributable to alcohol.
Note that alcohol abuse can lead to fatal liver disease, neurological impairment, cardiovascular disease, long-term disability and death. Alcohol abuse can also contribute to the death toll by enabling dangerous or destructive behaviors, such as suicide, alcohol poisoning, DUI-related fatal accidents and high-risk sex.
Alcohol-Related Car Accidents
According to data from a 2010 Los Angeles County Public Health Department report, there are roughly 200,000 DUI-related arrests in California in a given year. More than 40,000 of these arrests occur within Los Angeles County alone. In just a single year, there were more than 250 fatalities and more than 4,800 injuries in alcohol-related car accidents.
Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that causes several biological effects that impair driving, such as:
- Slowed reaction time
- Poor judgment
- Decreased ability to judge speed and distance
Economic Costs of Alcohol Abuse
The average cost of alcohol abuse in LA County is almost $11 billion per yearTweet this out
Of this $11 billion, about $2 billion goes toward the costs of alcohol abuse-related crimes, and another $2 billion pays for traffic offenses and related expenses.
Underage Drinking in Los Angeles County
Another serious issue related to alcohol abuse in the county is the prevalence of underage drinking. Throughout the country, alcohol is the most widely abused substance by teenagers, and Los Angeles County has some areas reporting more than 20 establishments per 100,000 residents where adults can purchase alcohol.
It’s relatively easy for underage teens to secure alcohol, and alcohol consumption at an early age can lead to significant complications later. Teens who experiment with alcohol are more likely to try harder substances such as crystal meth, cocaine and heroin. They are also more likely to suffer injuries or death from alcohol-related car crashes. Teens who drink alcohol are liable to develop alcohol use disorder if the problem goes unaddressed for too long.
A December 2017 story in the Los Angeles Times reported that about 33 percent of high school seniors had drunk alcohol within the past 30 days; the sophomore rate was 19.7 percent, and 8 percent for eighth graders).
In a survey asking students how they obtain alcohol, the most common response is securing it from a home or private residence. Some teens asked adults to purchase alcohol for them, while others manage to purchase it from liquor stores and restaurants.
Why Alcohol Abuse Is So Dangerous
One of the most dangerous aspects of alcohol is the public’s perception of it. Since so many people think it is safe in moderation, more people experiment with it and consume it in socially acceptable ways. Over time, it’s easy for a person to fall into the trap of high-functioning alcoholism by allowing consumption to play a regular part in everyday life.
Alcohol’s Unique Risk Factors
Like most other addictive substances, alcohol fosters a tolerance within those who consume it regularly. As a person’s alcohol use disorder grows, he or she will need increasingly larger quantities of alcohol to feel the desired effects. Over time, this builds into dependency, where the person needs alcohol just to function.
Alcohol withdrawal entails some of the most unpleasant side effects of any type of substance, and withdrawal is sometimes fatal for people with severe alcohol addiction.
Alcohol Detox and Recovery
One of the most dangerous aspects of alcohol abuse recovery is the detoxification process, when a person has the last traces of alcohol flushed out of his or her system. When detox takes place in a medical setting with careful supervision, medication and nutritional support, it is a healthy way to begin alcohol recovery. However, attempting to detox alone by going cold turkey without any support is extremely dangerous, especially for people with advanced alcoholism.
Alcohol withdrawal can cause delirium tremens, or the DTs, which can cause:
- Involuntary shaking
- Periods of unconsciousness
These are medical emergencies that require immediate attention. Without assistance, alcohol withdrawal can quickly turn fatal.
Effects of Alcohol Abuse Throughout Central California
Whether you live in Redondo Beach, Encino or Tarzana, it’s imperative to acknowledge the devastating effects of alcohol abuse in Los Angeles County. About 15,000 individuals enter alcohol treatment programs in Los Angeles every year. The detox and rehab processes are vital to curb the disturbing trend of alcohol-related fatalities in Central California.