Over the past decade, Ventura County has seen a proliferation of overdoses related to both prescription and illicit opioids. This trend can be traced to powerful and dangerously addictive opiate-based pharmaceutical pain relievers that are increasingly used in the treatment of chronic and acute pain, as well as an increase in the availability of illicit opiate-based narcotics in our communities. In some cases, irresponsible over-prescribing of pharmaceutical opiates has led to opioid addictions. Sadly, in most cases, addicts turn to illicit drugs, such as heroin and fentanyl, to satisfy their addiction.
Drug addiction is a community problem that transcends social and economic lines. The solution requires a community-based approach that involves mental health, justice, and social partners. We must continue to employ adaptive tactics to disrupt the supply chain of illicit drugs in our communities, but we must also heavily invest in prevention methods with community partners, such as school districts and behavioral health organizations, to curb the demand for illicit drugs. Only through a collaborative, comprehensive, and coordinated approach will we be able to dramatically reduce the grip of drug abuse in our neighborhoods.