Ready To Start Your Recovery? Have Insurance?Call Now (877) 267-3646

Top 5 Most Deadly Drugs of Abuse in California: Do You Know What They Are?

You are here:
Home Addiction Top 5 Most Deadly Drugs of Abuse in California: Do You Know What They Are?

Some states in the U.S. have much higher rates of drug abuse and addictions than others.  In California, for instance, several addictive drugs are abused at extremely high rates.  Approximately 2.7 million people (8% of the population) struggle with drug abuse in California.  Here are some things you may not know about California drug abuse.

Most addictive drugs, whether legal or illicit, can be deadly when misused.  They have the potential to completely ruin a person’s life or even end it.  Many of the substances are lethal due to their potency, while others cause lifelong side effects after only one use. 

California Drug Abuse: Surprising Statistics

California Drug AbuseIf you use drugs recreationally or are struggling with addiction, you can protect yourself from harm by learning about the top 5 drugs that can be deadly when abused.  

You may be putting your life in danger if you do not fully appreciate the risks of substance abuse.  Take a serious look at these statistics about the deadly drugs of abuse in California today.  The knowledge you gain may help you avoid severe consequences.

#1.  Marijuana

Nearly 35% of Californians report using marijuana.  Although recreational marijuana use is legal in the state, the primary reason for the high rate of abuse is due to the state’s proximity to the border with Mexico, which has a history of marijuana trafficking.

Marijuana misuse can cause mild symptoms such as drowsiness, disorientation, increased heart rate, and hallucinations.  It can also impair judgment and cause memory problems and diminished cognitive functioning.  Marijuana can be laced with fentanyl which increases the risks of overdose or death.

#2.  Opioids 

About 8% of California residents abuse opioids such as Percocet, Vicodin, OxyContin, and fentanyl.  Opioids are involved in about 45% of fatal overdoses in California.

Fentanyl is an opioid analog that is at the top of the list of deadly drugs in California because it causes more than 6,000 deaths each year.  This synthetic opioid is similar to morphine, but 50 to 100 times more potent.  In California, fentanyl is involved in 51% of overdose deaths.

Street drugs such as meth, heroin, cocaine, and MDMA are often laced with fentanyl to cut costs and increase potency.  Individuals purchase these drugs unaware of the presence of fentanyl.  As a result, many of them suffer fatal overdoses.  The main cause of fentanyl overdose is respiratory depression.  

#3.  Cocaine

Among the most dangerous drugs in California, cocaine is the third most abused drug in the state.  More than 7.2% of the population uses cocaine recreationally.  Cocaine abuse accounts for 14% of treatment admissions in the state each year.  

As a stimulant, cocaine produces a rush of energy that many fast-paced Californians enjoy and rely on. The drug is highly addictive and can cause mood changes, heart problems, addiction, seizures, and overdose.  Although cocaine use in the state has declined in recent years, it still contributes to the high crime rates. 

#4.  Meth

Meth ranks among the top drugs of abuse in California.  In some areas of the state, meth outranks opioids as the cause of fatal overdoses.  In only five years, the rate of ER visits related to crystal meth rose by a whopping 600%.  

Meth can cause serious health problems such as damage to major organs and mental issues such as psychosis, paranoia, hallucinations, violent behavior, and fatal overdose.

#5.  Alcohol

Alcohol is one of the most common deadly drugs of abuse.  Depressants like alcohol slow down the central nervous system.  This effect causes impaired judgment, aggressive behavior, blackouts, and more.  More than 6.4% of California residents have alcohol use disorder (AUD).

Because alcohol is a legal substance, it is easy to obtain and is socially acceptable at many events and celebrations worldwide.  Alcohol is one of the most widely abused legal substances available today, and it is equally as deadly as illegal ones.  

California Drug Abuse: Other Dangerous Drugs to Avoid

Overall, opioid addictions in California are lower than in other states.  But, many other drugs are available statewide that can be just as addictive and dangerous.  

Drug abuse in California is dominated by several other popular, but hazardous, substances such as: 

Surprisingly, the most deadly drugs being misused today are not all illicit drugs as you would think.  Several of them are legal drugs prescribed by doctors, so they are assumed to be safe.

Ultimately, all mind-altering substances have the potential to damage a person’s health and life.  If you are using any of the above drugs, consider seeking professional treatment before severe consequences occur.

California Drug Abuse Treatment at Design for Change Recovery

Design for Change Recovery in scenic Lancaster, CA is dedicated to providing help to anyone battling addiction.  We offer a comprehensive, evidence-based program that can adapt to each client’s situation, regardless of the drug involved.  

If you want an addiction treatment program in California that provides a welcoming atmosphere, compassionate staff, and skilled professionals, reach out to us today.  Overcoming addiction is an endeavor that is best pursued in a facility that cares about your success.  At Design for Change, your comfort, safety, and recovery are our top priorities. 


  • – Overdose Deaths with Carfentanil and Other Fentanyl Analogs Detected – 10 States
  • – Trends and Statistics
Top 5 Most Deadly Drugs of Abuse in California: Do You Know What They Are?