A Guide to Santa Ana Drug and Alcohol Treatment

Drug overdose has become the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, responsible for more fatalities each year than motor vehicle crashes. Seven in every ten overdose-related deaths in Orange County, the home of Santa Ana, are caused by opioid drugs3. Opioids include prescription painkiller medications such as morphine, OxyContin, Vicodin or Percocet as well as illicit street drugs such as heroin.

Santa Ana Drug Overdose Statistics

A staggering 66.8% of overdose-related deaths in Orange County in 2017 involved opioid drugs4. Of those opioid-related fatalities, more than half were caused by prescription opioid painkiller medications.

A recent report released by the Orange County Health Care Agency5 revealed that the number of drug or alcohol overdose deaths across the county had increased by 82% since 2000. The statistics also showed that alcohol-related deaths increased by 76% in the same time period.

The same report also revealed that drug overdoses or alcohol poisonings resulted in more than 5,500 visits to the emergency department and caused almost 700 deaths in residents every year. The estimated cost of treatment for those accidental overdoses or poisonings each year amounted to around $430 million.

Most Commonly Abused Substances in Santa Ana

Alcohol remains the most commonly abused substance across Santa Ana. However, marijuana is easily the most commonly abused illicit substance in the city.

Despite the alarming overdose statistics involving opioid drugs, Orange County’s third most commonly abused substance is cocaine. Prescription drugs are listed as the fourth most commonly abused substance, followed by heroin6.

What’s Causing the Substance Abuse Epidemic?

There are a number of theories for what might be behind the country’s drug abuse epidemic. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA1) cites research that suggests marijuana could lead to using other substance use.

Studies also show that the incidence of heroin use is 19 times higher in people who reported abusing prescription painkiller medications first2. The same report also indicated that more than 75% of people who entered rehab treatment for heroin addiction began by abusing prescription opioid drugs first.

As dependency on opioid deepens, it’s not uncommon for those struggling with addiction to switch to the cheaper and more readily available heroin.

Combating Drug and Alcohol Abuse in Santa Ana

Administering An Antidote

In 2017 a grant for 6,218 doses of Naloxone (Narcan) were granted to the Orange County Board of Supervisors. Narcan is known to be an opioid antidote, helping to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

The Orange County Health Improvement Plan

The Orange County Health Improvement Plan 2017-20197 also highlighted specific strategies to improve education about drug abuse and improve safe prescribing practices. The report also aims to help combat the epidemic by promoting the use of best practices for treating substance abuse and caring for substance users.

Why Seek Drug and Alcohol Treatment in Santa Ana?

If you or someone you know in Santa Ana is caught in a cycle of drug or alcohol addiction, the first step in recovery is to reach out and seek help. Drug and alcohol treatment centers can provide specialized treatment and therapy designed to improve likely outcomes during recovery.

The biggest issue many people struggling with addiction face is denial. Others shy away from professional rehab treatment, believing they can detox at home on their own. There is a persisting misconception that after a few uncomfortable days during detox they will somehow be miraculously ‘cured’ of their addiction.

In reality, addiction is a chronic disease of the brain characterized by occasional relapses. Detox is the first step on the road to recovery and serves to rid the body of the drug’s effects. On its own, detox does absolutely nothing to address the underlying psychological triggers behind addictive behaviors.

There is also the very real risk that withdrawing from some addictive substances can cause dangerous withdrawal symptoms. In some cases, symptoms of withdrawal can be potentially life threatening and may require emergency medical assistance.

In order to begin the journey to recovery from drug or alcohol addiction, it’s important to seek specialized addiction treatment. Professional addiction rehab programs use a carefully tailored combination of medications, treatments and therapies designed to help each person discover their own unique path to recovery.

Finding Drug and Alcohol Treatment in the Santa Ana Area

There are many different drug and alcohol addiction rehab treatment programs available across Santa Ana. However, not all treatment programs are the same.

Factors to Consider

It’s important to consider the type of treatment needed to suit each individual person’s needs. The actual types of therapy and treatment required will differ for each person, depending on a range of factors. These include:

  • The type of substance being taken
  • The severity of the addiction
  • The length and frequency of use
  • The dose being taken
  • Whether the person is at risk of developing dangerous withdrawal symptoms
  • Whether the person is taking more than one substance at a time (polydrug abuse)
  • Whether there is a co- occurring mental health disorder that needs to be treated simultaneously (dual diagnosis)
After these factors have been considered, the correct combination of medications, therapies and treatments are tailored for each person’s unique needs. The easiest way to determine the correct type of treatment needed is to discuss your specific needs with an addiction specialist.

Outpatient Rehabilitation

Some people believe they might prefer to be treated at an outpatient rehab facility. Intensive outpatient rehab requires the recovering person to check in for treatment or therapy sessions each day. After therapy is complete, the person can return home to independent living.

Inpatient Rehabilitation

By comparison, some people may be better suited to being admitted into a residential inpatient rehab program, where the recovering person lives at the facility for the duration of treatment. Inpatient rehab provides around-the-clock monitoring and medical supervision, which can be crucial for those at risk of developing dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

Types of Treatments

No matter whether the person requires inpatient or outpatient addiction rehab treatment, all highly structured programs offer the person in recovery the best possible chance of remaining abstinent after leaving rehab. High-quality programs integrate a range of different treatments and therapies that may include:

  • Individual counseling and cognitive behavioral therapies to begin working on the underlying psychological side of addictive behaviors.
  • Psychopharmacology to help treat any co-occurring mental health disorders that may be present.
  • Group support therapy sessions to provide peer support and motivation to remain abstinent.
  • Mindfulness meditation sessions and yoga therapy to help promote a sense of relaxation and to reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression.
  • Creative therapies to provide nonverbal forms of expression such as art, drawing, dance, writing, or journaling.
  • Equine assisted therapy or working with other animals to learn about the non-verbal cues and the empowerment the comes with caring for another.
  • Nutritional therapy to highlight the importance of good nutrition as part of the recovery process.
  • Relapse prevention planning to help each person build their own individual strategy to help reduce the risk of relapsing back into former patterns of behavior

By the time a person leaves rehab treatment, he or she should have all the skills, resources and support necessary to begin the journey to recovery from addiction with confidence. The key to a successful recovery begins with reaching out and asking for help.

Sober Activities in Santa Ana

Daytime Sober Activities

Santa Ana’s warm semi-arid climate makes it an appealing place to begin the recovery process. The relatively warm winters and hot summers make it much easier to get out and enjoy outdoor leisure and recreational activities most of the year.

Parks And Gardens

Despite being one of North America’s most densely populated cities, there are also numerous public parks and gardens to explore, featuring some lovely fountains, playgrounds and relaxing walking paths. The parks are also a refreshing place to get away from the bustle of daily life in the city, whether just to sit and enjoy some quiet reflection or join in with other recreational activities.

River Trail and Beaches

The Santa Ana River Trail runs alongside the Santa Ana River and stretches for 30 miles from the Pacific Ocean at Huntington Beach to the Orange/Riverside county line. The 12-foot wide asphalt path is ideal for cycling, jogging or enjoying a leisurely stroll along the riverside.

Huntington Beach and Newport Beach are located a short drive away from Santa Ana and offer plenty of coastal shopping, dining, and water activities, including swimming, sailing or surfing.


The downtown Santa Ana historic districts are a combination of districts distinctly characterized by its meticulously restored historic buildings. Orange County’s first Courthouse now houses a museum and the county’s first theater now stands where the county’s first movie house once stood. Two old movie houses still remain in the district.

Downtown Santa Ana is also the home of the Santa Ana Artist’s Village, which was specifically designed to attract artists to live and work in the area.

Amusement Parks

Disneyland’s famous amusement park is situated northwest of Santa Ana and the Knott’s Berry Farm amusement park is also nearby. The city is also home to the Santa Ana Zoo, which is known for housing a large assortment of monkeys as well as exhibits from Central and South America, with more than 350 different animals to see.

Higher Education

The Santa Ana College is also a part of the Rancho Santiago Community College District and provides excellent opportunities to enroll in study programs or job skills training courses.

Night-time Sober Activities

Perhaps one of the most difficult times for many people in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction is night. Throughout the day there are often plenty of interesting and time-consuming sober activities to explore.

However, at night many people in recovery find themselves at a loss for things to do. It’s at this time that the risk of relapse is increased, so it’s important to find productive sober activities you can enjoy or immerse yourself in after dark.

Sober Groups

One of the most popular – and most easily accessible – nighttime sober activity is attending a group support meeting. Santa Ana hosts numerous group support meetings at various locations around the city, including traditional 12-step groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA), as well as non-traditional support meetings such as SMART Recovery. Some support groups also offer online meetings for those who require additional support at times of the night when physical meetings aren’t available.

If you’re concerned about finding something else to do after the meeting ends, why not ask a few other attendees whether they want to go out for a coffee and a chat afterward?

Meetup groups can also be extremely helpful for providing nighttime sober activities for people in recovery. The website www.meetup.com is filled with activities, events and other interests posted by people in recovery seeking others to enjoy sobriety-related time with new friends.

History of Santa Ana

Back in 1769, the Santa Ana Valley was originally named the Vallejo de Santa Ana, although it’s more commonly known as Orange County today. The Valley was originally maintained under Spanish rule. However, it wasn’t until the Mexican-American war ended in 1848 that the state of California became a part of the United States. It was after this time that American settlers moved into the area.

In 1886 Santa Ana was incorporated as a city, although it didn’t become the seat of Orange County until 1889. In the decades that followed, Santa Ana grew to encompass several distinct districts.

Modern Day Santa Ana

The heart of the city is its downtown area, which features an eclectic combination of historic and modern buildings that host retail stores, theaters, and housing. The Historic South Main Business District still features lots of older retail stores and small businesses that are a pleasure to explore. There are also multiple major shopping districts surrounding the city, complete with malls and plazas, as well as museums, office towers, and the Santa Ana Zoo.