Treatment Rates for Californians Suffering From a Substance Use Disorder

Looking at Addiction and Treatment Statistics in the State


According to the California Health Care Foundation, substance use disorders (SUDs) are common in the state. Approximately 8% of Californians meet the standards for a diagnosable substance use disorder, but very few seek treatment. Studies show that only 10% of those with a SUD ever seek or receive any treatment.

As noted in the report Substance Use in California: A Look at Addiction and Treatment, 8.5% of the state’s population age 12 and over meet the criteria for a substance use disorder. 6.4% of those individuals suffer from an alcohol use disorder, compared to 3.3% who use illicit drugs. In this study, illicit drugs included marijuana, cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants, methamphetamine, and nonmedical use of prescription drugs.

In all categories, individuals aged 18 to 25 were the most likely to have a substance use disorder. The Health Care Almanac indicated that substance use disorders among young adults in this age group were “approximately twice the overall average.” However, adults 26 and over were significantly more likely to have an alcohol use disorder compared with an illicit drug use disorder. 

Binge drinking was also more prevalent among young adults. Of those surveyed, 36% of adults aged 18 to 25 admitted to binge drinking within the past month compared to 5.1% of teens aged 12-17 and 24.2% of adults over the age of 26.

Marijuana was the most commonly used illicit drug in the 2015 to 2016 study, however since the publication of the almanac the state has legalized recreational use of the drug. The second most commonly used drug was the misuse of pain medications. 

The annual average from 2010 to 2014 of those that sought treatment for alcohol dependence or abuse in California was 7%, compared with 93% who did not receive any treatment for this disorder. For illicit drug use disorder, it is estimated that only 12% of those with a diagnosable disorder for dependence or abuse sought treatment while 88% received no professional help. 

It is imperative to seek treatment for any suspected substance use disorder. There are options for both drug and alcohol treatment that can be tailored to meet the individual needs of the patient.