A Guide to Addiction and Recovery in Costa Mesa, California
An estimated 112,825 people live in the suburban town of Costa Mesa, California, located just 37 miles south of the bustling city of Los Angeles.
In 2017, there were 1,299 drug abuse violations reported by the Costa Mesa Police Department.1 Also listed in these crime statistics were 489 instances of driving under the influence and 319 reports of drunkenness.
Just minutes from beaches, Costa Mesa is centrally situated in sunny California’s Orange County. “City of the Arts” is the official city motto for Costa Mesa CA, an allusion to the wide array of theater, museum, visual and performing arts attractions in the area.
Costa Mesa's Beginnings
The history of Costa Mesa goes back to the 16th century and earlier, when Native American and other indigenous people lived in the Southern California region. In 1769, Junipero Serra led a Spanish expedition to the area and named it the Valley of Saint Anne (Vallejo de Santa Ana). Mission San Juan Capistrano is known as the first permanent European settlement there in 1776.
As Americans traveled west after the Mexican-American war, they settled in this area, with some founding an agricultural community called Harper, situated near Santa Ana and Newport Railroad. Harper became Costa Mesa on May 11, 1920, renamed to reference the geographical outline of the city. The Spanish words Costa Mesa translate in English to “coast table,” with the word “table” referring to the land, as the city is a plateau that sits on the coast.
Who Lives in Costa Mesa, CA?
The median age of people living in Costa Mesa CA is 35. The town is almost evenly made up of males and females (49.8% vs. 50.2%). The racial makeup of people living in Costa Mesa is 44.4% Hispanic, 44.2% White and 7.6% Asian, with the remainder consisting of two or more races, Black, Native Hawaiian and American Indian.
Cost of Living
The average household income equals about $81,000 per year. Housing values are a bit expensive, with a typical house or condo apartment costing somewhere between $849,274 and $592,209. Renters can expect to pay about $1,749 per month.
Top employers in the area are restaurants, the credit-reporting agency, Experian, Orange Coast College and the Automobile Club of Southern California. The annual Orange County Fair takes place in Costa Mesa, attracting over a million visitors. The NFL’s Los Angeles Chargers also have their training facility here.
Costa Mesa appears to be a quiet and somewhat diverse town that attracts a rather economically affluent population, but it’s important to remember that addiction is a disease, and diseases can encroach upon any demographic and reaches across all economic spectrums.
Costa Mesa and Substance Use
Alcohol, a legal substance for those over the age of 21, is commonly abused in Costa Mesa and other Orange County communities. Alcohol abuse in Orange County is most prevalent among white, 25 to 34-year-old men, who account for 49% percent of the population. Right behind that age group are the 18 to 24-year-old white males who are frequent binge drinkers.
Use of illegal drugs in Orange County is most often seen among young adults, 18-24 years old. The most commonly abused illicit drugs are:
- Hallucinogens (LSD, PCP)
- Club drugs (GHB, Ketamine, Smiles)
The most frequently abused prescription drugs include:
- Pain relievers (Oxycontin, Hydrocodone, Percocet, Vicodin)
- Tranquilizers (Xanax, Valium, Ativan)
- Stimulants (Ritalin, Adderall)
More than half of the opioid-related overdoses in Orange County were related to prescription drugs, such as Oxycontin and Hydrocodone.
Prescription Drug Abuse in Orange County
Because Costa Mesa CA and its surrounding areas are thought of as upscale suburbs for the upper middle class, drug abuse and addiction problems aren’t the first things people associate with this town. Yet prescription drug abuse and other substance use issues are one of the highest in Orange County and in the state of California.
Opioid Overdose in Costa Mesa
According to the Orange County Health Care Agency & Sheriff-Coroner’s 2017 report on opioid overdose, high Emergency Department visits were reported in Costa Mesa and its nearby coastal and southern cities.2 There was a 58% increase in the number of Emergency Department visits in Costa Mesa alone over a period of five years.
There was also a 20% increase in the number of deaths related to opioid overdoses in Costa Mesa. These rate increases apply to both men and women, though males have an overall higher rate of overdosing with opioids than females do.
In 2017, 99 people made opioid-related visits to the emergency room in Costa Mesa, the second highest average annual number of visits in Orange County for this purpose.3
Who is Struggling with Opioid Overdose?
Seventy-eight percent of those hospitalized for an opioid issue were non-Hispanic Whites, while 15% were Hispanic. Most were residents aged 18 to 24 or 25 to 34, though people over the age of 45 are also suffering from opioid overdoses at high rates in Orange County.
It’s been proposed that those living in these more affluent communities have more recreational time on their hands and easier access to prescription medications, such as opioids like Vicodin, Oxycontin and morphine.
Combating Substance Abuse and Addiction in Costa Mesa
Police and residents in Costa Mesa are fighting the war against drug and alcohol addiction in a number of ways. City police enforcement officers are fully participating in the national “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign. The goal is to help ensure suspected drunk or substance-impaired drivers are taken off the roads. Officers in Costa Mesa have been recognized by the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) for their work, wherein 222 DUI arrests occurred over the course of a year.6
Costa Mesa Sober Living Homes
Costa Mesa has regulated sober living homes through zoning laws. Residential care facilities and group homes are permitted to exist in single-family residential areas and multifamily zones. This allows for better integration in neighborhoods to build healthy habits for people in healing. There are limitations on how many group homes can be established in certain neighborhoods.
At present, there are about 160 sober-living homes and rehab facilities in Costa Mesa CA available to help serve people suffering from drug and alcohol addiction. Community-based associations to help people who are recovering from substance abuse include the Orange County Area of Narcotics Anonymous and Orange County Alcoholics Anonymous, both of which have programs and meetings in Costa Mesa and many other Orange County towns.
Consequences of Addiction in Costa Mesa
Twenty-nine percent of the total traffic deaths across the nation in one year’s time were attributed to a driver who was alcohol-impaired. In 2017, drivers under the influence of alcohol caused the death of 10,874 people in the United States.
Costa Mesa Traffic Crashes
In 2012, the Office of Traffic Safety, which classifies alcohol-related injury traffic crashes according to population categories, ranked Costa Mesa fourth out of the 53 cities listed. In Costa Mesa CA, a 24-year-old driver was recently arrested on DUI charges due to her involvement in a fatal three-car crash shortly after midnight.
Addiction’s Impact on Housing
Substance addiction in Costa Mesa has also been partially responsible for a large increase in the number of people forced to live on the street, camp out in parks or stay in shelters. Increases in crime and drug use, especially around city parks, have made the local government look into providing further resources and help for people struggling with homelessness.
Drug-Related Crime in Costa Mesa
Costa Mesa police department records for 2018 show 1,327 violations related to drug abuse over eight months’ time.4 This rate is already higher than statistics for the 12-month period of the previous year.
Crime in general has been on the rise in the area over the past few years. Probation officers and parole agents have reported that drug dealers often openly conduct their illegal business at shopping centers.5 Cheap motels in some neighborhoods have attracted drug dealers and crime, particularly along Harbor and Newport boulevards.
Finding Help For Addiction in Costa Mesa
Rehab facilities and programs in Costa Mesa are available to help people suffering from substance addiction overcome this crippling disease. Residential treatment centers exist that offer detoxification from drugs followed by a variety of therapies to help understand addiction and learn ways to successfully enjoy a sober lifestyle.
There are also intensive outpatient programs that utilize therapeutic counseling services on an individual and group basis.
Safe Harbor Treatment Center in Costa Mesa CA has been dedicated for 25 years to helping women transform their lives from one of addiction to a life of sustained sobriety. Therapists work in conjunction with a 12-Step philosophical program to guide clients toward recovery and a healthy future lifestyle.