Drug Use in the Inland Empire

By Shamce Ahmad |Staff Writer|

The use of illegal substances and drugs in the nation has risen as a whole over the past few years, and the Inland Empire has seen its fair share of the rise in these rates as well.

Street drugs, such as marijuana, have seen their levels of use rise steadily, while the takeoff of pharmaceutical drugs has sparked a new epidemic in the southern California region.

These pharmaceutical drugs often take the form of painkillers and relaxants, such as Xanax and Valium. Opioids have also caused civilians to struggle with addiction in the form of illegally distributed fentanyl, a potent, yet volatile drug.

And then there is the party scene and concert festival life, where illegal substances of all sorts float around the grounds in the form of cocaine, ecstasy, molly and more.

The drug world has expanded to new heights in light of the lengths that people will go to, to reach their highs.

At the base level, marijuana levels have consistently risen over the last 10 years, going from a 21 percent use level in adults who live in California in 2006, to 31 percent in 2016.

Users credit this to the growing perception that the use of weed is not harmful to the body, among other things.

“I think people have hit that point where they kind of are just whatever about it,” said an anonymous respondent “J,” in an interview. “Most people who have softened up on their stances usually realize that it isn’t bad for you really,” they added.

Another major factor in the rise of marijuana use is the recent passing of California proposition 64, which legalized the recreational use of marijuana in private establishments.

While the sale and regulation of weed has not been established yet, the simple fact that the state is making a move toward it has inspired opposers of the drug to relax on their stances.

Pharmaceutical drugs have been illegally distributed for decades, but have recently risen to almost a status as a norm for many.

Many credit a hardening lifestyle and daily stresses as their reasons to use the pills to “decompress,” in a way.

“I have not seen the use of these pills at a higher level in my lifetime,” said an anonymous respondent “W.” “Luckily for me I am able to obtain a prescription for Xanax so I don’t need to use other routes to get my fill,” W added.

W also mentioned how Xanax is not the only form of pills that people ingest, while it is indeed the fastest growing form.

Opioids like fentanyl have excelled in their levels of use over the last two years, according to Steve Johnson, director of the San Bernardino County Crime Lab.

The party pill lifestyle has also grown in lieu of the mass attraction to concert festivals and raves that inspire drug use to the highest degree. Attendees of such events can attest to the witnessing of the use of such behaviors.

“I saw more people than I ever have rolling off acid and ecstasy this weekend, it was crazy,” said anonymous respondent “N,” who attended the first weekend of the Coachella music festival in Indio, California

Coachella has been a hot spot for teenagers and young adults, so it makes sense that the drug use would appear rampant.

“The group feel makes you feel more comfortable doing it I guess, because you feel safer,” N added.

Drug use has grown in large quantities across California, and the prospects of the dangers it includes could be worrisome for the Inland Empire.