Substance Abuse

Alcohol Abuse Takes its Toll; Treatment Admissions Increase

A broad spectrum of public health and safety problems are directly linked to substance abuse, including addiction, traffic accidents, domestic violence, crime, unintended pregnancy, and serious conditions such as cancer, liver disease, HIV/AIDS, and birth defects. Youth who engage in drinking and substance abuse early are more likely develop alcohol dependence later in life and are more likely to experience changes in brain development that may have life-long effects, including problems with memory and normal growth and development.1 This indicator presents a variety of commonly-used indicators to help gauge the extent of alcohol and other drug (AOD) abuse in San Bernardino County. These include trends in AOD-related admissions to treatment facilities, serious (injury or fatal) alcohol-involved auto collisions, and AOD-related deaths.

How is San Bernardino County Doing?

AOD-related treatment continued to grow:
  • In the past year (2013/14), AOD-related admissions to county treatment facilities rose 10%, led by 29% growth in admissions for alcohol abuse.
  • When looking at the past five years, admissions have grown 15%, led by 26% growth in admissions for methamphetamine addiction.
  • 20% of clients receiving AOD services also received county mental health services in 2013/14, while 44% have received mental health services in their lifetimes.2
There were more alcohol-involved accidents in 2014 than the previous year:
  • In 2014, there were 1,073 alcohol-involved serious collisions in San Bernardino County, and 16,960 in California.
  • 12% of serious collisions in San Bernardino County involved alcohol, compared to 11% of collisions statewide.
  • Between 2013 and 2014, alcohol-involved collisions rose 10% compared to a 1% decline statewide.
  • Since 2010, alcohol-involved collisions rose 11% in San Bernardino County compared to a 6% decline statewide.
The rate of drug-induced deaths improved while the rate of alcohol-related deaths worsened:
  • San Bernardino County’s rate of drug-induced deaths improved over the past five years and the county had fewer drug-induced deaths per capita than the statewide average.
  • Deaths caused by chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, which are often associated with substance abuse, have worsened over the past five years and the county had more chronic liver disease and cirrhosis deaths than the statewide average.3
Youth Perception of Binge Drinking
In a survey of 1,927 youth throughout San Bernardino County, nearly 75% believe that binge drinking, which is defined as drinking five or more alcoholic drinks at the same location on at least one day in the past 30 days, is dangerous. The other 25% reported that this was not a dangerous practice. The County of San Bernardino, Department of Behavioral Health engages in prevention and education activities with community partners that educate youth on the dangers of alcohol and binge drinking on development and social functioning.

Source: County of San Bernardino, Department of Behavioral Health

Source: County of San Bernardino, Department of Behavioral Health, CalOMS Dataset

The Mental Health/Substance Abuse Connection
The relationship between mental health and substance dependence is often interconnected. More than 8.9 million people nationally, are reported to have both mental health and substance abuse co-occurring disorders. When treated concurrently, treatments are found to be more effective. Treating the whole person improves wellbeing by leading to reductions in addiction relapse, reemergence of psychiatric symptoms, and utilization of crises intervention services.

Source: County of San Bernardino, Department of Behavioral Health

Note: Data have been revised since previously reported.

Source: California Highway Patrol (


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (
  2. San Bernardino County CalOMS dataset
  3. California Department of Public Health, County Health Status Profiles (