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Santa Maria nonprofit looks to address drug abuse issues as overdose deaths hit record highs

Posted at 7:02 PM, May 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-12 16:04:06-04

A new report from the CDC shows more than 107,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2021, an increase of 15% from the previous year.

Some health experts attribute the surge to the pandemic, widespread unemployment, and more Americans reporting mental health issues.

"It's an epidemic you know, fentanyl has just taken over," says Gabriel Valencia, an Alcohol and Drugs Counselor at Lags Recovery Center in Santa Maria.

Valencia says as overdose deaths have risen across the country, more people have shown up at Lags seeking support for drug abuse issues with opioids, methamphetamines, and fentanyl.

That report from the CDC says of all the overdose deaths in 2021, roughly two-thirds of them involved fentanyl or other synthetic opioids.

"We work on catching it before it happens," says Victoria Wolf with Lags. She says the health professionals on-site offer medication-assisted treatment, therapy, and mental health services to their clients.

Wolf says Lags is also in the process of opening up a navigation center that will serve as a shelter for those facing addiction issues.

Valencia says that he is recovering from drug abuse himself and is now working to help others who are going through the struggles he went through.

Valencia says he is even now on track to receive his Associate's Degree from Allan Hancock College.

Health officials at Lags Recovery Center say their doors are open, and that if you or a loved one are dealing with drug addiction issues, it is important that you seek the resources for help.