Drug Abuse and Rehabilitation in Clovis, California
Clovis is the second largest city in Fresno County, with the largest, of course, being Fresno itself. Fresno happens to be the largest intravenous drug-abusing city in the United States with rates of abuse around 3 times the national average. This is in spite of the fact that drug abuse across the country has escalated, particularly for opioid-based drugs like heroin and fentanyl. Fortunately, Clovis drug rehabs and Fresno County treatment centers offer services for those suffering from addiction.
For the remainder of this article, we’ll discuss the impact that these drugs have on their users and further talk about how treatment for these drugs is carried out. For those that are enmeshed in the cycle of addiction, help is out there. Hope is possible. The journey won’t be easy and it will be riddled with pitfalls, but every day, lives are saved and rebuilt. Every day, people make the choice to turn their lives around and succeed in the effort. If you or someone you love is in entering rehab, it’s important to understand what that process looks like and what they can expect. The County of Fresno has a culture of drug abuse, and this culture destroys lives. Don’t let one of those lives be your own.
Heroin and Meth Remain on Top
The number one drug of abuse in the county remains methamphetamine. Much of the problem for the area is due to the fact that Fresno County is a major center or drug trafficking activity. The DEA estimates that roughly 80% of the nation’s methamphetamine runs through Fresno County en route to other major cities all across the US.
According to data gleaned from rehabilitation clinics, the majority of folks in Fresno and the surrounding area prefer injecting their drugs as opposed to other methods of ingestion. This, of course, presents the user with a number of serious dangers, and much of the runoff from Fresno finds its way into Clovis. Roughly 75% of drug addicts that are treated for IV drug use have hepatitis C. The city of Fresno experienced a 17% increase in the number of patients reporting HIV positive test results.
Although much of the attention for the drug abuse problem centers around Fresno, the entire county and all the cities within it have been severely impacted by cartel influence in the region. The two major drugs for trade supplied by cartels are two of the most dangerous: heroin and methamphetamine. Recently, the drug fentanyl has been responsible for a growing number of bodies.
Clovis, California and Heroin Abuse
Much of the heroin that comes into Fresno County is made in Mexico and of the “black tar” variety. Black tar heroin is so named because of how it looks. Typically, heroin is a white or brown powder in its pure form. But the manufacturing process of black tar heroin riddles the substance with impurities. Hence why it looks like a black tar as opposed to a white or brown powder.
Since the active ingredients in black tar heroin are so diluted, this kind of heroin must be injected intravenously in order to achieve any sort of a high. The results for the County have been catastrophic.
Nearly 75% of those who are habitual IV drug abusers will test positive for hepatitis C. Rates of HIV have risen as well. Since those that abuse heroin are not particularly interested in their health, needle sharing is a common practice. Health officials have attempted to curb the issue by providing addicts with clean needles since attempting to curb drug abuse itself has proved a losing battle.
The majority of those who use heroin are white, male, and between the ages of 18-24. But statistically, all demographics across the board have seen rapid gains in the abuse of heroin. Many speculate that this problem originated with the aggressive prescription of otherwise legal painkillers for ailments as minor as a toothache. Meanwhile, the drug cartels have become more sophisticated in their methods of trafficking the substances.
The CDC has weighed in on the issue as the problem has reached epidemic proportions.
Understanding Heroin Abuse and Addiction
Heroin is one of the most addictive substances known to man. Not only is there a physical aspect to the addiction, there is also a psychological aspect to it. When a user injects heroin, they immediately feel a rush of euphoria. This is followed by an extended period of peacefulness and tranquility. Chemically speaking, their brain is being flooded with the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is involved in the reward system of the brain. Think of all the peak moments in your life: the birth of your first child, when you were offered a position or a promotion, when your team won the big game. Dopamine was responsible for the good feelings that you felt.
When dopamine is artificially manufactured in this way, the drug takes the place of pursuing real positive life goals. Furthermore, the body produces a tolerance for the drug. Each time a user abuses heroin, the impact is diminished. As if that weren’t bad enough, the experience of not having the drug in your system becomes worse and worse. Eventually, users are not left pursuing a blissful feeling but chasing away a terrible one. Every impulse and motivation is geared toward procuring more of the drug, as the feeling of not being on it becomes worse and worse.
Long Term Effects of Heroin Addiction
Many of the problems heroin addicts face, even years after they successfully kicked the habit can be traced to their method of ingestion: injection. While viral blood diseases like HIV and hepatitis C are treatable, they are difficult, if not impossible, to cure. Users will remain with several problems throughout the course of their lives because of the lack of good sense they used when they were getting high.
The veins provide a perfect passageway directly to the heart. This is largely why those who use any drug intravenously have a greater risk of damaging their heart with infections. Further, since heroin and all opioids act as respiratory depressants, problems for the lungs and lung infections are not uncommon.
Worse still is what heroin does to the user’s brain. By over stimulating the dopamine channel on a repeated basis, the user’s brain now relies on heroin for the purpose of producing dopamine. That means that those happy feelings that most individuals are accustomed to feeling cannot be felt by a recovering addict until their brain chemistry has restored itself. Heroin has also shown itself to impact the density of the user’s white and gray matter, and those in recovery have difficulties with problem solving, cognition, and executive functioning. It will take time for their brains to completely heal. Most of those in recovery report that they don’t feel normal again until after a full year of abstinence.
Heroin Detox Experience, Treatment, and Timeline
Heroin detox is by no means a pleasant experience. Users will feel intense cravings for the drug coupled with symptoms of nausea, agitation, shaking, sweating, and cramps. The pain will be constant and relentless. This is largely why heroin addiction treatment focuses on treating the symptoms of withdrawal through the use of helper drugs like methadone and suboxone. These drugs allow doctors to taper the user off of heroin and get them over the hump. The point of this is to dull the pain of withdrawal.
Symptoms will begin 6 to 12 hours after the last dose. Over the course of the next 3 days, they will be at their worst and begin to subside shortly after. The physical addiction can be purged within a week.
However, the impact that heroin has had on the brain’s chemistry can last up to a year. We’ll discuss this later in the section on post-acute treatment.
Clovis, California and Methamphetamine Abuse
Methamphetamine is usually sold as a white or bluish powder or glass-like crystals. It can be smoked, snorted, vaporized, eaten, and injected. The majority of those in Fresno County are injecting the drug. Injection affords the user an instantaneous high, delivering the high-powered stimulant directly to the heart if injected intravenously.
Local drug enforcement officers have listed methamphetamine as the number one drug threat to the region. Not only is meth widely available, but it’s highly addictive, and on a long enough timescale, can produce psychotic symptoms in its users.
Unfortunately, a large number of individuals who choose to use the drug are college and high school students, or working class Americans. Meth gives users an intense focus and alertness that can last several hours. For those that need to pull an all-nighter or are on the road for hours on end, meth can provide them with enough energy to make it through.
A number of those who find themselves chronic abusers of the drug will quickly realize the toll methamphetamine takes on both the mind and the body.
Understanding Methamphetamine Abuse and Addiction
When a user gets high on meth, they feel an immediate burst of euphoria followed by hours of energy. When the drug is ingested intravenously, the euphoria is heightened, but the energy doesn’t last as long. After the drug has worn off, the user can feel anxious and fidgety. An immediate craving for the drug begins. This feeling is none too pleasant and is coupled by an extended period of restlessness and an inability to fall asleep. The user can be awake for hours even after the positive effects of the drug has worn off. They may require artificial means to help them sleep. Alcohol is one of the most popular options.
Like most recreational drugs, meth activates the dopamine pathway in order to produce the sense of euphoria a user feels. Over time, the brain requires the drug in order to produce dopamine.
Long Term Effects of Methamphetamine Abuse
On a long enough timescale, meth will destroy your mind and your body. There isn’t a system in the body that it doesn’t have a severe deleterious impact on. Foremost, however, the heart, arteries, and blood vessels are compromised by meth.
Since meth is a stimulant, it causes the heart to beat rapidly over extended periods of time. This results in a weakening of the heart muscle that is cumulative. While occasional use may not create these kinds of serious issues, meth is highly addictive and incredibly difficult to control.
Since the blood vessels carry blood, oxygen, and nourishment to all of the major organs of the body, and meth constricts those blood vessels, the organs themselves will be deprived of nutrients over time resulting in the gradual decay of the organs.
For those who have seen “faces of meth” images of people who appear to have rapidly aged because of meth use, that happens for a number of complicated reasons. The first reason is that the skin is one of the organs that has been impacted by the constriction of the blood vessels. Secondly, meth causes its users to sweat profusely, causing the skin to become mottled in the process. Bad skin is one of the number one side effects of meth abuse. It’s incredibly difficult to hide.
Meth is not like heroin insofar as there is not physical addiction. The cravings for the drug have to do with the impact that it has on the dopamine channel. Meth users in the early stages of recovery experience agitation, cravings, and often full-blown psychosis. Unlike heroin, there is no drug that doctors can prescribe to help users wean themselves off the drugs. Doctors are left treating the numerous symptoms that meth withdrawal causes.
Drug Abuse Treatment
Drug abuse treatment can be divided into 3 phases. Those are:
- Post-Acute Treatment
- Sobriety Management
Of those, the post-acute phase is when the majority of individuals relapse. This is largely due to the fact that the brain’s chemistry has yet to restore itself from the period of drug abuse. During this phase, users will report an intense sense of depression, rampant cravings for the drug, agitation, mood disturbances, and anhedonia. Anhedonia means the inability to experience pleasure.
Drug abuser’s brains have come to rely on their substance of choice in order to produce dopamine, and without the drug, they can’t experience the feelings that people typically feel when something good happens. It will take about a year for the individual’s brain chemistry to restore itself.
Options for Drug Treatment
Those beginning their recovery have a number of options for drug treatment. Those include:
While all of these can be successful, inpatient programs have shown the greatest degree of success because they provide the most restrictive environment. For those that are detoxing from heroin or methamphetamine, inpatient programs are recommended. Generally speaking, inpatient programs last for 28 days, but there are also 3-month programs. Those in recovery will graduate from an inpatient program to either partial hospitalization or an intensive outpatient program.
Partial hospitalization involves the patient attending programs during the day within the hospital. This can include meeting with doctors, social workers, and registered drug counselors for one-on-one or group meetings. Individuals in recovery can also gain access to state services that will help them find housing and link them to outpatient care providers.
Throughout this period, individuals will be expected to maintain their sobriety.
The ultimate goal of drug rehabilitation to is to rebuild lives. Every day, with the help of care providers and each other, those in recovery make the transition to a normal life. They get jobs, get training, build relationships, and experience the sorts of pleasures that get stronger over time as opposed to weaker.
Community support groups are there to help them every step of the way and have proven pivotal to the process of recovery. For those who need it, help is out there, and in spite of the odds, millions of people all over the country rebound from past addiction and lead meaningful fulfilling lives. There is every reason to hope that you or your loved one can be among them.