The Rising Drug Epidemic in Concord, California and Getting Treatment
Illegal drug use is seriously impacting northern California cities like Concord. Drug abuse is California’s leading premature killer, ending the lives of more people than car accidents, suicides and murders. Every year, California law enforcement seizes 413,000 pounds of marijuana, more than 300,000 ecstasy pills, 18,000 pounds of cocaine, and over 5,000 pounds of meth. Northern California, per capita, has vastly more overdoses than other parts of the state. Every county north of Yuba and Colusa county have experienced an epidemic of overdoses. Concord drug rehabs offer services for those suffering from addiction.
Northern California counties like Concord commonly have less access to the lifesaving healthcare that is necessary when a person is having an overdose. This lack of access is largely due to the large size of the Northern California region, which is spread out in terms of its population. Overall, cities like Concord generally experience limitations in robust addiction recovery services.
For the past few years, at least 40,000 emergency room visits in California are caused by illegal drug use This number makes up roughly 1.3% of California’s 3 million people who use illegal drugs. Not everyone is lucky enough to make it to the emergency room. Based on the California Department of Public Health, about 11 people die from an overdose in California every single day.
Some Efforts to Fight Opioid and Heroin Overdose
As Concord law officers and paramedics are usually the first on the scene of an addiction, they have been trained and are now equipped with Naloxone to stop overdoses. The drug blocks the effects of opioids and has become beneficial in the prevention of overdose deaths. Officers and paramedics can inject the drug or sprayed it in the nose. Depending on the severity of the episode, numerous doses may be administered to stop an overdose in progress.
Reversing the impact heroin and opioids have had on the community has also become a key issue with educators and local government. Efforts to stop the spread of heroin in Concord have included intensive public service campaigns and more engaged classroom activities directly addressing heroin and its hazards. There are also efforts to prevent prescription pills from reaching the streets by providing drop boxes for unused and expired medications. With these efforts, there are still other drugs on the street driving addiction and overdose.
Other Drug Issues: Pseudoephedrine and Methamphetamines
Though state laws have forced restrictions on the sale of pseudoephedrine and ephedrine, this has not hindered the production of the drugs. The practice of smurfing, or going from pharmacy to pharmacy to source ingredients was once the popular tactic for procuring the necessary ingredients for meth production. Smurfing rings in the state often include around 30 individuals in charge of purchasing the medication. These groups try to hit an average of 20 stores a day. From one day’s worth of work, these groups can source enough medication to create around four pounds of methamphetamine. This practice has been slowed by new California laws, which has led many drug producers to find alternatives to making meth. Often, the result is a more potent version of methamphetamine. Around 30% of the methamphetamine transported here from Mexico features a stronger formula.
The Overdose Risk of Drugs
As drug use shifts from dependency to addiction, tolerance for that drug builds. With ever new benchmark of tolerance, the user is brought closer and closer to the potential for an overdose. Powerful drugs like heroin can prescription pills can slow respiration and heart rate to the point where the heart stops beating.
Even if an addict can avoid the tragedy of an overdose, there is still a long-term impact on the body. Drug use over time destroys the kidneys and the liver which work double-time trying to filter out the poisons users put in their bodies. Drugs, whether stimulants or depressants, cripples the immune system making many drug addicts highly susceptible to a long list of debilitating infections that a healthy body can normally fend off.
Knowing the Signs of Drug Addiction
Knowing the signs of addiction can help make it easier to move toward intervention. An educated family member can approach a drug addicted loved one with information even when they are in denial. Family and friends can see the signs:
- A perpetual state of euphoria
- Periods of depression, sometimes severe where the addict remains isolated
- Severe chills and fever that they might blame on the flu
- A lack of interest in activities that once were important
- Lies about their whereabouts and actions
- Social isolation and separation from friend that are not drug addicts
- Actions that can be deemed suspicious to cover up behaviors related to acquiring and using drugs
- Things go missing. Theft becomes common to obtain money for drugs
When an Overdose Results in Hospitalization
If a loved one overdoses and ends up in the ER, it presents an opportunity to confront the individual about their addiction. It is extremely difficult to explain away the incident and with a combination of gentle conversation and expressions of love, the possibility of help may begin in a hospital emergency room. Ideally, the hospital stay also can offer an easy transition into treatment. Hospitals may offer the pre-intake tests that can qualify an individual for long-term treatment.
What Pre-Intake Tests Determine
Physical Examination- a professional medical evaluation by a physician determines if there are any other medical issues other than addiction that may interfere or complicate drug addiction treatment. A doctor will also determine of drugs have taken a physical toll on the body.
Psychological Testing-the impact of drugs on the mind can be severe and if other mental illness issues are present, this can also complicate drug treatment. Identifying any mental disorders is essential for pre-intake specialists to outline a treatment plan.
Drug Testing- There is no diagnosis of addiction. A drug test determines the quantity of drugs being consumed and what type of drugs are being used. This test will help refine the treatment program for the user based on the severity of the addiction.
Personal Background- Knowing the addicted and what has gone on in their life to bring about addiction is the objective of the intensive interview conducted by a pre-intake specialist. Family life, abuse or a history of undiagnosed mental disorders may all act as a backdrop to seeking drugs for personal escape.
Launching an Intervention
If a loved one is still resistant to treatment, a hospital may have no other choice be to release the person once they have recovered from the overdose. At that point, many families will implement an intervention to help further convince the loved one that rehabilitation is the only solution.
The steps for intervention may include:
- Defining a Clear Plan: using a professional intervention specialist is ideal, however advice and counseling from social workers and organizations that help with drug addiction can give planning strategies to families. They can help prepare a family for what to expect, what to say and how to move forward during the intervention.
- Form an Intervention Group: deciding who will participate in the intervention is key. Many may not wish to join in because of the stressfulness of the situation. There are also those who may not be emotionally strong enough to handle the event. A group leader will designate those who are ready to help.
- Doing the Homework: an intervention is made up of a group of loved ones committed to helping the addicted individual. Each participant must understand the depth of the addicted person’s dependency, as well as understand the value and process of treatment so they can speak truthfully during the intervention process.
- Know What Must Happen: If an addicted person refuses treatment, then the group must agree on consequences. An addicted person may be excluded from the household, refused money or support. As painful as this step is, there cannot be any contradiction among group members.
- Be Prepared: Collecting one’s thoughts and preparing what to say to the addicted is what makes up the substance of intervention. Express love, explain how their actions have caused pain and how necessary treatment for them will be healing for all.
- Conduct the Intervention: the addicted is confronted by the group and the thoughts and expressions of love are revealed one by one to them. It is important that expressions during the intervention not become threatening, angry or accusatory. Calmness is the optimal emotion.
- Following up: being prepared with a treatment option is the final step in the intervention process. Whether it be inpatient residential treatment or an outpatient plan, having a recovery center ready to go makes the process smooth and stress-free for an addicted person who is now ready to get help.
Detoxing is the process of purging drugs from the body. In this process, however, the body reacts physically to the absence of the drug and symptoms of withdrawal can be dramatic. Because of the potential for serious medical consequences, no one should ever attempt detox on their own. Under the supervision of recovery specialists, the detox process, though difficult and often painful, can be kept safe. Recovery specialists may administer drugs to help ease the symptoms of withdrawal. They will closely monitor the process for medical emergencies and provide the moral support to help the addicted through this stage of treatment.
How Long Does Detox Last? A Timeline
After the last dose of any drug is taken, the detox process begins.
The addicted may experience severe cramping and nausea. Trembling and difficulty breathing will persist. Diarrhea and vomiting will occur. Agitation and anxiety may become a persistent emotional state and periods of depression will follow. Many addicts describe the experience as a “tearing up” of the body.
Within a period of days, the cravings for drugs will begin to reemerge. The body will continue its rebellion with nausea and vomiting. Cramping, especially stomach cramps, will be prevalent. Feelings of depression will linger. The risk of suicide is common as is the risk of abandoning treatment and lapsing back into drug use. The recovery center specialists are there to monitor these events and protect the recovering through the process.
1 Week and Beyond
Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome
The withdrawal process can continue for weeks or months in a milder version for many recovery patients. Post-acute withdrawal syndrome describes the symptoms that occur long after detox. During this period, the recovering is at greatest risk for relapse, turning back to their drug of choice not to get high, but simply to feel better. Drug recovery over the long haul may be burdened with excessive exhaustion and constant drug cravings. Deep depression and difficulty thinking clearly make every day a struggle. A common phenomenon is a condition called anhedonia, which is the inability to feel pleasure. Without the drug, the recovering cannot enjoy any other aspect of life, whether it be food, sex or even a joke. It is through extensive treatment, that the recovering can overcome the lasting effects of drug addiction and see the light of a sober life.
How Customizing Treatment Works
One recovery treatment does not fit all. The value of recovery centers is their ability to evaluate each individual thoroughly to determine the best course of treatment. During pre-intake and even during the detox process, recovery specialists are busy outlining a customized course of action that will suit the patient best. The options may include residential inpatient treatment or partial hospitalization plans. Also, outpatient programs may include intensive outpatient therapy as an option, depending on the scenario.
If residential treatment is decided upon, the recovery specialists will decide on the length of stay, which ranges from thirty to ninety days. If they decide on outpatient care, the frequency of outpatient sessions and what medications may be prescribed to assist the recovering through the process will be determined.
How Residential Treatment Centers Help
Residential treatment centers offer a comforting sanctuary where recovering addicts can slowly end their relationship with drugs. The goal of any residential treatment center is to isolate the recovering in to improve the odds of complete abstinence from drugs, both physically and psychologically. A combination of therapies may be used over the course of the treatment period. During their stay, a recovering addict will experience the following:
Medical support- Monitoring and evaluating each patient ensures medical issues do not arise during the recovery process. Many addicts suffer from preexisting medical conditions or medical issues acquired during drug use, such as HIV. Also, long-term complexities to detox may still be a threat to personal health.
A support system of fellow recovering individuals- Getting the support from other recovering addicts means sharing experiences, understanding from those who have followed the same path of addiction, and receiving personal support when the risk of relapse arises.
Healthy alternatives to drugs– New to many residential treatment programs are health and fitness education options. Refocusing the mind and body on other aspects of life other than drugs begins with diet, exercise and meditation, which may be offered during the residential stay.
The Outpatient Option for Milder Addiction
When an addiction is not severe or when the recovering has reached a stage where residential facilities are no longer needed, outpatient programs become a step in the right direction. In outpatient treatment, patients attend therapy sessions and group sessions during the day and go home at night. They conduct a normal, functioning life while undergoing treatment. This approach is a preferred option for many who continue to maintain responsibilities including school and work while still struggling with a milder dependency. Outpatient drug treatment plans may also include the continued use of some prescribed medicines to manage cravings.
Twelve Step Programs for Aftercare Sobriety
Regardless of the treatment program selected, they will both include a twelve-step program. This type of therapy has become a standard method in drug addiction treatment for long-term recovery. The programs focus on a combination of spiritual and psychological healing to help firm up the mind against the temptations of drugs. Most importantly, the program establishes a series of achievable goals. Each step in the process brings a recovering addict closer to the promise of long-term sobriety.
Seventy-four percent of drug treatment programs rely on some sort of twelve step program. The effectiveness has been proven for sobriety and the application is flexible enough that it can be used for almost any kind of addiction with any type of substance.
Understanding the Twelve Steps
- Accepting powerlessness to drugs or alcohol. By giving up attempts to master a drug of choice the recovering addict can begin mastering life
- Step outside self-centeredness
- Rely on spirituality for guidance
- Self-examine without fear or dread to uncover the causes of addiction and overcome them
- Accept the blame for your actions and move forward
- Choose spiritual healing for recovery and accept that as part of the process
- Turn to God to end weaknesses that may lead to relapse
- Return to those that you have wronged and make amends for those wrongs
- Always be ready to make amends as the possibility of making mistakes that hurt others will continue
- Seek forgiveness
- Use prayer and meditation as tools for healing
- Seek a point of spiritual awakening
Family and Recovery
Usually the ones closest to a recovering person can cause the most harm. Family, whether it be siblings or parents, they are ready to remind the recovering of their missteps, evoke painful experiences and seem to be holding back the recovering process with old resentments. They do so unknowingly, as they may still be wounded from the addicted person’s behavior and are themselves in a process of recovery.
Making family part of the recovery process is critical for most addicts. A recovering person needs to help heal those festering wounds of resentment, guilt and fear. A recovering person must accept the damage they have done to the ones they love the most. They need to communicate to family to better understand what their needs are for their recovery. In step two of any twelve step program, the recovering person is stepping outside their shell of selfishness and finding empathy and understanding for what they have put their family through. Family therapy may be recommended by a recovery specialist who will be the first to detect issues at home that may jeopardize recovery.
Learning a Sober Life
Anyone recovering from drugs must make a sober life their primary goal. It does not come easy and there are numerous temptations that can lead the recovering down the path of relapse. Building and maintaining a strong relationship with counselors and continuing with support groups can help fortify the commitment to sobriety.
The first thing any recovering person will learn to identify is the triggers that tempt them to drugs. These fragments of memory linger in the subconscious and are remnants of an addicted life. Outside influences can cause these memories to rise into the present and drive a craving. The triggers can be:
A place where drugs used to be purchased, such as a street corner or park. Even the name of the park or the street corner mentioned in passing can become an instant trigger.
An old friend who may still be using drugs can show up and encourage drug use.
The feelings of stress, depression or shame that lie at the foundation of a person’s addiction can be a source for relapse anytime they interact with family or friends.
Bad memories that drove addiction in the first place can still occur. Recollections of abuse are some of the bad memories that haunt many with addiction and can trigger a relapse.
Talking Away Temptation
With the help of support groups in aftercare, many recovering addicts can discuss their triggers and temptations. Understanding their roots helps recovering addicts overcome the power triggers hold over the recovering. Knowing how to manage a trigger when it arises helps prevent relapse. This continuous support helps many recovering addicts handle triggers, deal with the difficulties of the world and most importantly remain sober.