Addiction and Drug Abuse Treatment in Inglewood, California
Inglewood is a small city of 111,905 residents, located in the southwest region of Los Angeles County, California, between the downtown Los Angeles area and LA’s international airport.
In June of 2017, an investigation by the Los Angeles Strike Force, that had lasted for two years, led to the arrest of over 20 people with ties to the Sinaloa Cartel, an illegal drug trafficking and money laundering organization operating in Inglewood and the surrounding areas.
Following the arrests, the Strike Force, together with FBI officials, seized vast amounts of illegal narcotics estimated to have a street value of over $6 Million. The confiscated narcotics included 30 pounds of heroin, 81 pounds of marijuana, 280 pounds of cocaine, and 290 pounds of methamphetamines. In addition to the drugs, the officials also discovered 33 firearms and $1.3 million.
This is just one example of a much bigger concern for Inglewood and other cities in the Los Angeles area. Drug cartels and gang activity are a serious problem for Los Angeles and federal law enforcement officials. The Sinaloa Cartel is one of many international drug trafficking organizations that work in covert, intricate networks, transporting vast quantities of dangerous and illegal narcotics across the southern border of the United States and into California’s communities.
Inglewood and other Los Angeles County cities and neighborhoods suffer from high rates of drug abuse and addiction compared with other regions of the United States. The drug epidemic in Southern California is fueled by drug cartels and gang-related activity, and the constant supply of illegal narcotics has caught many individuals and families in Inglewood and other nearby cities in a vicious cycle of drug abuse and addiction. The drug epidemic is not dominated by only one substance in Inglewood, but by several.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), marijuana remains the most commonly abused drug in Los Angeles County, accounting for 27.2 percent of all drug treatment admissions. Heroin also represents a big concern in the community, representing 19.8 percent of admissions in the county, while prescription opioids/opiates not including heroin made up 3.3 percent of admissions. Although cocaine is a serious concern for law enforcement in Los Angeles and its surrounding cities, the drug only accounts for 6.8 percent of Los Angeles County treatment admissions, while methamphetamines make up a staggering 18.8 percent.
Methamphetamines are a growing concern in Inglewood and all of Los Angeles County. Meth is a dangerous and highly addictive drug, and the prevalence of methamphetamine abuse and addiction has increased substantially over the last few years, making it law enforcement’s top priority. In fact, a survey conducted by the National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) revealed that 36.2 percent of state and local law enforcement officials nationwide rank methamphetamines as the number one drug threat. In the pacific region, an overwhelming 90.9 percent of state and local law enforcement officials report meth as their number one concern.
Methamphetamine Abuse and Addiction
Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug typically found in powder, pill, or crystal form that is commonly inhaled or smoked, swallowed, snorted, and injected. The drug causes a sudden but short-lived increase in the chemical dopamine in the brain of the user, causing a feeling of intense euphoria. Short-term, methamphetamine cause hyperactivity, a reduced appetite, quickened breathing, and an increase in body temperature and blood pressure.
Long-term, repeated use of meth leads to dependency and addiction and rewires the brain, fundamentally changing the brain chemistry of the user and altering concentration and thinking patterns. Over time, those suffering from addiction to methamphetamines become compulsively reliant on the drug. Long-term addiction to meth carries severe and long-lasting consequences, including the following:
- Severe dental problems
- Itchy skin, which can lead to skin sores from scratching
- Severe anxiety and depression
- Severe Insomnia
- Changes in eating patterns and extreme weight loss
- Increased irritability and aggression
- Paranoia and Hallucinations
Addiction to meth causes great suffering for the individual who has become dependent on the substance and their family, friends, and other loved ones. Although addiction to meth and other highly addictive substances can produce severe side effects, begin to rewire the brain, and may feel impossible to break free from, recovery is possible.
Even for those suffering from the most severe and long-lasting addictions, it is possible to regain control of your life and break free from the vicious cycle of drug abuse and addiction. If you or someone you know is dealing with an addiction to meth or other substance, keep reading to learn about treatment options and what the road to recovery may look like.
The General Treatment Process
For those with severe addictions to meth or other drugs, attempting to stop using can be physically and psychologically painful and, in extreme cases, even dangerous. Although it may be possible, in some situations, for those suffering from addiction to stop using drugs on their own, professional treatment is required in many cases.
As previously discussed, addiction can fundamentally alter the brain’s chemistry and wiring, severely affecting the addicted individual’s patterns of thinking and behavior. Chronic use of methamphetamines or other addictive substances disrupt critical brain functions, causing a compulsive desire to seek out and use the drug. Over time, addiction harms a person’s decision-making ability and limits their self-control. Although organized treatment and drug rehabilitation has been shown to be effective, those suffering from addiction may find the thought of attending treatment frightening. It is common and perfectly normal to feel anxious, angry, or afraid at the idea of undergoing inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation for substance abuse and addiction.
After making the sometimes very difficult decision to get help for your addiction, either alone or with the help of friends, family, coworkers, and/or a professional, you may feel a great deal of anxiety surrounding the idea of entering treatment. Many people worry not only about what treatment may be like (which will be explained in later sections), but about putting current responsibilities on hold to attend treatment.
Common concerns people face prior to entering treatment include the following:
- How children, elderly parents, or other dependents will be taken care of while undergoing treatment
- How dogs, cats, or other pets will be cared for
- How to pay rent or any other bills while undergoing treatment (there are automatic payment systems that you can sign up for, or you may be able to ask a friend or family member to help you while you are in treatment)
- How to tell friends, family, or other loved ones about the decision to enter treatment
- How to tell an employer or school officials (all employees are entitled to 12 weeks of medical leave, which can be used for substance addiction treatment)
- How to pay for treatment (in most cases, insurance will cover most or all of the costs of treatment)
- How to plan for life after treatment and remain sober in the long-term
Enlisting the help of family, friends, or other loved ones can help you take care of many of the above concerns you may have before entering treatment. It is important that, while you undergo inpatient or outpatient treatment, you are able to focus your attention and energy on your health, recovery, and getting well. Taking the time to ensure that all practical and logistical concerns are taken care of prior to intake can help you do so.
Drug Assessment and Intake
Each rehabilitation facility has its own particular set of rules, procedures, and processes that it follows each time a new patient arrives for treatment. The intake process differs substantially from treatment center to treatment center; however, there are a few standard processes that you can expect upon entering treatment.
The first step of the intake process generally involves an initial drug assessment. The purpose of this assessment is to determine what drugs or substances a new patient is currently abusing or may have abused in the past, the severity and duration of the addiction, and the patient’s attitudes and beliefs about their dependency. The assessment provides clinicians, addiction specialists, and other staff with the information they require to develop a plan for treatment and recovery customized to meet the unique needs of the individual.
Although the tools and methods used during drug assessments are likely to differ from center to center, you may be able to expect some of the following:
- Providing a blood or urine sample and/or submitting to a breathalyzer
- A comprehensive physical exam
- Filling out documents about your individual and family medical history
- Meeting one-on-one with a certified addiction specialist or other counselor to discuss your addiction, your overall mental and physical health, and your expectations for treatment
- Taking a number of self-reported surveys to measure your behavioral and mental health, substance abuse patterns, and attitudes and beliefs about your addiction
- A comprehensive mental health evaluation
Once the initial drug assessment process is concluded, you will be asked to read and sign a variety of consent forms. Additionally, a staff member at the facility will likely go through your bags and belongings with you to remove any restricted items you may have brought with you. Every treatment center is different in terms of the specific items they restrict patients from bringing to rehabilitation, but the following items are typically restricted:
- Drugs, alcohol, and unapproved prescription or over-the-counter medications
- Cell phones, laptops, tablets, and other electronic devices
- Expensive belongings and cash
- Revealing or offensive clothing
- Products that contain alcohol
- Flammable or otherwise dangerous objects or substances
The last step of the intake process typically involves a tour of the facility, guided by a staff member or a current patient undergoing treatment. You will be shown where you will sleep, eat, relax, and participate in individual and/or group therapy. These tours provide new patients with an opportunity to ask any questions they may have about what to expect from treatment.
For many people entering rehabilitation, perhaps particularly those addicted to methamphetamines, heroin, or other highly addictive substances, the detox and withdrawal process is the component of treatment that produces the most anxiety. “Detoxification” refers to the period of time during which the body rids itself of its physical dependence to drugs or alcohol by disposing of the toxins and chemicals associated with the addiction.
Addiction causes the body and brain of the addicted individual to become reliant upon receiving their usual dose of the substance. When the substance is not provided to the body, symptoms of withdrawal are typically produced. Not all patients undergoing treatment go through a period of detox; however, those with severe addictions generally do.
Although each individual experiences detoxification differently, the process of detoxing and withdrawing from the long-term abuse of methamphetamine (identified as Inglewood and Los Angeles County’s largest growing drug abuse and addiction concern) is notoriously difficult. Withdrawal symptoms that those detoxing from meth often experience include the following:
- Extreme drug cravings
- Fatigue and insomnia
- Heart palpitations and respiratory problems
- Tremors, muscle cramps, and muscle aches
- Anxiety and depression
Prescription and synthetic opioids, including heroin, are also often very difficult to detox from, and the process is typically accompanied by painful withdrawal symptoms. Those detoxing from heroin, meth, and other highly addictive substances are generally closely monitored and medically supervised during the withdrawal process. Symptoms of withdrawal can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days (although lingering symptoms can continue for as long as a few months in certain cases). However, after the 28-hour mark, symptoms tend to lessen in severity substantially over time.
Detoxification is only one component of the rehabilitation process. It is a vitally important step in the path to recovery, but long-term sobriety and regaining control over your life generally requires additional inpatient or outpatient treatment. There are a variety of treatment options in Inglewood, Los Angeles County, and elsewhere, which incorporate intensive therapies, group counseling, educational programs, and coping techniques. Keep reading to learn about the treatment types and what to expect.
While undergoing inpatient or residential treatment for drug or alcohol addiction, patients live full-time at a treatment facility and are monitored and supervised by staff in a secure, drug-free environment. Inpatient treatment is generally more intensive and expensive than outpatient forms of treatment. Although each rehabilitation program is different from the next, there are two primary types of inpatient rehabilitation:
- Short-term programs – Typically, patients spend up to 30 days at a treatment facility undergoing detox, receiving medical attention, abstaining from drugs and alcohol, and attending intensive therapy sessions.
- Long-term programs – Patients may stay in long-term residential treatment for several months to up to a year receiving 24-hour support, supervision, counseling, intensive group and individual therapy, and learning to live without drugs and/or alcohol.
Inpatient rehabilitation may be the right option for those suffering from severe or long-term addiction (which is often the case for those abusing methamphetamines or prescription or synthetic opioids), since patients in these types of programs live in entirely drug-free environments, free from outside distractions and temptations.
It is helpful to do research and understand the treatment strategies, expectations, and policies of any treatment center you plan to attend. It is important that any inpatient program you choose is right for you and meets your individual needs.
Outpatient rehabilitation programs differ from inpatient treatment in that patients undergoing outpatient treatment to not live full-time at a rehabilitation facility. Instead, those receiving outpatient treatment for drug addiction or alcoholism live at home, with family members or friends, or in transitional sober living residencies during the rehabilitation process.
Since outpatient treatment programs tend to be less expensive and less intensive than inpatient rehabilitation, with patients living at home and arriving for treatment on a daily or weekly basis, outpatient rehabilitation tends to last longer than inpatient treatment, and may continue on an ongoing basis in some cases. Patients undergoing outpatient treatment are typically required to attend regular medical and mental health check-ups and submit to periodic urine, blood, or breathalyzer tests since they are not monitored on a full-time basis as they would be in inpatient rehabilitation.
There are a variety of types of outpatient rehabilitation programs, and which program is right for you will depend on a variety of factors. These factors include the severity and duration of your addiction, whether or not you need to be medically monitored during detox and withdrawal, and your individual needs and preferences. Although outpatient treatment differs substantially from program to program and is unique at each facility, a few of the most common types of outpatient treatment are listed below:
- Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP) – This type of treatment is designed for individuals who require substantial medical supervision during rehabilitation, but who have a supportive and safe environment at home. Patients typically sleep at home but attend treatment every day or most days per week for a minimum of 4-6 hours and undergo therapy, medical and mental health check-ups, and attend support groups.
- Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP) – These programs share some similarities with inpatient rehabilitation programs, incorporating intensive therapy, support groups, and professional supervision with a focus on relapse avoidance. Patients typically spend nights at home and attend treatment for several hours at least three days per week, and sometimes daily.
- Counseling and Therapy – This kind of treatment is typically accompanied by other treatment strategies, and may be recommended to patients following a stay at an inpatient rehabilitation facility or following outpatient treatment. Therapy and counseling allow recovering individuals to untangle the complex underlying causes of their addictions, learn coping skills, and repair broken or damaged relationships.
As is the case with any kind of rehabilitation treatment, it is important to consider your unique needs, circumstances, and wishes prior to choosing a treatment type and program. Although inpatient treatment is often the best option for those with severe or long-lasting addictions, outpatient rehabilitation may be the right choice for those with less severe addictions or for those who cannot commit to an inpatient stay.
Aftercare and Sober Living
Although most inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation programs have an end date, recovery from drug or alcohol addiction is an ongoing process and a lifelong endeavor for most people. Recovery does not end with discharge, but is a continuous process of renewed dedication, coping, and self-acceptance. The first few days, weeks, and months following the conclusion of an inpatient or outpatient treatment program are of the utmost importance. It is during this period that recovering individuals are most vulnerable to a potential relapse, and re-entering the community can be emotionally and physically draining for many people, particularly those who have undergone inpatient treatment.
For most people, aftercare is an important component of ongoing recovery and continued sobriety. Having a plan for aftercare has been shown to significantly minimize the risk of relapse. There are a wide variety of resources and aftercare program options available to those transitioning out of organized rehabilitation and back to everyday life. Many people find that maintaining a strong and supportive group of peers who have also suffered from addiction and been through treatment can be very helpful during the difficult times.
As is the case when choosing an inpatient or outpatient treatment program, it is important to make sure you consider your individual needs, circumstances, and preferences when deciding on an aftercare plan. Many people choose to participate in some combination of the following as part of their aftercare strategy:
- Ongoing outpatient treatment, including partial hospitalization programs (PHP) and intensive outpatient programs (IOP)
- Sober living homes (sometimes referred to as “halfway houses”)
- Ongoing individual or group therapy
- Couples or family therapy
- 12 step programs
- Local or online support groups
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Pharmaceutical treatments
Although the path to recovery is different for everyone, you do not have to walk your path alone. At any stage in the recovery process, whether you have just been discharged from treatment or you have been sober for decades, it is always helpful to reach out for help and renew your dedication to sober living and recovery.