Located in San Bernardino County, Ontario, California (population 169,089) is just 35 miles east of Los Angeles. Ontario is home to the Ontario International Airport – the 15th busiest cargo airport in the US — which handles the bulk of freight traffic between Los Angeles/Long Beach and the rest of the country. The Ontario International Airport is also the largest employer in Ontario
Due to Ontario being a major hub for passengers and freight, there are also several major highways and freeways which run through it. I-10 runs east-west, and I-15 runs north-south. Ontario also has an AmTrack station, and a MetroLink station which connects Ontario with the greater LA area, Orange County, and the San Fernando Valley.
Ontario’s presence as a freight traffic hub of the West Coast presents itself as a prime opportunity for drug trafficking and drug related gang activity. As a response, San Bernardino County sheriffs office have created a task force with representatives from the DEA, Parcel Interdiction, Marijuana Eradication and High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area of the LA Region. Additionally, Local law enforcement officers have been divided into two groups; street and mid-level teams. These task forces have been assigned to investigations of the top-ranking members of criminal street gangs, and dismantling drug trafficking and distribution rings.
The remaining officers have been assigned to task forces to investigate major manufacture/distribution organizations and smuggling rings. There are numerous benefits of task forces, but primarily they are developed to allow a number of agencies to pool their resources to effectively attack a common problem.
The Southern California Drug Task Force conducts complex investigations targeting both national and international narcotic trafficking organizations. The parcel interdiction task force works to combat drug trafficking efforts where the parcel business is concerned within San Bernardino County, inspecting commercialized shipping companies and transportation businesses.
Perhaps due to these local efforts, California’s opioid death rates are among the lowest in the nation, but they do continue to climb. Addiction to opiates typically starts with legally prescribed pain killers, but when the prescription runs out or the user can no longer attain the pain killers, they often turn to the more accessible and often cheaper form — heroin. In Southern California, Black Tar heroin is the most prevalent form. It’s estimated that California’s lower opioid death rates may be ascribed to the fact that it’s harder to cut Black Tar heroin with Fentanyl, as opposed to other types of heroin. Fentanyl is an opiate that can be up to 100x more potent than morphine, according to the CDC.
While California’s opiate statistics may be lower than other parts of the country, drug and alcohol abuse are still major and growing problems. From 2013-2014, alcohol and other drug-related treatment admissions in San Bernardino County grew by 10% overall, with a 29% rise in admissions for alcohol abuse alone. San Bernardino County also saw a 26% rise in admissions for those seeking help with methamphetamine abuse. There were also more alcohol-related collisions in 2014, marking a 10% rise, while alcohol-related accidents declined by 1% state-wide that year. Deaths caused by chronic liver disease and cirrhosis associated with alcohol and substance abuse worsened over the preceding 5 years, and San Bernardino County has seen more of these deaths than the state average.
Most commonly abused Drugs in Ontario and Greater San Bernardino County include:
- Prescription Pills
- Black Tar Heroin
While alcohol consumption is legal and part of many Americans lives, it poses a great threat to those who become addicted. It is estimated that 29.1% of Americans have experienced varying degrees of alcohol use disorders in their lifetime.
Alcohol abuser can be identified as those who:
- No longer engage in social activities they used to find interesting
- Feel powerless over their alcohol consumption
- Use alcohol in high-risk situations, such as driving
- Experience strong cravings for alcohol when they’re not drinking
- Experience problems in their personal lives due to drinking
- Experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms when not drinking, including shaking, sweating, cravings, nausea (also called “the DT’s”)
- Allocate substantial amounts of money and resources to drinking
- May or may not hide their drinking from those closest to them, or drink in private
- Develop a tolerance to alcohol, needing more and more to achieve the same affect.
Those who abuse alcohol may display certain physical and behavioral red flags, such as:
- Slow reactions
- Trouble articulating – slurred speech
- Risky behavior and lowered inhibitions (ie drunk driving and unprotected sex)
- Blackouts or memory impairment
- Appearing intoxicated at inappropriate times, such as work or family functions
- Experiencing financial problems, due to money spend on and while under the influence of alcohol
- Increased legal troubles due to issues such as assault, theft, property damage, or drunk driving.
In addition to legal, financial and relationship problems, alcohol can also have severe or even fatal physical consequences. Prolonged alcohol abuse can effect the brain, liver, kidneys and heart, as well as present issues such as cirrhosis and alcoholic hepatitis.
More on the topic of Binge Drinking.
If you or someone you know struggles with alcohol abuse, call us today. We’re here to help you get back on the road to a sober and healthy life.
Methamphetamines are one of the most commonly abused, and deadly illicit substances in Ontario and greater San Bernardino County. This man-made stimulant is incredibly addictive, often becoming habit forming after just one or two uses. Meth releases high amounts of the pleasure-inducing chemical dopamine, which sends reward signals to the brain each time it’s used. Since the substance releases more dopamine than is naturally occurring in the brain, meth users quickly find that they feel more pleasure from using meth than doing anything else. Because of this, those who abuse methamphetamines will stop at nothing to get their next fix, as life without the drug becomes dull and often uncomfortable.
While Mexican criminal groups maintain a small percentage of the methamphetamine labs in San Bernardino County, their laboratories are responsible for the largest scale of production. Nearly 95% of all methamphetamines available in this area are due to Mexican criminal groups trafficking, while the rest are mostly from small “one pot” operations. These criminal groups are also responsible for the majority of drug-related violent crimes in Ontario and the surrounding area, due to “turf wars” with more localized gangs.
Although the vast majority of meth is produced by Mexican groups, those with home laboratories for personal use are at risk of serious injury or death, not only for using the drug, but due to the dangers of producing it. Meth labs are full of toxic chemicals that, when combined, may cause explosions or fires, not to mention inhaling these chemicals can be harmful to ones health. Methamphetamines have also been directly related to domestic abuse, violence, homicide and theft.
Ontario is a transshipment point for methamphetamines produced not only locally, but also in Mexico. The substance is shipped all over the country via interstates 5, 10, 15, 40, and 405. They also utilize personal couriers on commercial airlines, as well as private vehicles to traffic illicit substances.
Methamphetamine is so common not only due to it’s highly addictive qualities, but also because of it’s availability and inexpensiveness.
Telltale signs of meth abuse include:
- Rotting teeth (also referred to as “meth mouth”)
- Scratching or picking at the skin – due to a feeling of bugs crawling beneath the surface
- Severe weight loss due to lack of appetite
- Sores, accesses, scabs and/or acne
- Delusions and/or confusion
- Droopy or aging skin
Meth users are likely to engage in risky behavior which may have lifelong heath and legal consequences. These behaviors include trading sex for drugs or money and sharing needles which exposes them to HIV and hepatitis.
There is help for those looking to start on the path to recovery from methamphetamine use. Give us a call today.
The first step to every treatment program is to undergo an assessment or evaluation to determine if physical or psychological dependence or addiction is present. Assessments can be valuable in determining if treatment is needed, and if so, what type of treatment is most appropriate. Many self-assessments are available online, but programs also perform assessments on site. Seeing a treatment professional in person can provide you with insights online assessments cannot.
Pre-Intake interviews involve a deeper assessment into the individuals lifestyle, and the grip addiction may have on them. Pre-intake evaluations can include questions that probe deeper into:
- Types of substances being used
- Abuse habits, such as how the substance is being ingested
- Length and frequency of use
- Past treatment and recovery attempts
- Stressors in ones life
- Living situations
- Employment or school situations
- Family and spousal relations
- Medical history and conditions occurring as a result of substance abuse
- Mental health conditions, including co-occurring disorders such as depression, anxiety, OCD, ADHD, post traumatic stress, etc.
Some facilities conduct pre-intake interviews over the phone, while others prefer to do them in person. It is incredibly important to answer all the questions asked during pre-intake honestly, as they will help healthcare professionals determine the best method of treatment for you as an individual. Research has shown that those who have a treatment program that is tailored to their needs are more likely to stick with it, improving chances of maintaining sobriety long-term.
During the pre-intake interview, you may ask any questions you have regarding treatment costs and insurance coverage. It is also the time to ask what is allowed to bring with you to the facility, what the typical duration of treatment is, and to make travel arrangements to the facility if necessary.
During the intake process, you will meet with healthcare professionals such as a doctor, psychologist or psychiatrist, and/or a counselor or therapist. This will give intake professionals a chance to more closely examine if and how substance abuse has affected your physical health. A mental health screening may also be performed at this time, in order to diagnose or review any co-occurring disorders that may contribute to the addiction. During the intake process that you’ll be officially admitted to the substance abuse treatment program. At this time, ask any remaining clarifying questions you may have about the treatment facility, your addiction, and what will be expected of you during your enrollment.
Detoxification is the first major step to recovery. This is the process of ridding and cleansing the body of all illicit substances and becoming sober. Your treatment plan may involve detoxing in a detox facility, a hospital, or a home detox. Depending on the substances involved, it can be a good idea to detox under the supervision and care of medical or detox professionals. Most addicts experience withdrawal symptoms during detox that are moderate to severe. Withdrawal occurs when the drug or drugs are leaving the system, and the body starts craving more. Experiencing withdrawal is often what leads addicts to relapse and begin using again, so it is recommended to start a treatment immediately after or during detox, before the opportunity to use again presents itself. While detox is different for every person and every substance, there are certain symptoms that are commonly experienced, depending on the drug, length and frequency of use.
The detox timeline for alcohol abuse typically begins about 8 hours after the last drink, and peaks around the 24-72 hour mark. Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal may include anxiety, tremors, depression, brain fog, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, heart palpitations, sweating, irritability, and extreme cases, hallucinations, seizures, fever, and severe confusion. The most extreme form of alcohol withdrawal is Delirium Tremens, or the DTs. This typically starts 2-5 days after the last drink is imbibed, and is involves uncontrollable shaking, fever, high blood pressure, and hallucinations. The DTs can be fatal, so admittance to a detox facility for those suffering from alcohol abuse is highly recommended.
Methamphetamine has a long-lasting high, often up to eight hours. Once the user starts to come down or detox, withdrawal symptoms start to appear. Most users will start to seek their next fix as soon as these symptoms begin to present themselves, but those determined to recover from meth addiction will find that successful detoxification will set them on the right path. Methamphetamine withdrawal symptoms may include:
- Muscle weakness
- Increased appetite
- Fatigue or tiredness
- Muscle pain
- Lack of motivation
While there are no specific prescriptions designated to take away these intense symptoms, staff at a detox facility may prescribe medications such as anti-depressants to help alleviate specific issues.
There are two major types of treatment recommended for substance abuse. The first and most intensive form is Inpatient Treatment. These facilities provide patients with 24/7 supervision and care. Inpatient treatment is recommended for those with severe addictions, due to the immediate immersion one gets into sober living. In an inpatient program, patients are free to focus on their recovery without the distraction and stress of family, relationships, and work, as well as the temptation to use again by those who may encourage that type of behavior. Many treatments also focus on dual-diagnosis or co-occurring disorders, such as bi-polar, depression, anxiety, and OCD, offering specialized groups for those dealing with those disorders.
Residential Treatment Centers (RTC)
Residential Treatment Centers, or RTC’s are the most intensive form of treatment, and as such are often recommended for those addicted to highly addictive drugs such as methamphetamines. Residential Treatment Centers are live-in facilities which provide round-the-clock care and safe, supportive, drug-free living environments. This allows the patient to focus solely on their recovery, free of distractions from their home, work, and outside relationships.
While enrolled in an Residential Treatment Center, the patient may take part in group and individual therapy, including 12 step programs. There may also be specialized therapy for co-occurring illnesses, family or relationship counseling, psychiatric visits, spiritual sessions, and physical exercise. Each facility is different, and the length of time one may expect to stay in an RTC varies from around 30 days to 12 months. Contact with the outside world including family, friends and significant others is typically limited or prohibited to ensure immersion and focus on recovery and the removal of temptation and stress that often leads to relapse.
Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP)
Partial Hospitalization Programs are similar to RTC’s in that the patient spends the majority of their time at the facility, but in PHPs patients are permitted to go home at night. This type of facility provides a safe, structured environment, while still allowing the patient to maintain independence and accountability in their communities. PHP’s are a good option for those who have familial obligations and/or supportive home environments, or are transitioning from a more intensive Residential Treatment
In this type of treatment, you may expect hours of group and individual therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, family or couples therapy, and social skills counseling. Physical exercise may be encouraged, and spiritual or religious practices may be available.
Inpatient programs have proven to be the most successful form of treatment, but aren’t available or practical for everyone. Outpatient services are another great choice for those looking to get sober. Whatever form of treatment you decide on will likely involve several hours of group and/or individual therapy per day, and may also encourage physical exercise, spiritual programs, and social or educational programs.
The second common form of treatment centers is Outpatient Treatment. While this option is still focused on achieving and maintaining sobriety, it’s a less intensive option. Outpatient treatments are appropriate for those who have a strong support system at home, need to maintain employment or education outside of rehab, cannot attend an inpatient program for financial reasons, or are stepping down from a more involved form of inpatient treatment program. Because of the personal freedom and lessened supervision of outpatient programs, the patient must have a strong desire for recovery. There is more of an emphasis on personal accountability in outpatient programs, and many addicts find it difficult to maintain sobriety in these types of treatment if it is their first attempt at recovery.
Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP)
Intensive Outpatient Programs are the most involved form of outpatient therapy, typically requiring the patient to be present for individual and/or group therapy for between 10-12 hours per week. IOP allows the individual freedom of participating in their daily activities such as school or work, fitting their hours of treatment in around their daily obligations either in the morning or evening. Typical IOPs encourage active involvement in 12-step programs in addition to the participation of IOP therapy. Intensive Outpatient Programs can be recommended as an aftercare step for those who have already completed a more intensive form of treatment or detox facility as a way to re-integrate as a sober member of their community.
Treatment is just one step on the long road to recovery. Aftercare can be viewed as a continued step which follows the period of acute inpatient or outpatient treatment. Those who have undergone intensive treatments find that having an aftercare program in place helps to prevent relapse and get back to living a sober, healthy life. Aftercare programs may involve less intensive outpatient programs, specialized group or individual therapies, 12-step programs, etc. These options help maintain sobriety even as the temptations to relapse may occur. Research has shown that those who take advantage of aftercare programs have reduced rates of relapse.
Sober living is a recommended and natural step after a patient leaves a treatment facility. Sober living environments or “half-way houses” are homes or networks of homes that encourage and require it’s residents to remain sober and vigilant on the path to long-term recovery. Sober living homes are highly structured environments in which all members of the community are recovering addicts that support and hold each other accountable. Sober living homes typically have house rules that all members must live by. These rules may include:
- No overnight guests, including family
- Random drug testing
- Commitment to chores
- Must contribute to the community/household
- Adherence to a 12 step of individualized recovery program.
Most sober living homes involve a “zero-tolerance” rule, meaning that if any of the rules are broken, the offending member may no longer reside in that environment. These rules are put in place to keep every member of the sober living community healthy, safe, and on the road to recovery. It is beneficial for recovering addicts to live among fellow recovering addicts, as they are able to relate to the struggles and successes of addiction and sobriety. In this type of sober environment, they can learn to manage real-world triggers and temptations, while having a built-in support system at home.
If you or someone you know needs help with substance abuse addiction, please call us today.