Rialto, California Drug Crisis
The national impact of drug and alcohol abuse has also affected smaller cities in the nation like Rialto, California. With a population a little over 100,000, Rialto, as part of San Bernardino County, has seen an increase in alcohol and drug related admissions to treatment centers. In the past year, alcohol and drug admissions to county treatment centers rose by ten percent, led by a twenty-nine percent growth in admissions specifically for alcohol abuse. Over the last five years, admissions have increased fifteen percent led by a twenty-nine percent growth in admissions for meth addiction.
For seeking help in Rialto were never reached. Fatal overdoses and deaths related to drug and alcohol use continues to take lives. In a two-year period, over three-hundred people died due to drug overdoses in San Bernardino County. Heroin deaths have continued to increase steadily by 67 percent since 2006 and account for a growing number of the total opioid-related deaths in the region. Along with deaths from overdose, auto fatalities related to alcohol continue to grow. In one year there were 1,073 alcohol-involved serious collisions in San Bernardino County compared to 16,960 in California overall.
Why an Opioid Crisis?
A report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that 66 percent of the people who abuse prescription drugs did not receive the drug from a physician. They usually borrowed the drugs from a friend or family member, stole them or purchased them online. As a result, the sudden absence of the availability of prescription meds leads addicts to the less expensive heroin available on the streets. Increasing tolerance eventually leads to the risk of overdose as many addicts switch to potent drug combinations of illegal street meds and heroin to get high.
Why an Alcohol Abuse Crisis?
In a survey of youth throughout San Bernardino County, nearly twenty-five percent of felt that binge drinking, which is defined as drinking five or more alcoholic drinks at the same location on at least one day was not a dangerous practice. In California, the rate of residents over the age of 11 who were considered to suffer from an alcohol abuse or dependency in 2012-2013 was slightly higher than the national average at 7.3 percent as compared to 6.7 percent. The impact of binge drinking causes deaths from alcohol positioning as well as fatal car accidents and crimes related to alcohol abuse.
In 2006, alcohol abuse was estimated to cost the state of California close to $32 billion, which was the fifth highest cost per capita among US states. These costs include lost workplace productivity, legal costs, criminal justice costs and healthcare costs. That means that in 2006, one drink cost the California economy $2.44 or $1,165 per capita.
California Fights Back
Using the Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System, or CURES, California lawmakers are trying their best to control the excessive over-prescription of narcotic medications. Pharmacists are now required to enter into the database any customers who receive potentially addictive drugs.
In addition to local government efforts, The Community Coalition of Rialto was formed by representatives from a collection of health service agencies and community and faith-based organizations as well as concerned residents to fight drug and alcohol abuse in the region. However, it is the action of those who notice a loved one addicted to drugs and alcohol that matters most.
How Drug and Alcohol Addiction Shows Itself
Knowing when addiction has become part of a loved one’s life usually begins with telltale signs. Often, they become a person that is unrecognizable. They exhibit strange and unexpected mood swings, often veering from extreme happiness to sobbing uncontrollably. They also seem confused and unable to perform fundamental tasks. Their speech will become incoherent at times. Their sleep patterns will become erratic, often longer periods awake followed by longer periods asleep.
Socially, they will become more withdrawn from family and secretive in their behavior. Everything that tied them to responsibility is let go, from work and school to personal relationships. Their own hygiene and personal appearance will also begin to diminish as they lose interest in how they look. They will regularly appear high with a distant look in their eyes.
The Myths about Drug Addiction
Many mistaken assumptions made by addicts and even those who wish to help them can lead to the avoidance of seeking help. Many of these misconceptions can be the greatest obstacle to recovery. Whether an addict, or someone seeking to help an addicted individual, having the right information is critical.
Myth: Addicts need will-power to beat addiction. Only weak people are addicted to drugs and alcohol.
No matter how strong an individual’s will, addiction can become both a physical and psychological condition. Believing that failure to quit substance abuse is a personal failure only escalates abuse and may lead to both the addict and their loved ones giving up.
Myth: Addiction is a chronic disease, so there is nothing that can be done.
It is true that addiction is a disease, but there is always hope. By taking an aggressive position on getting well with the help of recovery centers and the support of loved ones, the addicted can find recovery.
Myth: Addicts have to hit rock bottom before they can really recover from addiction.
Rock bottom is actually the worse place for anyone addicted to find themselves. That means their tolerance to drugs and alcohol has increased and they are that much closer to overdose and possibly death. Treatment should begin as soon as possible, regardless of how severe the addiction or how long the individual has been abusing substances.
Myth: No one can help an addict. They have to help themselves.
Though personal commitment is essential for successful treatment, the support and intervention of loved ones is also meaningful to helping an addicted person seek treatment. Often, because no one else cares, neither do they.
Myth: They have failed at rehab, so it isn’t worth trying again.
Initial attempts at recovery may fail. Many addicts will sign themselves out of recovery centers and slip back into drug and alcohol use. But that does not mean all hope should be abandoned. It may take frequent attempts for recovery to work. Also, different approaches to treatment may be more effective than others.
Myth: Only certain kinds of drugs are really addictive.
Though some addictive drugs may be more dangerous, addiction can come from any type of substance, including alcohol. Underestimating the impact drugs and alcohol can have is often how addiction starts.
The First Steps: Intake into Rehab
Once an addict accepts treatment, in take will be the first step in the process. Intake into rehab will include certain tests to better understand the individual and treatment options.
Testing begins with a physical exam to determine personal health. This test will also help make sure that the individual is physically healthy enough to move onto detox. If there are other medical issues such as heart disease, high cholesterol or diabetes, these conditions must make up a part of the treatment plan that recovery specialists define.
Doctors will take cognitive ability and memory tests to estimate the ability of the individual to learn and remember. Drugs and alcohol can impair the mind long-term. Also pre-existing psychological conditions may be a part of an individual’s makeup. If so, then modifications to treatment are necessary.
Toxicology screenings estimates the type and number of certain drugs and alcohol that are in the user’s system. A combination of drugs and alcohol being used is not uncommon and treatment will be defined by the complexity of the addiction.
With the data gained from both interviews and medical tests, physicians, psychotherapists and recovery specialists will team up to decide on a treatment plan that fits that person. They will also discuss if the individual is ready for the next stage of treatment. Often other conditions must be treated first before drug addiction can be treated. Also, the personal commitment of the individual will be evaluated. Is this person prepared for recovery? Rooms at recovery centers are hard to come by as so many people are seeking help. Making sure that the individual is ready to move forward is essential for the success of their treatment.
Recovery specialists will present their course of treatment to the addicted individual. Because drug treatment is never enforced, the individual has the freedom to refuse treatment and leave a recovery facility. The hopes of their loved ones and the staff of any rehab is that the addicted fully grasp the severity of their problem and move forward to get help.
Learning More about Treatment Options
Along with pre-intake testing, the individual waiting to enter recovery will also learn what steps will be involved in the recovery process. Understanding recovery itself is an education that many addicts will come to learn from their recovery specialists. Here are some key insights every patient will learn before entering rehab.
Immediate treatment over waiting for another time. Getting treatment for drug and alcohol addiction as soon as possible can prevent the addiction from becoming worse.
Treatments will be customized. The assumption that one size treatment fits all is a common mistake. Recovery professionals will customize a treatment plan that fits the individual based on several factors including the severity of the addiction and medical makeup.
Mental health plays a part in addiction. Recovery specialists look at the overall mental health of a person. Mental health issues like depression or anxiety may have been a cause of addiction. In fact, the relationship between mental health and substance dependence is often interconnected. More than 8.9 million people nationally are reported to have both mental health and substance abuse disorders occurring at the same time. When treated together, treatments are found to be more effective.
Physical health impacts recovery. Addiction may have caused health issues from liver damage to HIV. These health concerns become a part of the treatment plan as they need to be recognized as a complex component of the recovery process. Also, other medical conditions such as managing a heart condition make treatment more complex.
Detox is not the only step to recovery. Many addicted individuals come to rehab thinking they get to leave right after the detox process. This is just the first step. Inpatient and outpatient programs are the long-term solution to drug and alcohol addiction recovery.
Understanding family and addiction. Many addictions start at home either because another family member is abusing drugs or alcohol or the household regularly experiences many stresses which lead to addictive behavior. Helping the family recover along with the addict may become an important part of the treatment plan.
Medications are often used in treatment. Medicines that help with the recovery process can ease withdrawals during detox or help reduce drug and alcohol cravings long-term and during aftercare.
Understanding the Detox Timeline
Detox is a process that begins after the last dose of a drug is taken or the last drink of alcohol. The process of enduring the long days and nights of withdrawals and cravings follows.
The addicted will experience severe cramping and nausea. Trembling and difficulty breathing will persist. Diarrhea and vomiting will occur. Agitation and anxiety may become the constant 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 the drug will return. The body will continue its violent response with nausea and vomiting. Cramping, especially stomach cramps, will be common. Feelings of depression start to set in. The risk of suicide is common as is the potential of abandoning treatment and lapsing back into drug and alcohol use increases. The recovery center specialists are there to monitor the detox process and protect the recovering addict.
1 Week and Beyond
Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome and Anhedonia
Post-acute withdrawal syndrome is the compound of symptoms that occur long after the detox process is completed. During this period, the recovering addict experiences the greatest urges to relapse into drug and alcohol use, not only to get high, but simply to feel well again. Deep depression and difficulty thinking clearly make every day hard. A common phenomenon is a condition called anhedonia, which is the inability to feel pleasure. Without the drug or alcohol in the bloodstream to evoke joy, the recovering cannot feel 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 drugs and alcohol and see the lasting benefits of a sober life.
Comparing Inpatient Residential Treatment and Outpatient Treatment
After detox, long-term inpatient treatment is usually the next step. But there are options. Inpatient residential treatment is beneficial for most addicts with a severe addiction to drugs and alcohol, but outpatient is also an option for milder cases. The options must be evaluated by a recovery specialist to determine what works best.
Why Choose Inpatient?
- Round the clock support from medical, psychological and counseling professionals
- A safe drug and alcohol-free environment without the temptations that exists in the outside world
- The company of other recovering addicts and alcoholics who can offer their support through group sessions
- Additional support for wellness including therapies for diet and exercise available while recovering in the center
- The immediate availability of specialists when problems arise including medical and relapse issues
Why Choose Outpatient?
- Flexibility to continue with work and school while receiving treatment
- The option to explore other types of therapeutic treatment that fits the individual’s personality and personal needs
- Less stigma than inpatient residential treatment
- Best for milder forms of addiction
Outpatient treatment can be an alternative to inpatient for certain types of recovering individuals. For milder forms of addiction, where the patient is still able to go to work or school, outpatient offers the option so they do not need to interrupt normal life. Many outpatient sessions can occur during the evenings or on the weekend.
Outpatient is also the next step for patients who have successfully completed inpatient care. Through outpatient, recovering individuals learn to re-enter the sober world while still receiving support at outpatient sessions. Outpatient also offers the opportunity for new and customized therapy options that can accommodate different needs for different individuals managing recovery.
More on Inpatient vs. Outpatient here.
Faith-Based Therapy Options
The use of spiritual healing through outpatient is emphasized with this approach along with traditional treatment. For recovering addicts with a strong devotion to God, this approach combines faith with professional therapy. Bible study and prayer become tools utilized by the counselor.
Relapse Prevention-Focused Options
For many fending off relapse is the most pressing issue faced in recovery. Some outpatient therapy sessions will focus on relapse prevention to maintain sobriety. In each session, there are exercises for managing triggers and avoiding relapse scenarios. Also, discussions emphasize learning more about one’s own personal triggers to better understand relapse avoidance.
Stress Management Therapy Sessions
For many recovering addicts the stresses of everyday life are the most impactful triggers and the most likely to cause for relapse. Stress management therapy sessions help these individuals by teaching them how handle stressful situations from work and school to an argument with a spouse without slipping back into drugs and alcohol.
Skill Development Learning
Many basic skills may have never been learned or have been forgotten over the duration of addiction. The goal of these specialized groups is to build up these basic skills. Normal social interaction, managing personal finance and handling responsibility become every day exercises learned and practiced. In some instances, especially among teen addicts, these skills may have never been acquired due to the early adoption of drugs and alcohol into their lives. Research has shown that frustrations due to not being able to adapt to sober world activities are one of the most common causes of relapse, which has made skill development so important.
Many addictions are rooted in family. A family history of drug and alcohol use needs to be dealt with in order for a recovering addict to adjust to a sober world. The negative impact of an addicted family member can trigger relapse. Family therapy helps introduce those family members to recovery options.
How Twelve Step Programs Can Change a Life After Treatment
Whatever treatment option is pursued, at some point a recovering addict will encounter a twelve-step program. Many of the therapy sessions described, will implement a twelve-step style approach to the treatment. This type of therapy has become an essential tool in drug and alcohol addiction treatment for both impatient residential and outpatient approaches. In aftercare, a twelve-step program will focus on spiritual and psychological healing to help build the spirit and the mind against the influence of relapse. Using attainable goals as the basis for long-term sobriety, twelve step programs offer hope for recovering addicts.
Twelve step programs have continued to help recovering addicts maintain sobriety for years after treatment. Even when there is a relapse, twelve step groups have assisted many recovering addicts through the slip and have gotten them back on the track to sobriety.
Sober Living After Addiction
For the recovering, whether it be drugs or alcohol, sobriety must become the ultimate personal mission. The struggle to maintain sobriety is however very difficult. Relapse is always a threat and triggers abound in daily life that remind any addict that drugs and alcohol are a solution to their problems.
Triggers are those impulsive memories of drug use that stimulate urges. Many common triggers include locations where drugs or alcohol were purchased or a place where drugs were commonly used or alcohol was consumed. Triggers can also be family or friends who, without realizing it, may say things or do things that stimulate a craving. Also dally stresses may be a trigger that make a recovering addict feel overwhelmed. Understanding triggers, knowing when they appear, and knowing how to handle them are the method recovering addicts have found to continue a healthy and sober life.