Opioid Overdoses in Sacramento County, Elk Grove, California
Waves of opioid deaths have swept through Sacramento County cities like Elk Grove. Prescription painkillers like fentanyl that is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine is leading to massive overdoses. Those seeking help with addiction were at 2.6 million across the county. This number is just a fraction of the population of 23.5 million people who reported needing treatment for drug abuse in the area, which means only 11 percent of the Sacramento County area is getting the help it needs.
The impact of opioid use is not limited to any race or age. Caucasian patients amount for most of the recorded cases at 45.6 percent. African Americans and Hispanics make up 24.3 and 21.5 percent, respectively. Half of all admissions to recovery facilities came from adults aged 25 to 44 years. Alarmingly the second largest group is 17 and younger, meaning opioid addiction is quickly becoming a problem among Elk Grove, California youth.
Attempts are being made by local government to get prescription drugs off the streets using drop-off programs. By encouraging adults to properly dispose of prescription medications at home, cities like Elk Grove can prevent these drugs from falling into the hands of Sacramento County youth. The rapidity with which addiction escalates from recreational use of prescription pills found in a parent’s medicine cabinet is a contributing factor to the increasing impact that opioids are having on this community. For those suffering from addiction, there is hope.
Drug and alcohol use continue to be significant concerns for Sacramento County and Elk Grove residents. The good news is, no matter where you live, help is available for overcoming addiction and improving your life. Find substance abuse treatment in Sacramento easily by giving us a call.
Identifying a Drug Addiction Before it gets Worse
Assessing when a teenage child or even an adult is slipping into addiction requires observation of behaviors and a willingness to accept that a problem is looming. The worst possible reaction by anyone dealing with a drug addicted individual is to hope they get better on their own, call it a phase, or simply refuse to accept that this could be a problem in the family. Acceptance leads to a clear-minded assessment. This is what to look for.
When Being High is Normal
Whether it is drugs or alcohol, when an addicted individual needs the substance to function properly then there is a problem. Inability to perform the normal patterns of a sober life, indicate that the drug of choice has overtaken the individual. Normal thinking and actions are only possible when the drug is ingested. Tolerance levels build and a person may not even appear high, which only compounds the problem.
Unable to Quit
When an addicted individual makes a concerted effort to quit again and again, and finds themselves back taking the drug, then they clearly need help. The biggest roadblock to much addiction is the belief of the addicted individual that they are too weak to function without the drug. Only education can help an addict understand that drugs are a physical and psychological addiction that requires the professional assistance of recovery centers to overcome. Their strength lies in seeking help.
Drugs Make a Financial Impact
The increase in spending on drugs to the point where other fiscal responsibilities are sacrificed is another clear indicator that the addicted is slipping deeper into addiction and away from the common needs of a sober life. Theft, selling personal possessions and borrowing money to meet the demands of the addiction are signs that the drug is overtaking the addicted individual.
Risky Behavior Increases
The normal ability to risk-assess any situation decreases as drugs reduce inhibitions and make recklessness easier. Choices like driving under the influence of drugs, willingness to resort to physical violence in a conflict, and attempting crimes like shoplifting begin to occur more frequently. Psychologically, the addicted individual may not even see the risky behavior as being connected to drugs. Being arrested, having frequent car accidents or personal injury in the mind of the drug-addicted person are often attributed to bad luck.
Social Responsibilities Fall to the Wayside
Drugs create a self-absorbing circle, drawing the addicted person deeper into usage. The increase causes a deepening disregard for all other normal sober activities like work, school or friends. Family is quickly forgotten and even romantic relationships take a backseat to the next high.
The First Step to Recovery: Pre-intake
The pre-intake process takes all factors into account when a person seeking help for addiction first arrives at a recovery center. Pre-intake is not a test to decide whether an individual will receive treatment. Rather it is a method to create a clear profile of the addicted individual so the best treatment can be provided. Here is what to expect during pre-intake.
-A physical exam will determine if the drug addiction has caused physical harm as well as determine if other medical conditions are present that may make drug treatment more complex.
-A psychological evaluation determines if drugs are causing hallucinations, depression or other mental disorders. The evaluation will also test to see if pre-existing psychological disorders may impact drug treatment.
-Cognition testing discerns how drugs are affecting thinking, decision-making and other thought processes.
-Toxicology tests will see what drugs and how much of any drug is currently driving addiction.
The Intake Process: Rewiring the Addicted Brain
The intake process involves constructing a customized plan to help the addicted person change back to a sober life. This process may involve medications, therapy and especially the personal commitment of the addicted to achieve sobriety. This change requires a transformation of spirit, mind and body toward a sober outlook. That new perspective begins with an education on dependency.
-Treatment now, not later. The sooner an addicted person starts treatment, the sooner they can reach recovery.
-One size does not fit all. Every treatment is customized, so a combination of strategies proposed by a recovery professional will fit that individual based on their pre-intake assessment.
-Getting to the deep-rooted cause. The source of addiction needs to be realized for treatment to be successful. Learning family history and personal life will be critical in determining what initiated the choice of drugs.
-Addressing mental health. Mental health issues can complicate drug treatment. Defining mental health disorders from addictive disorders becomes one of the goals of a recovery specialist.
-Addressing physical health. Is the patient physically prepared for recovery? Any medical issues must be discerned before drug treatment can begin.
–Detox is not the only step. Sometimes an addicted person may think that the detox stage is all there is to getting off drugs. Drug rehab is a long process that only begins with detoxification.
-The importance of family. The involvement of family in recovery is helpful in both healing past wounds between family members and determining if any of the deep-rooted causes of addiction started at home.
-Medications can make a difference. Many new prescribed medications can help the detox process. Depending on mental and physical fitness, some may be used as part of treatment.
-Personal commitment is key. If the addicted person feels like he or she is being forced into treatment, it may not work. The addicted individual must be at a point where they desire to be free of drugs. Only with this determination can long-term sobriety be achieved.
The Detox Process
The process of ridding the body of the physical addiction to drugs can be dangerous, which is why it is never recommended that a person attempt detox independently. Recovery professionals can administer drugs to help ease the painful symptoms of detox. They can also monitor the progress of this important step in rehab. They will look for medical reactions they can be serious. They also provide the moral support needed for the addicted person to move on to the next stage of recovery.
The Feeling of Withdrawals
The body will fight back against the absence of drugs. Generally, there will be an overall feeling of “tearing up” as the body rebels against a person’s choice to be free of drugs. Withdrawal symptoms usually occur within a few hours of detox. Symptoms may include:
- Extreme tension
- Disturbed and fitful sleep
- Extreme nausea
- Muscle pain and stiffness
- Racing heartbeat
Drugs That Help the Detox Process
Depending on the addiction, some medications can reduce cravings and ease the pain of withdrawals. Some of the following medications are used.
- Anti-nausea medications
More on medications used for addiction.
The Long Road to Recovery: Inpatient Treatment
Inpatient begins the process of eliminating drug cravings so that a patient will be drug-free once they leave the facility. Now, with no drugs in their system, an addicted person begins to feel the psychological impact of the absence of addiction. Moodiness and severe depression begin their mental invasion and can coax an addicted person back to drugs just to feel better.
Regular therapy sessions begin to help the patient see a new way without drugs. Time in the facility will also be spend relearning and rethinking how to function as a sober person in everyday life. The disciplined structure of inpatient treatment also helps guide the addicted person slowly towards long-term recovery. There are two types of treatment that may occur.
- Residential Treatment- provides accommodations to the patient as they recover, gradually helping them well past the detox stage.
- Partial Hospitalization-provides for more severe cases a medical scrutiny to ensure a patient will not experience extreme medical reactions to detox such as seizures.
Personal Progress and Outpatient Treatment
Outpatient treatment gradually moves the recovering person back into daily life outside of the recovery facility. Therapy sessions occur less frequently in an outpatient program and it becomes the responsibility of the recovering person to attend these sessions.
There is always the risk of relapse now that the recovering person is outside the protection of the rehabilitation center. Strong, negative influences can lure them back to drugs and a combination of their personal commitment and the help of counselors and others at their therapy sessions can help fend off these temptations.
The Importance of Twelve Step Programs for Aftercare
Regardless of the drug of choice or whether a strategy of inpatient or outpatient care is recommended, the long-term recovery success of the now once-addicted person depends heavily on twelve-step programs.
The Philosophy of Twelve Steps
Twelve-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous are used by seventy-four percent of rehabilitation and drug treatment centers. The basic underlying principle is that addicted people help each other through the recovery process and help each other maintain a life of sobriety.
Most Twelve Step Programs include the following steps:
- Admitting a powerlessness over the drug
- Accept a greater spiritual power than yourself
- Choose to turn to a deeper, spiritual approach to life
- Self-examine without fear
- Admit to the wrongs you have done to yourself and others
- Accept the removal of defects through spiritual healing
- Ask God to remove shortcomings
- Revisit those you have harmed and make amends
- Make direct amends whenever possible
- Continue to take personal inventory and admit to wrongdoing
- Seek salvation through prayer and meditation
- Experience a spiritual awakening
These recovery programs seek to guide the addicted with definitive parameters towards recovery and hopefulness. Drugs move individuals in a circular pattern, while recovery is linear, leading them toward a positive goal.
Renewing Bonds with Family
The addiction cycle often destroys family ties. Parents and siblings have watched a person decay with addiction and have been emotionally damaged by this experience. In addition, many family members out of need for their own personal survival will willingly turn away from the addicted. This painful choice scars the addicted with feelings of abandonment and continues to harm the family that chooses to abandon. Healing these terrible wounds often begins with periods of family therapy. In these group sessions, family and the addicted will rediscover trust, love and caring.
For a recovering addicted person, the world can be a difficult place. Temptations can come from every corner of life. Advertising on TV promotes a party lifestyle, which conjures memories for the addicted of the freedom and enjoyment of being high. Friends who may lead sober lives may want to party on the weekend. And most importantly, the present life of an addicted person is full of past triggers.
How Triggers Work
Even while leading a sober life, triggers may appear out of nowhere to initiate drug use memories. Triggers are the most common mental lapse to cause a person to even consider drug use again. Some common triggers include:
- The appearance of an old friend who was a partner in drug use. If they are not in recovery, then their temptation is the strongest.
- A street name or intersection. Often a place where drugs were purchased can be a trigger. Just the mention of the location or driving past it can elicit a craving.
- Slang words for the drug of choice. Slang fills the English language and is very much a part of drug culture. Use of terms in movies or among friends can stir up drug-related memories.
More on coping with triggers.
The commitment of the recovering doesn’t have to be a lonely one. They can communicate with counselors and others in their group therapy sessions. Talking through triggers and trigger experiences helps minimize the pressure.
Managing Social Responsibilities
Addiction can reduce the ability to manage everyday life, which means sobriety can be a difficult transition. Coping with family stresses, demands in the workplace and paying bills are magnified in the life of the recovering person. The option to escape back to drugs becomes a strong temptation and the recovering must rely on their counselors and support groups to help them navigate a relapse crisis.
Sober Living Facilities
If a recovering person is resuming life in an environment where drugs are still present, often treatment centers will recommend sober living homes as a viable option. Here, individuals can go about their normal lives of work and school and return to a supportive and positive sober living home. Simply by complying with house rules and remaining sober, a recovering person can find useful and meaningful long-term support through such facilities.
Aftercare and Avoiding Relapse
Because a recovering person’s life has so much potential for relapse, several important factors need to be understood by them. Being aware of these outside influences can help a recovering individual avoid slipping back into drug use.
Taking on Responsibilities One Day at a Time
The eagerness to become “normal” again is a positive for a recovering person, but a life full of responsibilities can be overwhelming. Slowly accepting responsibilities in terms of family and children, work and school are necessary for continuing a sober life. Talking to counselors about what is the best timeline for goals is one solution for easing into the demands of sober living.
Breaking Some Ties, Rebuilding Others
The old stomping ground where a person’s drug use occurred can be a constant draw to the drug life. Old friends still addicted can be a bad influence and even friends who are not addicted but don’t understand the struggle can lead a recovering person down the wrong path. Unfortunately, for a recovering person, ending certain relationships is critical to continuing a healthy life.
In other instances, broken relationships that were healthy once, need to be repaired. Rebuilding those ties with parents, siblings and loved ones is a part of the healing process.
Learning to Communicate
Communicating almost seems fundamental to life, but very few people communicate effectively. Because of not listening or understanding others, resentment rather than compassion rises. Drug use complicates this already complex situation. The recovering person must place extra emphasis on learning to communicate well. Listening to those who have been hurt during their period of addiction can resolve trust issues. Not being resentful of others who do not understand the personal struggle a recovering person must go through is also important. When others fail to understand, a recovering person may slip back into isolation. And when family and friends still hold the grudge from their druggie days, it may seem the situation is hopeless. For these reasons, a recovering person needs to stay committed to communication and find ways of personal resolve through counselors and therapy sessions.
A recovering person can find the greatest solace in appreciating a sober life. The best gift gained from treatment is the journey from painful detox to education and recovery. Knowing the value of what has been achieved is the best way to avoid the pitfalls of relapse.
Seven Points to Extended Sober Living
The ultimate objective of inpatient care and aftercare is long-term sober living of the recovering individual. Though pitfalls will always be present and triggers will always pop up, there is an approach that can help defy the negatives. By living a healthy lifestyle using these seven points as guidance, a recovering person can avoid many of the consequences of relapse.
Build Sober Relationships
The friendships from an addictive lifestyle linger long after a recovering individual achieves sobriety. Breaking these negative relationships, however, leaves a gap. Discovering and associating with those who do not use drugs is one path to a sober life. In many instances, a recovering person establishing new friendships may need to communicate their need for sobriety in the relationship.
Often the greatest friendships are forged in therapy. Other recovering individuals seek the company of like-minded souls by participating in therapy. Already bonds of clear communication have been established and none of those who attend therapy sessions will judge. These relationships can be life-long and meaningful. Most importantly, these friendships are free of the temptations that can cause a relapse.
Changing the Focus to New Activities
When drugs disappear from a life, the recovering individual is left with a boredom vacuum. This emptiness can be just as tempting as a drug addicted friend to lead a recovering person down the path of usage. Replacing drug use activity with other interests fills this gap. They may explore new hobbies, or travel. One of the most meaningful activities that many recovering people find is contributing to charity. As drugs build closed walls of selfishness, sober living can create open arenas of personal engagement and hope. The “feel good” that used to be brought on by drugs can be replaced with the warmth and happiness of giving. This refocus of how time is spent in life helps a recovering person realize that a sober life is worth fulfilling.
Exercise the Body
Lifting spirits away from the downside spiral of addiction becomes easier when healthy physical activities becomes a regular part of the day. New energy levels will be discovered and feelings of well-being and self-confidence become the norm. Physical fitness may also restore personal appearance which may have been taxed by addiction. Exercise is also a way to make sober friends at the gym.
Feed the Mind and Soul
Drug addiction takes away the will to become educated. No book is worth reading and no knowledge is worth knowing. Once sober living is achieved, this all changes. Knowledge makes days meaningful and makes the brain sharp. Knowledge also breeds compassion which drives the spirit to help others.
A junk life with addiction is fed with junk food. Addiction causes individuals to lapse into disrepair and indifference about their health and personal appearance. With sober living as a focus, healthy foods rejuvenate the body, help with weight loss and improve the health of skin.
Addiction fuels poor sleep habits. Either an addict sleeps away the days and nights or if using stimulate type drugs such as amphetamines, spends long periods of time awake. In either instance, the addicted person lives a “crash” lifestyle. Passing out becomes the way one rests. With sober living, regular, sound sleeping rejuvenates the body and mind for a day’s worth of activities. A better mood and alertness replace lethargy. Combined with all the other healthy living points, sleep fully replenishes the body and mind.
What’s Next in Life?
Sober living leaves one of the most important questions open. Now what? With a healthy lifestyle in place and a powerful experience of recovery process as a foundation for the future, a recovering person can do something they could never do on drugs. They can dream. Possibly for the first time, they can have goals and make plans. They can aspire. The value and importance of looking forward to the next day replaces the dread of addiction. Now there is hope.
The impact of rehabilitation on any recovering person who successfully achieves this benchmark is that they can look back at all those who have helped them along the way. There was those in their life who urged them to seek help. They were those during detox that offered support and patience through the crisis of withdrawal. There were those recovery professionals at inpatient care who refused to let them give up, and there were those dedicated counselors in outpatient sessions and others in group therapy who provided support through every day of aftercare. The power of sober living is both the survival of the individual and the ability to see all those through the rehabilitation process that helped them survive.