The United States is seeing a consistent increase in substance abuse statistics, and East Point, Georgia is no exception. This suburb of Atlanta is made up of several neighborhoods like Savannah Walk, Golden Acres, Meadow Lark Estates, The Villages at East Point, Colonial Hills, Jefferson Park, River Park and Eagan Park. Drugs have become such a problem that the neighborhoods of East Point and the surrounding Atlanta metropolitan area has been named as one of 28 High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas that currently exist in the United States.
What is a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area?
A High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) is an area that the United States Federal Government has deemed to be a major source of production or selling of illegal drugs. In these HIDTAs, federal, state and local governments and police forces all work together to eliminate the high drug activity and drug related crime rates in the area. Often times, they conduct undercover sting operations where they lure criminals to them and arrest them on the spot.
East Point and the other areas around Atlanta have become a HIDTA mainly because of their location. Georgia is the perfect “halfway” point between the Mexican border and the Eastern and Northeastern states. If Mexican traffickers can get their supplies to Atlanta via Interstate 20, which ran from West Texas to South Carolina, they can be transported north towards Michigan on Interstate 75 and Interstate 85, which runs from Alabama to Virginia.
Atlanta Drug Statistics
Mexican drug trafficking has made its impact on East Point, but not everything can be blamed on the southern neighbor. Some of the most commonly abused drugs like alcohol, heroine and prescription drugs are produced and distributed within the nation.
Alcohol- Alcohol is the most commonly reported drug abused in the Atlanta area and results in almost half of all admissions to residential treatment facilities.
Marijuana- The number of people seeking treatment for marijuana use has decreased from 17% to 16.3% since 2012, but still remains the most popular drug in the area. This decrease in use could be from the legalization and regulation of medical marijuana in the state of Georgia.
Powder Cocaine and Methamphetamine– Because of the high influx of illegal drugs from Mexico, East Point has a high use rate of both these substances that are being carried into the United States. The use of cocaine is slightly more common and results in almost 10% of all hospitalizations. Methamphetamine, though less common, still accounts for about 6% or treatment and that number continues to rise.
Heroine- Although it is not as common as some other illegal drugs, 4% of of all those who seek treatment have a heroin-related addiction. The most common strain comes from Mexico and has become more popular as drug trafficking has increased.
Prescription Drugs- Oxycodone is the most commonly abused prescription drug in the area and accounts for about 3% of all treatments. While this number has been stabilizing in recent years, hydrocodone usage has been rising at an alarming rate and is expected to surpass oxycodone statistics in the foreseeable future.
Georgia Drug Statistics
As of 2011, Georgia had reported 6.5% of their population abusing some type of non-prescribed, mind altering drugs, making it the state with the highest percentage of users at the time. Many of the state statistics align with the trends seen in East Point and the surrounding areas.
Alcohol– The state sees alcohol as the most commonly abused drug, and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) stated that in 2016, about 15% of all people living in Georgia were regularly abusing alcohol.
Cocaine– After alcohol, the most commonly abused illicit drug is cocaine, more specifically crack cocaine. According to the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) 67% of all rehabilitation admissions throughout the state of Georgia are cocaine related.
Prescription Drugs– The rise of prescription drug abuse in the United States hit Georgia severely in the past fifteen years. It is reported that about 4.5% of Georgians are abusing pain relievers and hospital admissions from opioid abuse grew 1000% in the past decade as the epidemic grows.
Over the past 15 years, hospital admissions due to opioid abuse has grown 1000% as the nation-wide epidemic continues to increase.
Marion Gatley Crisis Intervention Center
Also known as the Intervention Drug Rehab Association, Marion Gatley Crisis Intervention Center (MGA) is known across the country as a credible treatment center with locations in 28 states. Georgia is home to eight convenient locations, on of which is in East Point. There are also four centers just a short drive from East Point and Atlanta.
The assessment process begins by calling MGA at their toll-free number (888)-829-2069 where the patient or patients loved one can get more information about the program and discuss any questions or concerns they may have. There is no charge for this assessment and patients are encouraged to contact MGA and get answers to their questions.
After a patient of the patient’s family contacts MGA, a meeting is scheduled to begin the intake process. This is the time that the patient is able to ask questions to decide whether the type of treatment offered is right for them. A basic exam typically takes place to determine the medical state the person is in to help them begin their best course of treatment.
Following the intake, the patient begins the detoxification process.
The first step towards treatment at MGA is a detoxification process. This take place in a hospital setting where medical professionals are available 24 hours a day. The process typically takes 10 days, but may very depending on the person. Once the detoxification process has been completed, the client is transferred to an addiction treatment center where the remainder of treatment will take place.
MGA also has a shorter detoxification for those who may need more focus on the following treatment and may require less time detoxing. This typically lasts a few days and takes place in the addiction treatment center as opposed to a hospital setting.
Once in the residential facility, treatment lasts 30-days and follows the 12-step program. Clients are required to participate in individual and group therapy while family therapy is available if the client is interested in having their family take part in their treatment process. These types of therapy are also available in outpatient and aftercare treatments
Residential patients are also offered tools to help prepare them for their life of sobriety like life skills classes, addiction classes, and nutritional support to those that need it.
Following the 30-day inpatient treatment, luxury drug rehabilitation is available for those hesitant to transition to their fully-sober lives. This treatment takes place in a home-like environment where patients live with a small group of others. Freedoms and responsibilities are gradually introduced to the patients to help prepare them for a fully-independent life.
Aftercare is an important step in maintaining a sober life following rehabilitation, and MGA has multiple programs in place. Much like the different types of therapies that are offered to residential patients, individual, group and family therapies are offered to patients once they move on to living independently.
Georgia Rehabilitation Outreach, Inc.
Georgia Rehabilitation Outreach (GRO) has an interest in lowering the chronically homeless, crime rates, and hospital admission statistics in Atlanta and the surrounding neighborhoods by addressing and treating substance abuse.
Most patients in the Georgia Rehabilitation Outreach program are referred by an individual or organization who are interested in assisting the chronically homeless. Once referred to the facility, they patient will meet with a team of professionals including psychologists, psychiatrists, and other support staff members.
The intake process at Georgia Rehabilitation Outreach is very similar to Marion Gatley Rehab Center. Since GRO has a variety of treatment options, the patient meets with one or more intake specialists to determine which route is best suited for the individual. This meeting can take place but more commonly takes place in person so that the patient can begin treatment quicker and more easily.
Once a treatment plan is made, the patient begins the detoxification process. Detox takes place in a hospital setting with medical staff who monitor the patient and help take care of symptoms of withdrawal. Withdrawal happens when the body that became used to receiving the addictive substance regularly suddenly stops receiving it. The time it takes for a patient to experience withdrawal varies by person depending on things like their rate of metabolism and the frequency of use of the substance.
Depending on the individual’s circumstance, detox might not be a necessary step and the patient can move on to treatment. Often times in these cases, patients are given a medication to help lessen the withdrawal symptoms. These options can be discussed between the patient and their treatment team during the intake process.
Assertive Community Treatment is the approach used in Georgia Outreach which differs from the traditional therapeutic office setting. This facility offers an array of outpatient services such as assessment and diagnosis, medication assistance, employment and vocational help, social and life skills classes, and help with conflict resolution skills. Individuals that take part in this type of program meet between 3 and 5 times a week either individually or as a group. The type and frequency of assistances needed is determined by both the patient and the professional.
Assertive Community Treatment is most effective in people who are suffering from a pre-diagnosed, severe mental illness that is paired with a co-occurring substance addiction.
Residential Supports and Community Housing is a service offered by Georgia Recovery Outreach to provide permanent housing for patients following their sobriety. These homes were established to help those struggling with homelessness to get off the streets and those who need help transitioning from a residential facility to living independently. Residents of these subsidized houses pay 30% of the total income for this safe living environment. If a resident doesn’t have a source of income, staff members help them to incur a steady income through governmental benefits they may apply for.
Following treatment of any type of substance abuse it is important for the recovering patient to work actively on maintaining a sober life. Fortunately, there are a number of programs near East Point, Georgia that provide these services.
Hope Homes Recovery Services is located just a short drive from East Point in metropolitan Atlanta. Much like Georgia Recovery Outreach and Marion Gately Crisis Intervention Center, Hope Homes offer many programs for those who have completed the 12-step program to take part in.
They offer many life skills classes, such as employment, education, and nutrition guidance. They also offer weekly support groups and regular outings to learn how to engage in sober activities while living independently. The program also offers weekly check-ins for patients that feel they need extra accountability to remain sober after leaving their treatment facility.
Another facility that provides sober living assistance is Second Chance Recovery Residences in Atlanta, Georgia. Second Chance provides apartment-style residencies that help to provide a transition between an inpatient program and independent living. Medical staff and certified counselors are available to all patients living in the facility and to aid in relapse prevention and transitioning to independence living.
Second Chance offers 2 group meetings weekly that residents are required to attend. They also offer life skills and anger management classes, host social events that focus on sobriety and regularly invite guest speakers to support a healthy lifestyle.
To live in an assistant living facility, patients are required to be 21 years old or older, be completely sober of all substances, and must be willing to participate in the 12-step process with a sponsor and attend meetings regularly. If a relapse does occur in Second Chance, the patient is moved to a treatment center where they can be given more assistance and a more rigid course of treatment until they are ready to be moved back to semi-independent living.