St. Mary's, Georgia
St. Mary’s, Georgia is 347 miles from Atlanta. The state proper, and primarily its Atlanta metropolis, is considered a HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area) stronghold by the U.S. Department of Justice.
A random Internet search of the St. Mary’s area brings forth a telling quote: “There is no stereotypical drug user. It may be the homeless man on the corner … It is just as likely to be a friend, co-worker, spouse, parent, or even yourself. Addiction doesn’t target certain people. Under the right circumstances, anyone can develop a drug or alcohol use problem.”
Truer words have rarely been spoken, especially when one considers the large number of treatment centers throughout the state: 262 addiction rehab facilities, 82 of which provide residential treatment; 105 are considered partial day hospitalization facilities. Further, 183 sober living facilities for alcoholics operate state-wide.
The message is clear: Georgians have a widespread substance abuse issue, but there are plenty of programs and centers available to help with that issue.
The town of St. Mary’s is a quaint seaside city in the southern border of Camden County. It is considered the gateway to the largest of the Georgia Coast’s barrier islands, Cumberland Island National Seashore. The city’s area is 24.9 square miles, of which 22.5 square miles is land. Just over 14,000 residents live in the city, with a lower-end median income of $48,000 for a household with a family, and $42,000 for a household without a family. Males tend to earn an average of 20% more than females for the same job, and close to 11.5% of the city’s population falls below the poverty line.
Racial makeup is approximately 75% Caucasian, 20% African American, 2.5% “People from Two or More Races,” 1% Asian, and the rest a mix of “Other Races.”
St. Mary’s was the subject of a widely-read article from The Florida Times Union back in 2010, which was one of the first articles to call attention to a growing drug issue. At the time, one of the largest and most intensive marijuana investigations in the city’s history led to an illegal operation in Woodbine, where 588 plants, and 200 smaller plants, were illegally growing for purposes of trafficking in the drug. Lighting, irrigation, and other equipment necessary for thriving plants were also in the vicinity.
The number, nearly a decade-old, served notice that the picturesque small town was not as innocent as it may have looked.
In 2016, in nearby Kingsland, $400,000 worth of illegal street drugs were seized during three separate raids. The drugs included methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana, and an unidentified Schedule II controlled substance.
Once again, the quiet town was rocked as its neighbor bore the brunt of publicity that could have been theirs. The reality of St. Mary’s small town living is balanced with its location near a HIDTA epicenter. Many user-residents travel back and forth from St. Mary’s to Atlanta, where trafficking in the state is at its height. Interestingly, the drug Molly is increasingly popular in the region, which has similar psychoactive effects as Ecstasy. Meth use and treatment admissions have increased year-to-year since 2015. Opioids are prescribed with regularity, and the ratio of city-wide addictions mirrors the national epidemic. Oxycodone, as with the state, is the most commonly prescribed opioid. Otherwise, the usage of heroin and cocaine is also aligned with the national average, while pot use and alcohol is moderately higher. Cocaine, though, appears to be on the decline, while 53% of all car-related accidents of area residents are on highways to and from a highly-drug-trafficked area.
But as mentioned earlier, help is always available. Read on for several lists of valuable resources.
Drug Abuse Prevention
Georgia also has implemented a medical amnesty law, or “Good Samaritan Law”, which allows limited legal immunity for people seeking medical assistance for themselves or others experiencing an overdose. The law extends to immunity from arrest, charge and prosecution for the person experiencing the overdose, and the person seeking medical attention in good faith for possession of some drugs, probation and parole violations, possession of paraphernalia, and possession or consumption of alcohol, as long the evidence for the arrest was obtained solely from the medical assistance sought out. The law was passed in an attempt to save lives that might have otherwise been lost as a result of bystanders fearing legal repercussions of illegal activities. The implementation of the Medical Amnesty Law also allows First Responders and those likely to be in a position to respond to opioid overdose victims the ability to administer the lifesaving antidote, Naloxone or NARCAN. Non-profit organization Georgia Overdose Prevention members are working to make sure Naloxone is available to all first responders.
Drug and Alcohol assessments are the first step in evaluating if a drug or alcohol problem is present, and to what degree. They’re also used as ways to assess what kind of treatment is useful, appropriate, and and available based on individual needs. Drug and alcohol assessments are available at many treatment facilities.
Examples of assessment questions include: “Do you ever use alone?” “Have you ever substituted one drug for another, thinking one particular drug was the problem?” “Does the thought of running out of drugs terrify you?” And, “Have you ever been in a jail, a hospital, or a drug rehabilitation center because of your using?”
Once you’ve completed an assessment and have gotten a treatment recommendation from a professional, you’ll begin the pre-intake and intake process. This is the time to find the best treatment facility and professionals that fit your personal needs. During the intake process, ask any questions you may have about your treatment plan, the professionals you’ll be working with, and the facility. The staff at the facility may also have some questions, as well as screenings, or tests which will assist them at developing a roadmap for your success. While beginning treatment can be scary and uncomfortable at first, you’ll be more likely to stick to your program if you have a good idea of what to expect during treatment, so make sure to ask clarifying questions and respond to inquiries honestly.
Georgia treatment and recovery centers frequently conduct their own intake services. Most undertaking an intake will subsequently receive treatment at the same location.
One should not be intimidated by intake applications. Many are the same as those required during standard doctor visits. Questions include what drugs you are presently taking, and referrals to close family members and/or friends.
The first step in most treatments is to detox. After abstaining from addictive substances, the body goes through a period of withdrawal. The length of time and severity of withdrawal depends on how long the user has been addicted, how often they used, the type of drug(s) used, the users tolerance to the drug, and the users overall health. Detox can last between several hours up to three weeks, and may include anxiety, depression, hunger, fatigue, discomfort, irritability, and restlessness.
Each drug has its own withdrawal symptoms and general length. For example, it is common for those going through alcohol detox to experience delirium tremens or ‘The DTs’. Symptoms of the DTs include delirium, tremors, hallucinations, irritability and agitation, mood swings, light sensitivity, and fatigue.
Opioids withdrawal, including that of heroin and prescription pain killers can last anywhere from a several hours to a few weeks, and can include intense drug cravings, nausea, restlessness, body aches, insomnia and irritation.
Detox services for St. Mary’s are centered throughout the community. Most often, the concept and practice of detox are broken down into three distinct phases: Evaluation, Stabilization, and Transition to Inpatient Drug Rehab.
It’s crucial to have a healthcare professional present while detoxing from drugs and alcohol, as it can lead to emergency situations.
There are several different types of Inpatient Treatment Facilities, and it’s up to you and the professionals treating your addiction to determine which type is right for you.
Inpatient treatment in St. Mary’s, Georgia is not substantively different than that of most Georgia cities. Such services can either be PHP (a partial hospitalization providing a highly-structured environment, with typically active treatment of 30 hours per week), the less-intensive IOP (intensive outpatient treatment plan, which requires up to three hours daily over 3-5 days, for a total of nine hours weekly; therapy is usually included, but the patient can live either at their own home or a halfway house during the process), and an RTC (residential).
Though you may be the best determinant of the degree of inpatient recovery resources best suited to your needs, frequently one may need the help of family or friends to help you more clearly identify the treatment options that are most prudent for your needs. From there, only your personal commitment will determine your success.
RTC – A Residential Treatment Center (RTC) is a live-in medical program (inpatient) that provides therapeutic treatment for behavioral issues, mental illnesses, and substance abuse. Patients spend most if not all of their time at the facility under close care of professionals until treatment is completed. A Residential Treatment Center is often the approach taken when outpatient programs aren’t working, or more extreme supervision is needed during treatment.
PHP – A Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) is a type of treatment that allows the patient to have a structured psychiatric treatment without the constant inpatient supervision of an RTC. The patient typically spends several hours a day, 5 days a week at the facility, but isn’t required to spend the night.
IOP – An Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) is a type of treatment that, similar to PHP allows the patient to spend some time at the treatment facility – often 3 hours a day, 3 days a week. IOP treatment is often useful after one has completed RTC or PHP treatment.
Outpatient treatment programs offer less restrictions than inpatient, and are an option for those with mild to moderate substance abuse issues or a part of long-term care for those who have already participated in an inpatient treatment. A patient will visit the outpatient facility for several hours a week for group and/or individual therapy.
The importance of outpatient treatment is frequently overlooked due to a frequent misunderstanding on the part of the addict. As was mentioned earlier, for those engaged in an exhaustive withdrawal, while integral in the event of an overdose or detox, there are still steps remaining to regain your optimal mental and physical health.
Outpatient treatment is a comprehensive approach to wellness, and makes no less impact than inpatient services. Recovery is an ongoing process, which requires a substantive lifestyle change to avoid the ever-present threat of a relapse.
Aftercare & Sober Living
Once a patient completes their treatment, whether inpatient or outpatient, it is recommended to have an aftercare plan in place. Aftercare programs focus on relapse prevention and support for the patient and their family upon integrating back into the “real world” after treatment.
Sober living homes are homes or community environments available to people recovering from alcohol and drug abuse. Living around others that are also abstaining from harmful lifestyle choices breeds a supportive transitional living environment. Many Sober Living homes incorporate 12-step programs and/or individual recovery plans.
Call us to find an addiction treatment center that meets your needs and start your journey to recovery today.