Drug Addiction and Treatment in Sterling Heights, Michigan
Sterling Heights, a city found in Macomb County has a population of 131,139 and it’s the fourth largest city in Michigan. It is also one of Detroit’s deepest suburbs. Detroit is known widely for it’s mark on the auto world and Sterling Heights honors that with the General Motors Heritage Center. The center has vehicles from the GM Heritage Collection that are showcased during certain events and it is also the holding place for literature and artifacts that detail GM’s innovation history. One can also view many historical houses in the city such as Upton House, built in 1867.
Another thing that Detroit is know for is crime. Murder and rape are common crimes committed in the city, but Sterling Heights scored a 53 out 100, 100 being the safest which shows that the city is one of the safer ones in the area. Having said that, all American cities seem to share a common problem, drug addiction. Particularly opioid addiction appears to be a common theme among the U.S. cities as well. Drug addiction tends to lead to more crime and many times, unemployment can stem drug use. It’s all a domino effect. Sterling Heights has an unemployment rate of 3.4 percent. A lot of people are having trouble finding a job while others are having trouble finding a job that pays enough to support their family. Another common problem in America as whole.
America has a drug pandemic on it’s hands and the problem is coming from prescription opioids. Doctors are prescribing patients with a pain pill prescription at times when it’s not even necessary. Mild pain can be temporarily relieved with an aspirin or ibuprofen, but doctors will prescribe these very potent pain relievers. People believe that since the doctor is prescribing them that they must be safe to take. This includes teens who are easily finding these prescriptions at home in the medicine cabinet and taking them. One in seven teens have reported they have abused prescription drugs to get high and that those prescriptions came from home.
Opioids, which includes heroin, fentanyl and prescription opioids (three very common drug names found in news sites all over the United States) killed more than 33,000 people in 2015. Nearly half of opioid overdose deaths come from a prescription opioid like Vicodin or Percocet.
Is Anti-Diarrhea Medicine a New “Opioid”?
While heroin and fentanyl can be easy to find and for cheap on the streets, it is a risk for anyone to go looking for drugs. Prescription drugs are legal and therefore, the risk of having that sort of drug in one’s possession lessens. However, prescription drugs are expensive, as much as $80 a bottle. Therefore, people looked to an alternative approach to ward off opioid withdrawal symptoms or get a high and it looks like they may have found one. Anti-diarrhea medicine, Imodium A.D. costs about $10 per 400 capsules. The recommended daily amount of Imodium A.D. is eight milligrams for over-the-counter medication and 16 milligrams for prescription use. People who are addicted to opioids are taking between 50 to 300 capsules a day. By taking this much of a dosage, people are getting a euphoric high that is like the high obtained from morphine, heroin or oxycodone. People who are taking these high dosages are reporting serious heart problems. Some deaths have also been reported as well.
The federal agency has asked manufacturers to change the way Imodium A.D. is packaged to try to curb the abuse of the drug. A blister package is recommended, which limits the amount that a customer can take at one time.
What Is Being Done in Macomb County
The Drug Enforcement Agency and Macomb County Anti-Drug Coalitions became partners in an effort to educate the community about drug addiction to help reduce the number of drugs that is in their community. A day referred to as “Take Back Prescription Drug Day” has been set up to allow citizens to drop off unwanted drugs a various drop boxes. This allows the drugs to stay off the streets and out of the water system.
Hope Not Handcuffs is also a program designed to help spread awareness about drug dangers. Setup buy Families Against Narcotics (FAN), the program wants to bring community organizations and law enforcement together to find treatment options for people who want help with their drug or alcohol addiction. Jailtime isn’t going to cure drug addiction. While it may give a person time to withdrawal from a drug, it doesn’t supply the therapy needed to help someone say off the drug. This means as soon as that person is released from jail, they will be looking for their fix. With Hope Not Handcuffs, people addicted to drugs can turn themselves into a police station for treatment. The number of people who have already taken advantage of this program is overwhelming.
How You Can Help
- Educate Yourself About Drug Use and Addiction
- There are hundreds of websites online about drug use and addiction and learning as much as possible about the different types of drugs and how they affect someone can help.
- Talk to children about the harmful drug dangers. Children need to understand that drugs, any type of drug is bad. Even over-the-counter drugs can be harmful, if too many are taken at one time. By starting early, the seed of harmful drug use can be planted and will continue to grow during a child’s informative teen years.
- Know the signs and symptoms of drug abuse/addiction:
- Mood swings
- Financial trouble
- Poor judgement
- Glazed or blood-shot eyes
- Changed to personal hygiene or grooming habits
- Changes in personality
- Loss of interest if favorite activities
- Changes in eating
- Losing weight or gaining weight
- Sleeping too much or sleeping too little
- In writing these signs and symptoms and trying to associate them to a teenager, it was noticed that teens already have many of these signs and symptoms. They are moody people, for sure. However, we all know our children and we all have some type of instinct when it comes to our children. Trust that.
- Clear Out Unused Medicine
- Anyone and everyone will rummage through a person’s bathroom for drugs, if addicted to opioids. Teens do this regularly because they do not believe that taking prescription drugs is bad. They see them as safe. To keep dangerous prescription pain medication out of the hands of others, throw it out. It’s important not to trash it, as it can still be found there and by flushing it, the water supply can be contaminated. Alternatively, there are drop boxes available to discard of unwanted/unused medication.
- Encourage Someone to Get Help
- Often some people just need a little push to get the help that the desperately need. In the society that we live in, people are judging people on a minute-to-minute basis. Social media has made some brave and courageous keyboard warriors who like to share their opinion. These warriors are known as trolls because they love to start drama. Therefore, when it comes to things like drug addiction, of course they have an opinion on that too! Their opinion, “just stop using it!” Drug addiction doesn’t work like that, but it doesn’t stop the shame and guilt that these words instill.
- People do not have to understand drug addiction to help another person out. Drug addiction is just like any other type addiction out there: food, gambling, social media, smartphones, internet, gaming, sex, etc. There are very few people out there who can do anything and not become addicted. Most people have an addiction to something. People do not have to fully understand each other’s addiction, but support can still be given. Encouragement can still be shared.
- By helping someone else to realize that they have a drug addiction, it could be the push that they need to go to rehab to get sober.
- It’s important to stay away from certain words when offering an intervention of sorts.
- Instead, positive words can be used:
- Risky use
- Alcohol and Drug used
- Medication assisted treatment
- Misused of drugs
- When talking to someone about drug use or drug addiction, try to stay away from phrases and questions that might make them feel guilty. Guilt-trip phrases and questions can lead to a stronger addiction issue.
- Don’t you care if you die?
- Don’t you love yourself enough not to do drugs?
- Don’t you think you should get sober for your children?
- Don’t you love me enough to stop?
- See, you don’t care about me at all because you won’t stop using.
- Join a support group
- Support groups are not just for people who have an addiction, there are many groups for people who are helping someone through an addiction. It takes a lot of strength to help someone else at times and while trying to be supportive all the time, it can be very stressful. People need to be able to blow off some steam and get some feelings out. Support groups for family members of friends of someone addicted to drugs can be helpful and rewarding to both the person being helped and the person helping.
- Learn about Drug Rehabilitation
- Know some facts before setting up any type of intervention. This will allow an informative viewpoint and can help you to stay objective during the intervention.
- There is a lot of anxiety and fear when a person thinks about going to rehab and therefore, many people abusing drugs do not want to go. By alleviating some these fears, it could produce more positive thoughts about rehab.
Some Drug Rehabilitation Basics
Rehab starts with an assessment, a list of questions that helps a doctor to decide if a patient has an addiction and what sort of treatment would be best to offer. Some of the questions asked are general questions while others are drug-related questions.
- What type of drugs are being used?
- How long has one been using?
- Is alcohol being used along with the drugs?
- Are there any mental health issues to be aware of?
- Is the patient depressed or having suicidal thoughts?
- What does the patients support system look like?
This information will be used to help doctors decide if the facility is the right one for the patient. If it is, the next stop will be an intake. An intake is another set of questions, but this time the questions are more detailed and ask about drug use (past and present) and family and individual mental & medical history. The doctor will also do a physical examination to check for certain medical issues that could have occurred during drug use.
- Liver problems
- Fast heartbeat
- Dilated pupils
- Needle marks (from injecting)
- Lung or nose issues (from snorting)
- Vital signs
- Slurred speech
Lab tests will be administered. It’s most commonly a urine test to check for drugs in the system. In some instances, a doctor will order other tests to be done.
After which, a patient will be admitted into the facility. During this part of the process, a list of items will be given to the patient that defines what items are not permitted in the facility. For whatever items a patient has on them that is not permitted, they can be sent home with family or left with the front desk to pick up once the patient as been released.
Some common non-permitted items:
- Revealing clothing
- Bed linens/pillow
- Over-the-counter medication
Financial arrangements will also be made at this time too. Many facilities work on a sliding scale payment system, so they are very willing to work with a patient who is having some financial troubles. Employer insurance can also pay for drug rehabilitation so it’s important to check into that because it is possible for the entire stint to be paid by insurance.
Now comes the part that many people who are addicted to drugs have the most anxiety about, detox. Detox is the process of cleansing one’s body of drugs in preparation for the next step in the process. Without detoxing the body, there isn’t a fair chance of inpatient treatment doing its job efficiently. Detox starts with the doctor prescribing a small dose of opioids like methadone to patients to help them slowly come off the drug. This is for patients who are still doing drugs upon entering rehab. The dosage of this opioid will get smaller and smaller until it doesn’t exist at all. Patients usually detox for 5-7 days. During which, their body will start to feel some withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms typically start anywhere from 6-12 hours after a person’s last dose for short-acting opiates and 30 hours for long-acting opiates. Symptoms generally peak at 72 hours.
Detox can be harsh for patients. Opioid addiction can be extremely hard to withdrawal from.
- Drug cravings
- Fast heartrate
- Stomach cramping
These symptoms can get pretty bad, so a doctor may prescribe some medication to help with the drug cravings so that the other symptoms can lessen as well.
Once a patient has been detoxed, inpatient and outpatient treatment is the next step. Inpatient treatment is done through a program called RTC (Residential Treatment Center). For this program, a patient stays in the facility for 28 days on average. However, there are some instances where patients may stay shorter or longer. It all depends on what recommendation that the doctor has made. For RTC, a psychiatrist or therapist will walk through the process of addiction with a patient to find out why the addiction happened in the place. Addiction most often starts in childhood or adolescence so it’s possible that something happened early in life that led to addiction. Many times, whatever happened early on will be triggered causing a person the desire to avoid their feelings and use drugs to help “heal” themselves.
There are many types of therapies that are used during RTC but one kind that is found extremely helpful is called Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). CBT is type of psychotherapy that allows patient to understand how they are thinking and why they choose to think that way. Distorted thinking is found in a lot of patients who are addicted to drugs and have had depression in their life. Distorted thinking is a path of negative thinking that keeps a person feeling depressed. CBT will help to use tools and techniques to change the way a person thinks and undo these distorted thoughts.
During RTC, there are other kinds of therapies used as well. Music, medication, yoga, acupuncture and art therapy is used to help patients find peace while also finding answers to their addiction. This type of therapy provides a constructive outlet and some feel-good vibes because all of these things are stress-relieving.
Group therapy is just as important as individual therapy during RTC. Group therapy allows patients who are struggling with addiction to talk to one another and share their experiences, good or bad. Many times, the friendships that are built in RTC are friendships for life. There is a bond made that just can’t be broken.
If a doctor recommends a patient for outpatient treatment, there are two types that one can be recommended for, PHP and IOP.
Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) is a program that is used to help patients transition from life inside the facility to life outside of it. PHP takes place in the facility for 6 hours a day, 5-7 days a week. It is used to help patients cope with trigger points by instilling coping skills like writing, drawing, painting, exercising, etc. Individual and group therapy are big focus points in PHP.
Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) is a program that furthers the transition of moving from rehab to home life by providing a 3-hour, 3-day at week group therapy session that is very similar to a support group. Life outside of rehab can seem very imitating and IOP can give people an outlet to express their concerns and fears with people who are feeling the same way.
Aftercare is taught during RTC and works it way through the other treatments as well. It just means that a person is on their own to an extent after rehab, which means they need to have the tools and techniques of avoiding drug use with them at all times. A person who has been to rehab for addiction will never be fully cured, but they can find a sober life. Temptation will always be knocking on their door, it becomes a choice to let it in or not.
To avoid a relapse, there are some aftercare tools and techniques that one can use.
Support groups are the perfect way to stay sober because there is room full of people offering encouragement for a person to stay sober. Support groups are a place to share doubts and fears without being judged.
Eating right and getting exercise boosts feel-good emotions, energy and neurotransmitters like serotonin to help a person to stay sober and happy.
Staying active is also important. Hobbies help a person to stay active and off drugs. Finding a hobby that one really enjoys can reward its own natural high. There are so many great hobbies to choose from: cooking, martial arts, restoring cars, writing, reading, playing sports, etc.
Aftercare is all about doing what a person needs to stay off drugs and keep their sobriety. There are many ways for people to figure out how this works for them. Trial and error is a huge part of aftercare too but as long as one has a great support system, they should do fine.
If you or someone you know is addicted to drugs, get help.