Addiction and Drug Abuse Treatment in Rochester, Minnesota
Rochester is a small city in the state of Minnesota, located at the south fork of the Zumbro River in Olmsted County. It is home to 111,402 residents. Like many Midwestern communities, Rochester has suffered from dramatic increases in abuse and overdose rates of heroin and prescription opioid pain relievers.
Opioid-related overdose deaths have risen steadily across the United States over the last 20 years, and the Northeast and Midwest regions have been hit the hardest by the epidemic. Recent data from the Minnesota Department of Health revealed that 376 Minnesotans died in 2016 as a result of opioid overdoses alone. This number represents an increase of 12 percent from the previous year. Opioid-related deaths accounted for over half of all drug overdoses in the state.
In Minnesota, more people now die every year as a result of drug overdoses than from traffic accidents. Including opioids and other drugs, 637 people died in 2016 from overdoses in Minnesota. Countless individuals and their families in Rochester and the surrounding areas have suffered from the pain and struggles of substance abuse and addiction.
Approximately half of Minnesota’s overdose deaths resulted from the abuse of prescription opioids, including hydrocodone and oxycodone. The state has taken steps to try to combat the opioid crisis. State officials have spread access to naloxone (a medication that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose in an emergency), and doctors in Minnesota are prescribing fewer opioids to patients. However, despite efforts from officials and medical providers, opioid abuse remains a serious problem in Rochester and other communities across the state.
Opioid Abuse and Addiction
Opioid addiction is a chronic disease with both physical and psychological components, categorized by compulsive, repeated use of physician-prescribed opioid medications or illicit forms of the drug, such as heroin. Opioids act on the nervous system of the user, producing intense feelings of pain relief and contentment. Commonly prescribed opioids include the following:
Over time and with repeated use, opioids cause the user to become physically and psychologically dependent upon the substance, eventually causing the person to experience intense cravings and discomfort when they do not use the drug. Long-term opioid addiction alters brain chemistry and functioning and leads to increased drug tolerance. It is common for those suffering from opioid addiction to begin to use the drug more frequently and in larger amounts over time as the addiction and dependency develop.
There is evidence to suggest that there is a genetic component to addiction. Most people who eventually become addicted are first introduced to opioids in recreational or social settings, or after they or a family member or friend is given a prescription from a doctor. However, some people are more likely than others to develop an addiction. Genetic and biological factors may cause certain individuals to be at greater risk compared to others for an addiction to occur.
Those who abuse opioids for an extended period of time are likely to experience unpleasant or even painful physical and psychological symptoms when they attempt to stop taking the drug. These symptoms may include intense drug cravings, muscle aches and cramps, nausea and vomiting, anxiety, and depression.
Opioid addiction is a cruel and unforgiving disease. Although it may seem impossible, recovery is achievable. Although, in certain circumstances, it may be possible to stop abusing opioids on your own, there are serious risks. Detox and withdrawal can be extremely unpleasant and even dangerous for those suffering from opioid addiction. In addition, those recovering from addiction to opioids are at increased risk of overdose in the event of a relapse. Therefore, it is typically recommended that those attempting to stop using opioids are medically monitored during detox and treatment.
With the right strategies and treatment methods, drug treatment has been shown to be effective, even for the most severe and long-lasting addictions. You do not have to suffer in silence, and you are not alone. Keep reading to learn about how drug treatment works, and the inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation options available in Rochester and elsewhere.
Pre-intake into Treatment
It is common for those addicted to opioids or other drugs to feel intense worry at the idea of attending treatment. Over time, addiction can seriously affect thinking patterns and behavior, causing those suffering from the disease to compulsively seek out addictive substances, even in the face of physical, emotional, social, and economic consequences. The decision to seek help for substance abuse and dependency can be a tremendously difficult one, particularly if you are struggling with a severe or long-lasting addiction.
Not everyone who enters a treatment facility makes the decision to seek help on their own. Some people decide to attend rehabilitation following an intervention organized by family, friends, loved ones, and/or a professional. However the decision is made, many people feel a great deal of anxiety, fear, and even dread prior to entering treatment. Particularly if you have never attended rehabilitation for addiction before, the process of detox and treatment is an unknown.
In addition to concerns about what treatment may be like (explained in later sections), many people also have concerns about having to put their lives on hold to attend rehabilitation. It is common for people to worry about work and family responsibilities, paying rent and other bills, and how to pay for treatment. Below is a list of some of the most frequent practical concerns people face before entering treatment:
- How to ensure children, elderly parents, pets, or other dependents are cared for while undergoing rehabilitation
- How to inform an employer about your decision to seek treatment (all employees in the United States are entitled to 12 weeks of leave for any serious medical condition, including substance addiction treatment)
- How to tell family and friends about the decision to seek help for an addiction
- How to pay for treatment
- How to pay rent and other bills while in rehabilitation (you may choose to sign up for automatic payments, or a family member or friend may be able to help you take care of your bills while you undergo treatment)
- What to expect after discharge, and how to plan for continued recovery and avoid relapse
Depending on your unique circumstances, it is possible that family, friends, or other loved ones may be able to help you with many of the above concerns. When you are in treatment for drug addiction or alcoholism, it is important that you are able to focus all of your attention and energy on your recovery and getting well. Taking the time to make sure your practical concerns are addressed prior to entering treatment can help you focus on your health and wellbeing while undergoing inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation.
Treatment Assessment and Intake
Every treatment center has its own particular set of intake procedures that it follows when a new patient enters treatment. However, there are some standard intake processes that most facilities generally carry out.
When you arrive at a rehabilitation center, the first thing you can typically expect is to undergo a comprehensive drug assessment. The purpose of an initial assessment is to provide staff members, including medical professionals, addiction specialists, and counselors, with the information they need to develop an individual treatment and recovery plan. Staff members need to know the severity and duration of your addiction, your past and present substance abuse patterns, and the status of your overall physical and mental health.
Below are some of the components of a typical initial drug assessment that you may be able to expect during the intake process:
- A blood or urine sample and a breathalyzer
- A medical/physical exam
- Reading and filling out individual and family health history documents
- A one-on-one addiction specialist or counselor
- A mental health evaluation
- Taking self-reported survey tests designed to measure your attitudes and behaviors surrounding your addiction and your overall mental health
You will also likely be asked to sign consent forms and read through documents that explain the rules, expectations, and policies of the treatment center. Many inpatient treatment centers have rules about visiting hours and times when you can make phone calls. In addition, the intake process generally involves going through any bags and belongings you have brought with you to treatment with a facility staff member in order to remove any restricted items.
Every rehabilitation center has its own list of items that patients may not bring with them to treatment (which can sometimes be found on the facility’s website); however, items that are commonly restricted at drug addiction and alcoholism rehabilitation include the following:
- Drugs, alcohol, and unapproved or opened medications
- Guns, knives (including folding and pocket knives), and other weapons
- Electronic devices (often including cell phones)
- Expensive items and cash
- Products containing alcohol
- Flammable objects and substances
Following the intake process, new patients are usually taken on a guided tour of the facility and shown their room, any communal areas, and any rooms where individual or group therapy and check-ups will take place. This is typically when you will meet other patients in various stages of treatment, and then have a chance to unpack your belongings and get settled. New patients are also typically provided with a meal and sometimes invited to attend a scheduled group therapy session, although this is often not required on the first day of treatment.
The detoxification and withdrawal process is different for everyone. Some patients undergoing treatment do not experience any withdrawal symptoms; however, most people recovering from opioid addiction have to go through a period of withdrawal, which can be physically and psychologically grueling.
As previously discussed, opioid addiction alters brain chemistry and wiring over time, which affects thinking patterns, priorities, and behavior. Long-term dependence on opioids also causes the body to become accustomed to receiving its usual dose. When a new patient arrives at treatment and stops using opioids (or other substance to which their body has become addicted), their body must rid itself of the toxins and chemicals associated with their addiction. This process is known as “detoxification.” During this period, patients typically experience unpleasant and painful symptoms of withdrawal.
Each individual experiences detox differently, and the type and severity of withdrawal symptoms is likely to depend on a number of factors, including the patient’s level of dependency, the duration of their addiction, and biological and genetic factors. Opioid detox and withdrawal is notoriously difficult to go through; however, patients undergoing opioid withdrawal are often prescribed medications to cope with the symptoms and are closely monitored by specialists during this time.
Below are some common symptoms people experience while undergoing opioid detox and withdrawal:
- Intense drug cravings
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dehydration and dry mouth
- Muscle cramps and body aches
- Runny or itchy nose
- High blood pressure
- Dilated pupils
- Insomnia and restlessness
- Drowsiness and extreme fatigue
- Depression and anxiety
- Irritability and aggression
- Paranoia and hallucinations
The above and other symptoms typically peak in severity between 24 and 48 hours after the last use of the drug, although in stubborn cases they may last for several months. It is important to note that, after the 48-hour mark, these symptoms tend to diminish in severity substantially.
The detox and withdrawal process is an important component of addiction treatment; however, without additional therapy, education, and treatment, detox is seldom sufficient to break the vicious cycle of opioid addiction. In order to achieve long-lasting recovery and sobriety, detox is most effective at treating addiction when used in conjunction with intensive therapy and other treatments. To learn more about the treatment types that typically accompany and follow detox, keep reading.
Inpatient or residential treatment for drug addiction or alcoholism refers to rehabilitation programs wherein patients live full-time at the treatment facility. These programs typically incorporate intensive group and individual therapy, educational programs, professional supervision, and peer support, and take place in a secure, safe, and entirely drug-free environment. Inpatient rehabilitation allows patients to detox and recover from severe addiction alongside other recovering individuals in a facility designed to remain free from distractions and temptations.
Each inpatient rehabilitation program is unique; however, inpatient treatment can be broadly separated into two main categories:
- Short-term inpatient programs – Patients generally stay at the treatment facility for up to 30 days and abstain from using any drugs or alcohol, undergo intensive therapy and counseling, participate in educational lessons, learn coping strategies, and receive medical attention.
- Long-term inpatient programs – Patients with severe addictions may remain in a long-term inpatient treatment facility for several months or up to a year and receive round-the-clock professional supervision, peer support, intensive group and individual therapy, education, and coaching.
Since those recovering from opioid addiction are at increased risk of overdose in the case of a relapse, and since detoxing from opioid abuse can be potentially dangerous, patients with an addiction to prescription or synthetic opioids are typically advised to attend inpatient rehabilitation. Each individual is unique, and it is important to consider your specific needs, preferences, and circumstances prior to choosing a particular program.
Instead of living full-time at a treatment facility, as patients undergoing residential rehabilitation do, patients receiving addiction treatment on an outpatient basis live (or at least spend nights) away from the facility. Outpatient rehabilitation allows patients to undergo treatment for drug addiction and/or alcoholism while living at home, with family or friends, or in a sober living home. Patients attend treatment appointments, check-ups, and counseling sessions at the facility, and are typically required to be at the facility during certain hours of the day or week.
Since outpatient treatment cannot provide the same kind of 24-hour supervision and support that is offered through inpatient rehabilitation programs, patients are typically required to submit to periodic drug tests, which may involve providing urine or blood samples or taking a breathalyzer, and attend regular medical and mental health check-ups.
There are a wide variety of outpatient rehabilitation programs, and each program is unique in terms of the specific treatments and therapies offered. Outpatient treatment options include the following:
- Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP) – This type of outpatient treatment is similar to inpatient rehabilitation in that patients receive intensive therapy, participate in support groups, are supervised by professional medical and addiction specialists, and focus on learning coping and relapse-prevention strategies. Patients in intensive outpatient programs generally spend nights away from the facility, but spend several hours at the treatment facility at least three times during the week, and often daily.
- Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP) – These treatment programs are specifically designed to accommodate individuals who require medical supervision during the rehabilitation process, but who do not require inpatient treatment. Patients in partial hospitalization programs typically spend nights at home, but attend treatment sessions several times a week, or even daily, to receive therapy, counseling, and mental and physical health check-ups.
- Counseling and Therapy – Treatments involving counseling and therapy help patients undergoing outpatient rehabilitation learn coping and relapse-prevention strategies, discuss past or current traumas, difficulties, and struggles, and untangle the sometimes complicated web of underlying causes behind their addictions. This kind of treatment is generally used in conjunction with other strategies, although every effective rehabilitation program incorporates therapy and counseling to some degree.
Since opioid detox is potentially dangerous and patients recovering from opioid addiction are at increased risk of overdose in the event of a relapse, patients with severe or long-lasting addictions to synthetic or prescription opioids are typically strongly advised to attend inpatient rehabilitation. Those who do not require a detox period, those with less severe addictions, and those who cannot commit to full-time inpatient rehabilitation may find that outpatient treatment is the right choice for them. It is important to make sure that any treatment program you decide on meets your individual needs, preferences, and wishes.
Aftercare and Sober Living
What happens after treatment? This is an extremely important question, and one that is not discussed often enough. Detox, withdrawal, intensive therapy, and professional supervision are all important components of the rehabilitation and recovery process. However, a patient’s recovery does not end when they are discharged from inpatient or outpatient treatment. A well-thought-out plan for continued sobriety and ongoing recovery—referred to in the addiction rehabilitation industry as “aftercare”—is strongly correlated with long-term sobriety.
The first few months after discharge are of the utmost importance. Utilizing aftercare options and becoming a part of a supportive group of individuals who have also suffered from addiction and are dedicated to recovery and relapse-avoidance can greatly increase your odds of staying sober and making a successful transition from rehabilitation back into everyday life.
There are a wide variety of aftercare options, and it is important to consider your unique circumstances and your needs and preferences when choosing the right option(s) for you. Below are some of the most frequently utilized aftercare options:
- Continued outpatient treatment
- Sober living residencies or “halfway houses”
- Continued individual, group, couples, or family counseling
- Local or online support groups
- 12 step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
- Educational programs for recovering individuals
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Pharmaceutical treatments
Since the risk of relapse is highest in the days, weeks, and months following an inpatient rehabilitation stay or outpatient treatment, it is important to have an aftercare plan when you exit organized treatment. That said, aftercare does not have to be a temporary crutch. Making continued recovery and sober living a priority in your life on an ongoing basis can help you focus on your health and wellbeing and live a drug-free life for the long-term. It is never too late to reach out for help, and there are always resources available.
You are not alone. There are other people who are currently suffering from opioid addiction and addictions to other substances. There are professionals and peers who can help guide you on your path to recovery. Breaking free from addiction is never easy, but it is worth it.