Elmwood Park Borough, New Jersey
Elmwood Park Borough, New Jersey is a town resting in Bergen County along with the cities of Hackensack, Teaneck, Tenafly, Edgewater, Rutherford, Lyndhurst, Saddle Brook, Dumont, Paramus, Fort Lee, Ramsey, Westwood, Lodi, Hasbrouck Heights, Saddle River, Cresskill, Ridgewood, Fair Lawn, Bergenfield, Glen Rock, Franklin Lakes, Oradell, East Rutherford, Englewood, Mahwah, Wyckoff, Cliffside Park, Garfield, Closter, New Milford, Palisades Park, Hillsdale, Ridgefield, River Edge, North Arlington, Carlstadt, Ridgefield Park, Oakland, Leonia, Midland Park, Emerson, Englewood Cliffs, Maywood, Allendale, Bogota, Alpine, Montvale, Waldwick, Demarest, Little Ferry. It contains the neighborhoods of Artesian Fields, Birchwood, and Elmwood. Of its populace of 21,625, 1,901 died of heroin and fentanyl overdose in 2017. There were also 278 robberies in 2016 and over 50% of reported substance abuse cases in New Jersey were treated in Bergen County. (New Jersey Substance Abuse Monitoring System (NJ-SAMS) Substance Abuse Treatment Admissions 1/1/2016-12/31/2016)
It sits next to one of the biggest addict attractions in the area: Paterson, NJ.
The use of fentanyl especially has skyrocketed in New Jersey since 2013, climbing a staggering 2000% in that time. Elmwood Park had the most overdose cases in 2016 at 23 cases. 16.9% of the population also drinks excessively. Users seem to be from the middle to higher class, however, rather than those who may be homeless or struggling financially. Elmwood Park’s unemployment rate is merely average and the median household income is $71,852, almost $20,000 higher than that of the rest of the USA. Their poverty rate is also 3% lower.
Treatment for drug or alcohol abuse will start with an assessment to determine whether an addiction is present. The process includes determining the extent of the addiction, if present, testing to see if there are any co-occurring conditions, and assisting in developing a recovery plan. Multiple people will evaluate you, ranging from doctors and nurses to therapists and counselors. The assessment is straightforward in that you will answer questionnaires, take a physical exam, and give a self-assessment. You will be asked about current drug or alcohol use, health history, treatment history, symptoms, the effects the addiction has had on your life, and patterns of behavior. Your provider will then ask you open-ended questions in an interview that will provide information to assist in making a proper diagnosis.
All information given to your provider will be kept confidential.
A few screening tools might include the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test-C (AUDIT-C), the National Institute on Drug Use Screening Tool (NIDA), or the CAGE assessment, which includes the following questions:
C – Cutting Down. Have you ever felt you should cut down on drinking?
A – Annoyance. Have you ever felt annoyed when criticized for drinking?
G – Guilt. Have you ever felt guilty about your drinking?
E – Eye-openers. Have you ever felt the need to drink immediately in the morning?
If the answer is yes to two or more of these questions, further assessment may be needed.
Though it is recommended that you seek out a medical professional for true assessment, you may also perform a preliminary self-assessment by asking a few questions such as:
- Has your drinking or drug use caused issues or interfered with relationships in any way?
- Do you feel you must consume alcohol or drugs to get through your day?
- Do you remain intoxicated over a period of several days?
Medical Assessments are also performed through urinary or hair screening.
Most rehabilitation centers and doctors will try to keep the time between the assessment and intake as short as possible as they help determine the best course of action to pursue for each individual. No case is exactly the same and tailoring a plan of action to your specific needs is a vital step towards recovery. This can last several hours and include multiple, fairly involved interviews, assessments, and questionnaires.
These assessments will help your provider understand you and your needs. They will assess you and your family’s medical history, daily exercise habits and routines, current stress triggers, caffeine, sugar, and alcohol consumption, past therapeutic treatments, past addiction issues and any hospitalizations, OTC medication currently being taken, living arrangements, and employment status.
As you’re learning about your treatment program, you will discover that there are many different models of rehabilitation programs you and your providers can follow. These can include Motivational Interviewing, multidimensional family therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and motivational incentives. If you enroll in a residential program, you may also participate in a therapeutic community approach. Some of these programs may include rewards given when a particular goal is reached.
The first call to your treatment facility marks the start of the intake process. Write down as many questions as you have before making the call to get a better picture of what to expect for your first visit. When you arrive, you will sit one-on-one with your counsellor, discussing your method of treatment and discovering the reason you began using drugs. Tell your counsellor about any underlying health issues, especially if you struggle with depression, anxiety, or any other psychological disorders, and share your goals while you are in rehab. You counsellor will determine the severity of your addiction and settle on a plan that is tailored to your specific needs.
When you have completed the meeting with your counsellor, you will receive a physical examination to determine your health and wellness as well as take a detox test to see if you have any drugs or alcohol in your system. If you test positive, the detox process will begin. If you test clean and sober, you will begin your treatment plan.
The rehabilitation center will ensure any medications and prescriptions you have will be administered as directed by your doctor every day. Certified physicians will monitor your health and wellbeing, keeping all medicine at the pharmacy at the center as you will not be permitted to keep it with you.
It is best to check beforehand to see what is permitted in your packed bag and what is prohibited at the center. Your counsellor will go through your packed bag with you and ensure no alcohol, drugs, or weapons are within it. Many facilities also do not permit cellphones, computers, or other communication devices.
The detoxification process is designed to eliminate all traces of drugs and alcohol from the system. Most rehabilitation processes include a stage of detoxification at the start. Certain medications may be prescribed to ease symptoms of withdrawal, especially from heroin and other opiate drugs.
The severity of the detox phase depends on a number of factors, including:
- Length of time the drug has been taken
- The person’s unique body type and metabolism rate
- Type of drug and dosage
- If there are any other addictions involved
Detoxification is a safe process when monitored by a trained medical professional. Self-detox is not recommended as it can be severe, even deadly, when mishandled.
Withdrawal symptoms come from the body being used to having a certain substance within the system and then having that substance removed. Symptoms can include issues with:
- Inability to sleep
- Rapid heart rate
- Severe fatigue
- Troubled breathing
- Muscle tension and pain
- Runny nose
- Decreased appetite
- Trembling or shaking
- Heart attack
Some addictions do not require a detox process, but others, such as opiates, heroin, and alcohol, do, and require medications to ease the severity of withdrawal symptoms. Medications differ according to the type of drug taken, but may include:
Used for individuals who do not run the risk of replacing an old addiction with a new one, Methadone is designed and administered to assist in lowering an individual’s dependence on drugs in hopes to remove the addiction altogether.
A preferred alternative to Methadone as it is less likely to cause a new addiction. As with all treatments, this prescription is tapered off to eliminate all dependence on drugs.
Used to ease anxiety during an alcohol detox. This is for reducing the likelihood of seizures during the withdrawal process, decrease withdrawal intensity, and help relieve depression and anxiety.
Though there are many different kinds of rehabilitation centers, most of them follow a similar therapeutic process and system. Centers are structured and organized to ensure the best environment for recovery and to ease stress and uncertainty in those who reside there. A typical day in a rehabilitation center may look like this:
Waking up bright and early to a healthy breakfast and, depending on the facility, a relaxing yoga class or meditation to assist you in starting your day in a positive, hopeful, and relaxed state of mind. Creating these habits will improve your quality of life and become part of your post-discharge routine. Often, you will participate in a therapeutic group session to discuss topics within the treatment process such as the 12-step program, addiction and recovery, and clarifying underlying issues, circumstances, and people that may have assisted you in going down the path to start abusing drugs and/or alcohol. This environment is safe and controlled, designed to assist you in determining patterns and behavior that you can change to avoid triggers in your post-discharge life.
The most intensive treatment usually begins after lunch, however. These treatments often include:
Specialized Sessions – These are tailored to your specific needs as you overcome addiction. Perhaps your session includes stress or anger management, or maybe grief counselling. These offer you techniques to cope so you can improve your ability to handle triggers in a healthy way rather than abusing drugs or alcohol.
Family Therapy – Addiction affects more than the person abusing drugs or alcohol. Bringing in family support can be a powerful tool in ensuring long-term success in post-discharge life.
Group Therapy – Knowing you aren’t alone in your circumstance can bring comfort and encouragement to your recovery process. Participating in group therapy can help create a sense of companionship, providing understanding and sincerity to move forward on your path towards discharge.
When Inpatient Care is not possible or necessary, your counsellor may recommend Outpatient Treatment instead. When this happens, your counsellor will most likely enroll you into a series of group therapy sessions as this is the keystone of most outpatient treatment plans. Whether involving family or as self-help, sessions will be held on either a weekly or daily basis and provide group support in their path to recovery. Individual sessions will also be held to tailor the treatment plan to your specific needs.
Pharmacotherapy, the use of medicine to treat addiction, is another treatment that gets very good response from some patients. The possible medications that could be prescribed to you have many different effects, ranging from making alcohol unpleasant to consume to making one ill when it is consumed to diminishing the desire to drink altogether.
Learning about the effects of addiction and what alcohol does to the body, especially the brain, assists patients in understanding what takes place when alcohol or drugs are consumed. Educating one’s self in addiction and how to overcome it can help a patient take back control of their impulses and unveils addiction’s mysteries.
Outpatient Treatment makes up for lacking the constant support of Inpatient Care by providing its own system of encouragement and assistance. You will have many options when selecting the best support system for your needs. Perhaps you wish to pursue a vocation or further education. Or, for those with lower income, you can receive financial recommendations to help pay for treatment and care.
Aftercare is perhaps one of the most vital steps to living a clean, sober life. Studies suggest that the first 60 days after treatment is the most probable amount of time a patient will experience a relapse while 5 years of aftercare decreases the chances of relapse by 15%. (Staff. (2011). Treatment Statistics. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.)
Commonly called “transitional living”, the circumstances of aftercare depend upon the patient’s support system. Some are fortunate enough to have a supportive family who will tend to and encourage the patient as they complete their treatment. Others will find a different system of support as their previous living conditions still contains stressors and triggers that led them to substance abuse in the first place.
For those individuals who would return to a stressful environment, there are a few options for aftercare. Ongoing therapeutic sessions can be helpful in creating a structured system that keeps patients responsible and accountable through your counsellor’s program. Aftercare can also assist in creating coping mechanisms for handling triggers and stressors met throughout everyday life, preparing patients to take on careers and relationships while diminishing fear of a relapse. These coping methods will prepare patients for the unexpected, helping them handle the ups and downs of life without returning to destructive habits.
After receiving the tools necessary to move forward into everyday life, you may choose to continue keeping your support system close. Perhaps by selecting from a variety of therapeutic exercises such as group or weekend sessions, wilderness therapy, or equine therapy. A few helpful tips in preventing relapse and establishing support during this stage would be to work with a trained therapist to uncover underlying issues that may bring you back into creating destructive habits, to not try to do everything alone, ensuring you have the assistance and support you need to start your new life, and to be aware of co-occurring disorders such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, etc.
One option any recovering addict can take into consideration is taking up residence in a Sober Living Community. Neighborhoods like these can assist recovering patients in their final transition into living everyday life.
These communities create strict schedules to ensure the best is had out of every day and to prevent recovering addicts from falling into an unwanted relapse. They emphasize employment to encourage residents to seek out purpose and meaning in life, to establish goals and pursue long-ignored dreams while settling into the structure and rhythm of a meaningful career. Sober living communities also expect prompt payment of bills through the aforementioned income of a career to instill a sense of responsibility and contribution in recovering patients.
These neighborhoods also have opportunities for patients to serve and improve the lives of those around them, whether through keeping their home clean and cared for or building parks or helping schools. Patients are also encouraged to continue their education in mandatory therapy sessions, ensuring against relapse and assisting those who may have a mental disorder or some other obstacle standing in the way of true recovery. On top of one-on-one therapy, residents of a Sober Living Community may also attend group therapy sessions such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous to build a support group and release any bottled up emotions that may be lingering.
Some communities may require residents to submit to regular urine tests or room searches to prevent patients from bringing in substances that may be detrimental to the health and sobriety of all within the neighborhood.
No addiction is conquered in a day or two. It takes time, dedication, and consistency to reframe a life of addiction into a life of peace and sobriety. These steps may be just what you need to get to where you want to go.