Passaic, New Jersey - A Battle on Heroin Addiction
Passaic, a city in New Jersey has a population of 70,635 and has quickly earned its motto of “The Fastest Growing City in New Jersey”. The city supports the cultural assets of its ever-growing Hispanic residents. There has been an expansion of community gardens and farmer’s markets due to the non-profit organization City Green and a $2 million bus depot has also opened on Main Avenue improving the transportation needs for city residents.
Known as the birthplace of Television, Passaic is also the birth home of actress Zoe Saldana of Avatar and writer Mitch Albom of Tuesdays With Morrie. Passaic is a great tourist destination for those who love a scary haunted house, Brighton Asylum or for those who love outdoor activities like hiking or biking, The Garrett Mountain Reservation. A famous attraction on the reservation is the English style castle built in 1892, Lambert Castle.
Passaic is full of fun sights to see, has beautiful culture and an amazing nature setting. After all, it is located on the Passaic River in the Garden State. Its neighboring areas include Clifton, Woodland Park and Paterson.
Alternatively, like many U.S. cities, Passaic is also facing a drug and alcohol problem. Addiction is a crippling factor in society, 21.5 million people in America battle some sort of substance addiction, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. In Passaic, 24 percent of residents have an alcohol addiction and heroin is a popular drug of choice followed by prescription drugs and cocaine. In 2017, Passaic schools found 48 cases of teens using drugs while state capital, Trenton has 12 cases. Heroin is a popular drug for all of New Jersey and is responsible for 781 deaths in a period of three years.
Drug use is high in many cities around the United States due to some harsh factors like crime rate, unemployment rate and low income. Passaic is no different, with a crime rate of 36 percent, a median income level of $ 33,081 and an unemployment rate of 10.63 percent drug use will increase. Genetics also have a huge factor in drug addiction as well.
New Jersey is aware of the problem the state is facing with heroin addiction. In fact, in 2013, The Overdose Prevention Act was signed into law. This act states that both a witness and a person who overdoses will be give immunity if they call the police for assistance. The Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Prevention organization, founded in 1984 also encourages those fighting with a drug or alcohol addiction to get help. The organization increases public awareness for alcohol, drug and tobacco addiction.
There are many ways to get help with addiction in Passaic, New Jersey. Rehabilitation and Treatment centers are fully designed and equipped for those suffering from drug or alcohol addiction. Passaic and surrounding areas has many inpatient and outpatient options when it comes to rehabilitation.
Inpatient means that a patient stays with the facility that is designed to help a patient through their entire recovery from initial assessment to detox, to therapy to aftercare.
Outpatient means that a patient only stays a partial amount of time or frequently visits a center for therapy, detox and aftercare.
Deciding to get help for drug addiction can be very hard but extremely rewarding. Drug and/or alcohol addiction can lead to many sacrifices in life, loss of job, loss of marriage, loss of family and ultimately, loss of self. Addiction cuts deep and that is why choosing to get help is important, but it also shows strength. When a person who is addicted to drugs and alcohol wants to get help, there’s a process that must be followed to ensure the best, most rewarding results.
Steps of The Rehabilitation Process
Assessment, Pre-Intake and Intake
That process starts with an Assessment. Many facilities refer to it as an assessment, but some will call it a pre-intake. An assessment is a series of tests that are required to ensure that a drug or addiction problem is present. Typically, a doctor, psychologist and counselor will all be present when the assessment takes place. This part of the process is similar to a job interview where many questions are asked and answered. Questions that pertain to medical history, mental health history and substance abuse history. This will lead into another part of the rehabilitation process known as an intake. Although many facilities wrap these processes together. An assessment or pre-intake is meant as a “get to know” sort of meeting while intake, dives further in with a physical examination and a mental health screening. This whole part of the process allows doctors to get a better understanding of what they can do to give a patient the most efficient road to recovery.
Once a road to recovery has been found, it is time to set it into motion. The first stop is detoxification, very commonly known as detox. This is the cleansing period of rehabilitation. All the drugs must be cleared from the system so that the remaining steps in the process can work effectively. Detox is the hardest part of the process since it can lead to withdrawal symptoms. Drugs make the brain feel good while also maintaining functionality. When the drugs are gone so is that feel good feeling which can lead to different types of withdrawal symptoms like nausea, physical pain, headache, hallucinations, chills, fever, etc. The amount of and intensity of the symptoms are dependent on a couple of factors: length of addiction, amount of substance used each time a person got high and mental health status. Since everyone is unique, rehabilitation and detoxification work differently. Some people will have very little symptoms while others become very sick and require medical attention. At times, doctors will prescribe medication to help with some of the overwhelming symptoms like nausea or headache.
Inpatient and Outpatient Treatment
Inpatient treatment requires that a patient be admitted into a facility for 24 hours to 30 days. Some patients can stay even longer. Inpatient treatment is usually broken down into three different parts, RTC, PHP and IOP.
Residential Treatment Center
Residential Treatment Center (RTC) is for a patient that needs around the clock care. Generally, this is the first stop for many people who are addicted to alcohol or drugs. However, there are alternative approaches. The assessment period of the rehabilitation process is usually the pivotal point in deciding if patient goes to RTC, PHP or IOP. However, RTC and PHP are always done before IOP. RTC can help a patient to recover because the patient receives all the help they need, 24/7. A patient resides in the facility to avoid temptation in the outside world. Therapy, group and individual are a huge focal point during this part of the healing process. Once a patient has begun to heal, doctors may decide to loosen up their restrictions such as allowing for family visits or allowing a patient to travel to the grocery store or out to eat at a restaurant.
Once a patient has successfully met all the milestones for RTC, usually release and PHP happens next.
Partial Hospitalization Programs
Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP) is for a patient that isn’t quite healed fully and still needs to have that one on one and group therapy. This program usually allows for a patient to go home and come back to facility 5-7 times a week for 6 hours a day. Therapy is a huge part of this process but learning how to cope outside the treatment center is another big part. Patients are not free to fly on their own because support is still there for a large part of day. However, relapse can and does happen for many patients and PHP has been very helpful in preventing that from happening.
Once a patient has successfully met the milestones for PHP, which is decided by a psychologist, a patient may be recommended for IOP.
Intensive Outpatient Programs
Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP) is for a patient who us just about ready to fly on their own but still needs some support under them. IOP usually takes place outside of a facility but can take place within the same facility that RTC and PHP were completed in. IOP takes place 3 hours a day, 3 days a week and is focused largely on group therapy. IOP is a place to get together with others who are recovering from drug and alcohol addiction and talk about any issues that have come up and gain the support needed to push on with recovery. IOP has been very helpful just as PHP has in stopping relapse from happening with many people. Unfortunately, relapse still does happen and RTC, PHP and IOP will all go over the signs and symptoms of what relapse looks like.
IOP also has a family therapy option so that family members can show their support in their loved one’s recovery. Family counseling has always been rewarding for the entire family.
Aftercare and Sober Living
Recovery is a life long process, even when a patient has been released from rehab and has gone through PHP and IOP. Relapse is a continuous obstacle that those who suffer from addiction will face. Alcohol Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are great places to continue to get the support that is needed to push forward with recovery. AA and NA are full of people who are trying to do the very same thing, recover and stay away from addictions. Support is huge in places like these so when it comes to fighting off the urge, it’s important to not fight it alone. The meetings are designed to keep people on the straight and narrow.
Aftercare means taking care of oneself, flying solo or almost. Recovering addicts do not ever have to be fully alone in their journey thanks to these meetings. Within these meetings, sponsors can be found, and they are available whenever needed to keep a person on track as well. There is absolutely no reason to try to do it all alone. Aftercare is there for the sole purpose of community people helping other community people. It’s a joint effort.
Sober Living Houses do the exact same thing. Sober Living Houses are designed for recovering addicts who are not quite ready to try to fly solo yet. Therapy can be implemented in these houses as well as living with others who are going through their own battles with recovery. Sober Living Houses is great place to find support while also trying to get back up on one’s feet. Addiction takes a lot away from a person- friends, residence, family, marriage, kids, job, etc. Sober Living Houses can help to give some of those back while also offering the support needed to stay away from addictive behavior that leads to relapse. Since there are multiple people living in the house, the feeling of being alone will go down drastically.
Sober Living Houses have some rules that must be followed, and a contract must be signed before moving in. Residents must smoke in areas designated, there is no alcohol or drugs allowed and sexual relations with other residents of the house is not allowed either. If these rules are broken, a resident can lose their place in the house. Alternatively, depending on what house rule is broken, sometimes a more lenient approach is taken such as attending group meetings more regularly.
Sober living goes beyond these houses however. Sober living means carrying the tools and techniques that were taught in RTC and PHP and the affirmations learned in IOP and putting them to use. It means dropping old friends who continue to push alcohol or drugs and won’t take no for an answer. It means cutting out negative people from one’s life. It means choosing to actively participate in meetings and talk about how one is truly feeling. It means getting up everyday and making it a good one. Sadness sets in when a person lay around without sunlight and without much movement which can lead to depression, alcohol and drugs. It’s important to keep busy during recovery. Find a hobby. Take some classes. Do something that allows a constructive outflow. There are so many different great options for recovering addicts. Most importantly, continue therapy.
Relapse is a reality that far too many people who are trying to stay sober fall into. It just takes one little slip up to wreck months of therapy. The desire to drink again or to do drugs will be there and sometimes it will be so overwhelming, it’ll be almost impossible to resist it. Unfortunately, that is why many people end up relapsing. But some people end up relapsing because life after rehab is hard to adjust back to. Rehab takes care of a lot of the human needs and so bouncing back can be hard. That’s why aftercare and sober living houses is a great option. There are always people who are willing to offer any sort of support that is needed and many of them do it without asking a single question. They just lend their ear for listening or a shoulder to cry on. Falling into relapse is not the end. If it happens, it’s important to get back up and do what is needed to find recovery once more. Falling isn’t bad. It’s just important to get back up and keep fighting a good fight and there are so many people who will cheer a person on, as long as they know they are willing to fight for it.
Heroin addiction is a real problem in the state of New Jersey, but drugs as a whole is an even bigger problem for America. Facing addiction seems too hard for many people and continuing to do drugs allows for the avoidance of all the hard work it takes to get clean. So, people continue to take drugs but now the problem has reached schools and more children are overdosing because of it. A movement in the war on drugs in needed but that starts with a single person admitting they need help. There is no shame in getting help and there is no shame in asking for it either. Movements happens because one person chose to stand up and fight. Addiction is a personal battle and one’s recovery is their own personal journey but keeping the children of the world safe from drug addiction should be everyone’s fight. Addiction is personal, but there is no reward in keeping it a secret. Teaching the children of the world how to hide addiction only creates a monstrous problem that we won’t be able to come back from.
It’s important to get help so children can get the help they need to.