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Tennessee Addiction Treatment
Tennessee remains one of the most problematic states in the United States in terms of the number of people trapped in the clutches of drug and alcohol abuse. In fact, for some years now, it could not get out of the top 5 states in America with a high prevalence of incidence. Luckily, Tennessee drug and alcohol rehabs offer care for those suffering from addiction.
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Tennessee Addiction Treatment
A large concentration of the problem can be found in the Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin metropolitan statistical area (MSA), which is not surprising because it has the largest population density in the state.
According to government 2010 data, nearly 12,000 residents of the state were enrolled in rehab facilities to undergo substance abuse therapy. More than 3 in 10 of the patients were females.
The state government is spending millions to curb the addiction rate. But the easy access to prescription drugs, alcohol, and hard drugs like heroin has been quite a challenge to police and health authorities.
To date, the rising menace of prescription opioid has been quite a headache.
In fact, Tennessee ranks second in the country, next only to Alabama, in terms of prescription opioid abuse. An article from The Tennessean published in 2016 claimed that there are more opioids in the state compared to residents.
In 2014 data, 1,263 Tennessee residents died of an overdose from opioid prescription.
In 2015, there were 7.8 million opioid prescriptions in the whole state (against the 6.5 million population). Believe it or not, that was actually a reduction compared to the 8.5 million prescriptions back in 2013, so clearly, the government is not ignoring the problem.
However, the scourge still persists.
Part of the problem is that opiods—if they are not abused—do work in alleviating chronic and debilitating pain. Health authorities have been working closely with doctors to make sure they are conservative with their prescriptions and avoid leftover pills. Patients are also closely monitored for signs of abuse.
Opioid Addiction in Tennassee
In terms of preferred opioids, oxycodone and hydrocodone are right up there. These painkillers are heavily regulated and patients can buy them from a pharmacy without a doctor’s prescription. However, the fact is that a large quantity still ends up in the black market. Health authorities also recognize the danger that pharmacies in the state now sell naloxone, which is a medication that can save the life of an overdosed user before he or she is brought to the hospital.
Authorities are in the bind to curb the distribution of painkillers. In fact, 7 in 10 of the addicts get their supply from family members and friends. An almost insignificant number of people source their drugs from the friendly neighborhood dealer. The 2010 data revealed that almost 3,400 Tennesseans were enrolled in a drug treatment facility due to opioid addiction. More than half of them were men while women represented 42.4 percent of the total.
Between 2011 and 2015, more than 6,000 Tennessee residents died from an overdose. During that period, the mortality rates per 100,000 people also rose each year from 16.6 percent in 2011 to 22 percent in 2015.
In the seven years between 2006 and 2012, the number of elderly patients wheeled to the emergency rooms in the state rose 78 percent. More disconcerting was that the number of infants who exhibited symptoms of withdrawal from opioids continues to rise since 2013.
Factors That Contribute to High Prevalence
There are several factors that contribute to the high prevalence of opioid addiction in the state. To be fair, the state authorities have already recognized these causes, and are doing something to address these recurring issues.
- Carelessness of health experts. As already mentioned, doctors seemed to have an almost careless attitude when they are prescribing painkillers. As health agencies maintained, potent painkillers with potential for abuse should be heavily regulated. They must only be prescribed when all other avenues have already been exhausted.
- Drug addicts have become quite ingenious. They visit several doctors to get multiple prescriptions for an opioid. They will then purchase the medicines from different pharmacies so they won’t be found out. This is also the same method why a good quantity of drugs ends up in the black market.
- Some patients underestimate the risks. Even if they were warned by their physicians not to take more than necessary, the euphoria associated with taking the opioids—along with taking away the pain—is very addictive. Soon enough, they are already hooked on drugs.
- Shame and guilt. The shame and guilt prevent the users from seeking treatment for their substance abuse problem. They isolate themselves from family and friends and suffer in silence.
The good news is that more and more doctors are aware of the dangers and so they limit the number of painkillers prescribed to patients, the report from the State Department of Mental Health revealed. However, people are turning more to heroin instead. Data showed that the number of heroin drug dependents jumped 800% from 2009 up to 2016. Drug agents also registered more than 600 arrests in 2016 compared to just 82 in 2009, said the report.
What’s more alarming is that heroin overdose deaths ballooned to 350% between 2012 and 2015.
Is Your Child Using Heroin? Spot the Early Warning Signs
Watch out for physiological changes in your teenager if you suspect that he or she is using drugs. Heroin abuse typically has the following physical symptoms:
- Dry mouth
- Flushed skin
- Spaced out
- Always scratching
- Shallow breathing
You can also look for behavioral changes in your kid. These include:
- Lashing out at authority, including you
- Seemingly always angry or depressed
- Always drowsy
- Skipping school or school activities
- Skipping family events and celebrations
- Always locking himself/herself inside the room
- Poor grades
Of course, it may not mean that your kid is into drugs but if you really suspect something and your child is not talking to you, maybe a search in the room may be necessary. Privacy can be an issue, but then again saving your kid’s life is much more important. Look for heroin paraphernalia like syringes, needles, and the like.
Apart from prescription opioid, Tennessee is actually among the top-ranked states in terms of methamphetamine abuse. Accordingly, there are 800 laboratories in the state producing heroin. It’s said that to dismantle one laboratory, it will cost taxpayers about $4,000 so it’s a huge burden on the state’s coffers, as well.
Even if the US Drug Enforcement Agency already sounded the alarm of the dangers of meth to the inner communities in the country, nobody is really talking about it because of the high-profile deaths caused by prescription drugs, cocaine, and heroin.
Meth actually has been around for a long time. This was used by the Japanese Imperial Army and the Nazi to make their soldiers last long in battle even if sleep-deprived. Another added benefit was that the soldiers lose their inhibitions, which make them even more brutal and added to the whole intimidation factor.
In fact, meth is even more dangerous because it’s purely synthetic, unlike cocaine and heroin which are manufactured from the coca plant and poppy seeds, respectively. The active ingredient in meth is ephedrine, which is what you will see in medicines for the common cold.
They mix ephedrine with synthetic chemicals like ammonia (can cause blindness), acetone (extremely flammable), hydrochloric acid (which will eat away flesh and steel), lithium (the corrosive material found in batteries), Toluene (highly corrosive chemical), sulfuric acid and sodium hydroxide (both corrosive materials).
Meth is one of the few chemicals that can damage a person’s brain. The direct link between this drug and violent crime is undeniable.
Spotting a Meth Lab
There are 800 meth labs in the state. And there are telltale signs that somebody’s cooking inside the house. Among these red flags are:
- Windows are heavily tinted or blacked out
- Chemical drums being brought inside the house or parked outside the property
- Hoses inserted into openings (typically windows or vents)
- Heavy odor of solvent coming from the inside
- Heavy security (CCTV, warning signs, dogs)
- Activity during odd hours
What makes meth dangerous is that it’s even cheaper compared to heroin, and that has built a reputation for being a “poor man’s cocaine.” Much of the meth smuggled into the USA come from Mexico, which has huge laboratories that dwarf Tennessee’s own. The large quantities drove down the price per gram. Ironically, commercial production actually improved the grade of the drug, which makes today’s meth twice more potent compared to the old products.
A number of meth addicts actually were already dependent on the opioid. Their addiction to a prescription may have pushed them to the brink that a cheaper alternative is necessary to sustain the high.
Alcohol Abuse in Tennessee
Apart from prescription opioids, hard drugs, and heroin, Tennessee is also struggling with alcohol abuse. Alcoholism is actually a much bigger threat compared to illicit drugs because of how seemingly harmless it is at the outset. Everybody’s doing it in the open so it must be safe.
In the state, 6 in 10 of the residents in treatment facilities are addicted to alcohol. In 2016, 1 in 20 residents of the state was an alcoholic. It must be noted, however, that the data only includes those who actually register for a private or public treatment program. There’s a lot out there who are in denial of their true condition.
Males are four times more likely to become addicted to alcohol compared to females.
That same year, the state police recorded more than 27,000 apprehensions for driving under the influence.
What Makes Alcohol So Addictive?
According to National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, almost 9 in 10 people in the US who are 18 years or older have tried alcohol at least once. Almost 27% of the total said that they binged on alcohol the past month.
Data showed that more than 15 million adults in the US had alcohol use disorder (AUD), which is another term to describe somebody who is addicted to alcohol. Of this number, 64% are men. But the number of people who seek treatment are not even eight percent.
The number of deaths attributed to alcohol abuse is very alarming. In fact, in the next 60 minutes, alcohol would have claimed another 10 lives.
Alcohol is addictive because it stimulates dopamine and endorphin production. But first, you need to know about the two types of neurotransmitters in our brain—the inhibitory and the excitatory. When you consume alcohol, your body accelerates the production of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). The inhibitory effects are what makes you act drunk such as difficulty talking and walking, and also trigger temporary amnesia.
When you consume alcohol in the long-term, your body flips. As GABA increases, your brain has to produce the excitatory neurotransmitter known as glutamate because the body is all about balance and harmony. This is why the more you drink, the higher your tolerance level will be. It’s this chemical reaction inside your body, and your brains attempt to regain control.
There are two hormones that will be released when you drink alcohol:
Dopamine is also called the pleasure hormone because it’s what your brain releases every time you do something that excites you. Sex releases a lot of dopamine, for instance, and so does exercise.
When released naturally, dopamine helps you shed off the excess weight and make you feel like the king of the world. Alcohol will trigger dopamine and your brain will subsequently reward your body with a euphoric feeling. For the most part, that’s why you feel like you have no problems when you drink. However, when you abuse alcohol, the synthetic chemicals will damage the receptor sites where dopamine moves. This is why you crash and feel depressed. The only way to counteract it is to drink more.
When you drink, your central nervous system will then release a lot of endorphins. The endorphin is our body’s natural answer to painkillers. As a direct effect, it also makes you feel euphoric and alive. This is also called the “runner’s high.” Basically, the higher the alcohol levels, the higher the endorphin levels. The more you drink, the more pleasurable it becomes. This is what makes it addictive.
Predilection for Alcohol Abuse
Unfortunately, some people’s genetic makeup contains the addiction gene. This means they are more prone to abusing alcohol or drugs compared to the average population. The American Society of Addictions Medicine placed the risks at about half.
This is actually a good thing because you can watch yourself. If your father or grandfather has problems with liquor, it’s a good chance that you inherited the addiction gene, as well. However, there’s a distinction between likelihood and actual alcohol abuse. The risks are higher for the individual but it doesn’t always guarantee that it will happen.
What makes it very difficult for researchers is that the addiction gene has not yet been mapped out. It’s a theory that has been proven time and again. But despite the term, it’s not a single gene that will increase your tendency toward alcoholism.
Contributory Factors to Substance Abuse
There are a number of reasons why people become alcoholics and drug addicts. The top reason, of course, is that they never thought they are at risk in the first place. Again, drinking with friends seems harmless enough because if it’s as dangerous as what all health officials claim, why isn’t it banned from the shelves?
Here are some of the factors:
- Wanting to escape a particular situation. For those whose problems in life seems to be insurmountable, liquor offers a safe refuge because they momentarily feel good and forget about their problems. However, as their tolerance increases so does their consumption
- Those who start at an early age are twice as likely to grow into an alcoholic. The magic number seems to be 14-years-old.
- Everybody else is doing it. Peer pressure plays a part, too, because your friends are out drinking and you are pressured into joining the fun, as well.
- In relation to that, pop culture also depicts people who drink alcohol as manly or cool, which is one of the reasons why more men become alcoholics compared to women
- Easily available. You can buy alcohol anywhere once you are legally authorized to purchase one. Accessibility makes it easier for you to feed your addiction unlike with drugs, which are harder to come by.
The link between alcoholism and mental health should be highlighted as well. People may think that alcoholism will deteriorate the mental faculty, which is true, but those who have trouble controlling their urge to drink alcohol have been found to have some clinical mental issue.
Link between Addiction and Crime
The complex interrelationship between drug addiction and crime has been proven time and again.
The Office of the Justice Programs has some grim statistics on drug-influenced crimes. About 18% of inmates in federal and state prisons confessed that they committed the crime to get money to support their vices. The study was made in 2004 and the number of drug-related crimes is increasing.
A number of violent crimes such as homicide and murder have been attributed to drugs, as well. Although the percentage is much lower at just a shade number, four percent of the 14,831 homicides is recorded in 2007. Killings are not specifically targeted to civilians because some murders have occurred through turf wars, drug trading or manufacturing.
Between 1995 and 2000, 4 in 10 college students who were victims of violent crimes reported that the perpetrator was under the influence. Sexual assault was also a common offense by a person whose brain is addled by drugs.
Surprisingly, the 1995 Substance Abuse and Treatment of Adults on Probation study by the bureau revealed that 10% of inmates who used drugs at the time of the crime were under the influence of marijuana or hashish. Crack cocaine was only four percent while heroin was one percent.
Drugs in the Domicile
Unfortunately, the effects of drugs are felt most behind closed doors.
Domestic abuse is almost a guaranteed offshoot of drug abuse. The abuse will come in many forms, and not just physical violence that will easily manifest through bruises and abrasions. There’s also economic abuse, which occurs when the spouse (mostly female, 85% of them in fact) is deprived of her financial resources. Another form of abuse is psychological, which in many ways is even more devastating compared to physical abuse.
Psychological abuse has many benefits for the drug user considering that the wife will become totally submissive that he gets total control in the relationship. In most cases, the wife is co-opted to share the drugs. Prostitution is not uncommon in this setup as the wife is forced to sell her body to support the couple’s addiction.
Sexual abuse is also common, although women are less likely to report this one considering society’s expectations that the wife should always be available to satiate the sexual urges of the husband.
More than 20% of crimes in the domicile are drug-related. Men have reported that they used drugs or alcohol prior to the physical aggression. Women in the country are eight times more likely to experience violence from their partners.
Estimates reveal that three women are murdered by their partners every day in the United States. About 25% of the women reported that they experienced some form of abuse from their boyfriend or husband at one point in their lives.
The non-profit Futures Without Violence compiled a list of bleak data on domestic violence. Among the key findings are:
- Women who are more likely to experience domestic violence are those from the ages of 20-24
- Seven million children in the US live in homes where domestic abuse is a regular occurrence
- 5 million children in the US live in homes where a spouse experienced abuse at the hands of the partner at least once in the past year
- The probability of women victims to develop a stroke is 80%. The probability of developing heart disease is 70% and they are 70% more likely to become alcoholics or drug addicts, as well.
It must be said, however, that substance abuse doesn’t necessarily lead to domestic abuse. That would be a false statement because there are thousands of addicts who have never committed violence toward another person. However, if the person has a predilection for violence, chemical substances will likely drop his self-control.
Unfortunately, a number of women do not pursue a case and forgive their partners for a number of reasons:
- They feel guilty about sending their loved ones in prison
- Their self-esteem is so low that they believe they deserve whatever abuse is heaped upon them
- They are still dependent upon their spouse, money-wise
Also, abusers often justify their behavior by saying that they suffered abuse as a child, and they didn’t know better. Because of the abuse, they have difficulty controlling their anger because they could no longer exact revenge on the perpetrator. Instead, they lash out at those who are weaker than themselves.
They will also claim that the stress and pressure—whatever the trigger may be—pushed them to act out.
In the end, however, it’s still a choice. Regardless of the drug of choice, it’s still a conscious effort to close their hands into a fist and hurl it toward their partners.
Popular Drug-related Crimes in Tennessee
Tennessee has been one of the prime targets of drug cartels; thus, it is no surprise that the state has been plagued by crimes related to drug addiction. Few of the popular incidences that made the headlines were the following:
- Partnership of drug cartels and local gangs. The aim was to distribute drugs to the entire. According to TBI Director Mark Gwyn, this partnership has led to a spike in gang violence. Gangs took over smaller communities and towns since there is not much resistance happening. From 348 drug-and-gang-related crimes in 2011, the number has gone up to 438 in 2016.
- Major drug bust. Law enforcers in Clarksville, Tennessee have run a major drug bust operation, which lasted for eight months. Every week, they would reveal the large quantities of drugs (such as meth, prescription drugs, cocaine, and marijuana) and firearms.
- Collaboration of a surgical assistant and patient. Family Foot Center former surgical assistant Timothy Preston managed to continually give a patient prescription medications even after the physician released him from the hospital.
How Drugs Devastate Communities
The US Government is spending about $51 billion annually on its war on drugs. In fact, since 2012, the country already shelled out more than $1 trillion to lick the scourge that grips mostly its poor communities.
This draconian approach to the drug menace can be traced back to President Richard Nixon who declared open season against drug traffickers.
War On Drugs
The war on drugs itself has been the subject of a lot of criticisms, not least of which is the fact that more blacks are sent to prison compared to whites. This could be attributed to the fact that more African-American drug dealers operate in their turf, out there on the streets, where they are comfortable and enjoy some sort of protection from their peers. In contrast, Caucasian drug dealers are more circumspect so it’s harder to pin them down.
The prejudice is also apparent in the courtroom because on average, the sentencing for the African-American is longer on the same drug offense.
But one arrest can destroy multiple lives. Children whose fathers are in prison for drug offenses struggle to cope and are much more likely to drop out of school. With scant choices, they end up following in the footsteps of their fathers.
Communities perceived to be drug-riddled are also isolated from the rest of America. Investors shy away, businesses close down, private schools move to “safer” areas and what you have left is a public school system that’s exploding to the seams with the student population. Pretty soon, the neighborhood is stuck in a quicksand it couldn’t get out of.
The NY Times reported that there never was a clear policy on why the government clamped down on marijuana. But the decision was stoked by paranoia regarding the influx of immigrants coming in, particularly from China and Mexico.
What Happened in the Past?
During the early 1900s, marijuana was being sold on shelves openly for recreational and medicinal purposes. To recall, cocaine was also used by pioneer doctors to prescribe as a painkiller before it was banned.
There was a lot of paranoia about the use of marijuana by the immigrants and the poor black communities and how they became immoral afterward. All crimes were then blamed on the drug, without as much as a comprehensive study to establish the link. In 1939, the Marijuana Tax Act was enacted, which pretty much doomed the herb.
Of course, today more and more states have allowed marijuana dispensaries for medical and recreational use.
The Aftermath of War On Drugs
The war on drugs didn’t stop the smuggling of drugs into the country’s borders. It didn’t stop destroying inner cities and isolating communities. What it did, however, was swamp the country’s prison system with inmates whose sentences are disproportionate to the crimes committed. In turn, a vicious cycle of abuse is created.
The maxim “It takes a village to raise a child” is no longer true in modern America. Older people must wax nostalgic about the time when kids can roam around the neighborhood at night and play in the streets. After school, when the parents are away, they can depend on their neighborhoods to pick up the kids.
Then traffickers flooded the neighborhoods with drugs. Suddenly, teenagers wear expensive jewelry, brandish guns and shop without even looking at the price tag. They create a culture and brotherhood that are very attractive to impressionable minds. Young kids grow up on violence that murders and robberies have become the new normal. Why go to school and slave for a company when there’s easy money to earn?
Which Substance is Most Harmful?
It is a gray area considering the number of factors that must be taken into account. If by prevalence alone, alcohol trumps all the other addictive substances by a mile. It can also be argued that cigarettes should be up there, as well, considering the mortality rate.
However, alcohol and cigarettes enjoy the cloak of legality, which is why they are easily accessible. A study by The Lancet in the UK in 2010 showed an almost equal harmful effect on the self and to others for alcohol. In contrast, cocaine and heroin pose more harm to users than to others.
Nevertheless, in that study, crack cocaine and heroin were right up there in the list of the most dangerous drugs. Meth was slowly creeping up on the two drugs (note that this was in 2010 when the price of meth was still prohibitive). Then you have a variety of prescription opioids in varying order of risks.
However, the study was panned because it oversimplified the harmful effects of the substances while failing to take into account the environment, genetic tendencies, or the tendency of some users to mix different drugs for a greater high.
Drug Addiction – Beyond Health Issue
It’s hard to make a policy on a knee-jerk reaction. Policy-makers should institute an all-encompassing plan to address drug addiction not just as a health issue but also a political, and peace and order issue, as well.
With drug use, you can play the old game, “Six Degrees of Separation.” The object of that game is to test the theory that everybody is interconnected. You can’t go more than five interrelationships without finding a common connection with somebody else.
If you don’t know anyone in your immediate family who isn’t hooked on drugs, it would be downright impossible to go more than six intermediaries without finding a drug addict that you or your friends know.
Looking at it through that lens, you can appreciate more how pervasive drug use is in the country.
Tennessee State Government Intervention
Recognizing the clear and present danger brought by drug and alcohol addiction, the Tennessee Department of Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services has outlined several programs to help its residents.
Apart from providing help, the policy-making body also crafts a comprehensive plan that will reduce the prevalence and get the state out of the dubious ranking of places with very high incidents of drug abuse.
Among the services are:
- Crisis detoxification
- Financial assistance for rehab (those eligible needs to check the poverty demarcation yardstick)
- Substance abuse treatment
- Treatment for at-risk individuals (pregnant women, children, etc.)
There’s also the Recovery Support Services, which is quite underrated in its significance to the recovering addict. Those who have been to rehab suffer the stigma of their experience. Chances are, employers are not knocking on their doors to offer them a job out of fear that they will fall off the wagon in the future.
This is where the state comes in.
Those who are eligible can get their own case manager who will monitor their progress. They will also get community and spiritual support, periodic drug testing, skills training, relapse prevention, shelter, transportation and help the recovering addict find a job from its list of partners.
Laws and Penal Provisions on Drugs and Alcohol in Tennessee
Tennessee currently ranks eighth in the country with the most number of overdose deaths so it stands to reason that it takes its drug laws very seriously. The state encourages drug-free workplaces, which means random tests may be required of employees, especially applicants coming into the job. In fact, businesses that avail of the program can get discounts on their compensation insurance premiums.
Random drug testing may also be employed on supervisors or employees assigned to sensitive positions, or in the aftermath of a workplace accident that is clearly the fault of an employee, when the employer suspects that the employee is using during the annual medical exam, or if the employee is a recovering addict.
A person who tests positive will not be outrightly dismissed. The due process is that he or she is given a few days to contest the results. The employee may also submit himself or herself to a rehab program, in which case that should not be grounds to discriminate him or her.
The procedure is tightly monitored by the state, and employees’ right to privacy is always respected.
- Simple possession or casual exchange. Simple possession is considered a minor offense and it’s really at the discretion of the prosecution to charge you with this. Typically, a person who is arrested for the first time will be charged with this offense. There’s also felony possession, sale charge or trafficking which carry harsher penalties.
But simple possession will also net up to one-year imprisonment or a maximum of $2,500 in fines. If you are arrested for the same change, the case is elevated to Class E felony which means from one to six years jail time or $3,000 in fines.
You will also be ordered to undergo rehab, depending on the court order.
Possession doesn’t mean that you carry the contraband with you. If you are caught inside a dwelling where drugs are found, you can also be charged with the same offense.
- Possession with intent. If authorities recover drugs from you more than the quantity allowed for simple possession, you will be charged with possession with intent. That means, you no longer carry the drugs for personal consumption but with intent to sell it for profit.
However, that’s just the charge. The prosecution will still prove without a doubt that you intend to sell the drugs rather than for recreational use. Oftentimes, this is very difficult to prove which is why the charges are typically downgraded to simple possession.
Drug paraphernalia and tools like weighing scales, repacking items, and unexplained cash will all be used as evidence to prove the state’s case that you intend to sell the drugs.
- Possession with intent is a felony offense. You will be stripped of a lot of your rights including suffrage and the right to bear arms. You will also face a longer prison time and your record be scarred for life. After they get you, it’s highly likely that you will be placed on probation and report to your probationary officer. Employment opportunities will also dwindle to almost zero.
Another variation is the sale of a controlled substance, which also happens when you are caught in the act of selling the substance to an undercover agent. Regardless of the quantity, this offense is considered a felony although the sentence will depend on the amount of drugs found in your possession as well as prior felonies.
- Drug trafficking. The perpetrator may face drug trafficking charges if he is suspected of being involved in production, distribution, smuggling, and sale of large volumes of controlled substances. The federal laws have set a benchmark for the least possible penalties for violators. This is a serious legal offense and will result in a lengthy prison time.
There are aggravating factors that may increase the penalty and prison time. For instance, if the criminal is caught selling the contraband near a school. If the controlled substance crosses state lines, or if the contraband is classified under Schedule I drug, as opposed to marijuana, which is categorized as Schedule IV drug.
- Manufacturing of drugs carry a very long prison sentence and there’s no possibility of parole so you have to serve the last day of that sentence. As already mentioned, there are about 800 meth labs in the state so the government is not taking this lightly. If you are guilty of drug manufacturing, the law will certainly institute the harshest penalty possible.
The minimum sentence for this offense is a one-year prison term. Again, there are aggravating circumstances which will add to the penalty.
Penalties for Marijuana Offenses
While other states have liberalized the laws on cannabis, Tennessee still has one of the rigid rules around. SB 2531 was enacted in May 2014, and the law amended twice since then. However, critics have pointed out that the medical applications are still somewhat limited under the law’s definition. For instance, the cannabis oil for medicinal purposes should contain no more than 0.9% THC. It can also be prescribed to patients suffering from severe seizures. Cannabis oil should also come only from a university laboratory and the clinical trials have all the certification from the government.
The patient in Tennessee should be:
- Registered to be included in a clinical research
- Diagnosed with a seizure disorder and similar conditions
- Strictly monitored by the physician or medical facility
- Refrain from possessing cannabis with more than 0.9% THC
Possession of marijuana or casual exchange
This is a Class A misdemeanor offense if the contraband is less than .5 ounce. The minimum fine is $250 and subsequent violations at $500 and $750 on second and third offense. The offense will be upgraded to a felony if the suspect knowingly sold drugs to a minor. If the suspect is caught planting between 20 to 99 plants, it’s considered as a Class C felony and will carry a fine of up to $100,000.
Sale of marijuana
The sale of weed is considered a felony. If caught possessing between 5 oz. to 10 pounds, it’s considered as Class E felony and carries a fine of $5,000. If caught possessing more than 10 pounds up to 70 pounds, it’s considered as Class D felony and carries a penalty of $50,000. For 70 pounds or more, the penalty rises to $200,000. If caught possessing more than 700 pounds of pot, the fine is $500,000. If caught with more than 300 pounds of weed, you will face between 15 and 60 years jail time.
If you sell to a minor near a school, church or places considered as a drug-free zone, your penalty will be one grade higher.
If you are caught cultivating marijuana and the number of plants ranges between 100 and 499, it’s considered a felony and will carry from eight to 30 years imprisonment along with $200,000 in fines. If you are caught with more than 500 marijuana plants, you may get prison term as long as 60 years, along with $500,000 in fines.
Possession of marijuana concentrates
This one is considered a misdemeanor and will probably land you in jail for 11 months in addition to $2,500 in fines.
Manufacture and sale of marijuana concentrate
For less than two pounds, the felony charge will carry six years of jail time in addition to $5,000 in fines; for contraband weighing between two and four pounds, it carries a 12-year jail term in addition to $50,000 in fines.
Possession of weed measuring between four and eight pounds will possibly land you in jail for 15 years, along with a penalty amounting to $100,000. Weed weighing between eight pounds and 15 pounds carries 30 years in prison, along with $200,000 in fines. Lastly, if the sale is more than 15 pounds, the prison term may reach as long as 60 years including half a million dollars in fines.
If ever you love your weed, make sure never to step foot in the state because there’s a crackdown happening.
Alcohol Laws in Tennessee
Just like its laws on marijuana, Tennessee doesn’t take too kindly to people under the legal age consuming their spirits. Most states allow children to drink alcohol in a religious ceremony for instance, and they are also quite lax when parents allow their children to drink alcohol inside their premises (but not to the point of endangering the child).
In Tennessee, that’s not happening.
If you are under 21, you can’t drink communion wine at church for a religious tradition.
For underage consumption, the penalty varies. If you are underage, you will be tried as a juvenile offender. If you are between 18 and 20 years old and you purchase alcohol, you will be sent to the adult court and face your fate.
First offense underage consumption
If you are convicted, you may face up to a year in prison. You may also be placed under probation for a certain period, along with a fine of $2,500. You may also serve 100 hours of community service. For first offenses, however, and if you have no prior record, the judge will usually downgrade the sentence to community service and expunge your record of the violation
However, if you are unlucky enough, the record will stay for the rest of your life. It’s a high price to pay for a brief miscalculation and some critics agree. But it is the law in the state.
Selling of Alcohol in Tennessee
The state is pretty rigid on the regulations of the sale of liquors. Grocery stores are allowed to carry only beer (with an alcohol volume of 8%) and wine on their shelves. For liquors, you may need to visit a liquor store. The establishment will need to get a liquor license from the state, and this means the store is properly vetted.
You can also buy at designated time window. For the grocery and liquor stores, you can only buy from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. from Monday to Saturday. On Sunday, only beer is allowed to be sold. All bars are ordered closed by 3 a.m.
If you are drinking inside a bar, you may do so from 8 a.m. until 3 a.m. in the morning from Monday to Saturday. On Sunday, you are limited to purchase from 10 a.m. until 3 a.m.
Holidays won’t give you much reprieve. In fact, it’s downright illegal for establishments to sell alcohol on Fourth of July, Christmas Day, New Year, Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve.
With that said, there are 14 counties in the state that don’t allow the purchase of wine and liquor. These are Crockett, Fentress, Hancock, Houston, Johnson, Lake, Macon, McNairy, Meigs, Morgan, Pickett, Rhea, Stewart, and Union.
Anyone who uses a false ID to try to buy alcohol will face a fine of between $50 and $200. They may also be put in prison for five days and up to one month. Their driver’s license may also be suspended. A 16-year-old who is caught in possession of alcohol may face a suspended license of up to two years. That means his license will be reinstated only when he becomes 18.
The homeowner or business owner who allows a person under 21 to drink within his premises will face a penalty. A liquor store may face suspension of his permit if he knowingly sells spirits to an underage customer.
Driving Under the Influence
It’s illegal to get behind a wheel if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The blood alcohol concentration level in the state is 0.08%. For those who are under 21, the BAC is 0.02%. Different individuals have varied reactions to alcohol. The rule of thumb is that you can consume one 12 oz. beer per hour and still fall within the legal BAC limit. Of course, some are predisposed to react more violently towards alcohol than others so they tend to have higher BAC even when consuming the standard drink.
First offense DUI
- If this is your first offense, you can face imprisonment from two days up to 11 months. If you have a BAC of 0.20, you will spend a minimum time of one week inside the cell.
- Your license may be suspended for a year, although you will be given a restricted license in place
- Legal fees
- Ordered to undergo rehab for alcohol and drugs
- An ignition interlock device (IID) may be installed in your vehicle
Second offense DUI
- You may spend one and a half months in jail up to 11 months and 29 days
- Your license will be suspended for up to two years
- You will pay a fine of between $600 and $3,500
- You will be ordered to undergo a drug and alcohol treatment program
- Your car may be impounded
- An IID may be installed in your vehicle
- You make amends in case of damage to property or personal loss
- If you are arrested for second DUI within five years, the IID won’t be taken off your vehicle until after six months
Third offense DUI
- Jail time from four months up to 11 months and 20 days
- Imprisonment for 120 days to 11 months, 29 days
- Your license may be revoked for up to six years, but you will be issued a restricted license
- You will be ordered to enroll in a drug and alcohol rehab program
- You will pay a minimum of $1,100 up to $10,000
- Your vehicle may be impounded or seized
- An IID will be installed in your vehicle (the device will stay for up to six months)
Fourth offense DUI
- For the fourth offense, the DUI is already elevated as Class E felony
- You will serve time in prison for a minimum of one year (five months of which should be served consecutively
- Fine of a minimum of $3,000 and the maximum of $15,000
- Your license will be revoked up to eight years
- You will be ordered to undergo a drug and alcohol treatment program
- Your car will be impounded and seized at the discretion of the court
- An ignition interlock device will be installed in your vehicle (take note that you will buy the device yourself)
Injuries and Property Damage
In case you are driving under the influence and you caused serious injury to a pedestrian, it’s considered as a Class D felony by the state. You will face jail time of up to 12 years, with a minimum service of two years before you are eligible for a parole. Your license will be revoked at least one year but not more than five years. The judge will have to consider prior offenses to determine how long to suspend your license. You will not be allowed to go behind the wheel until after your suspension is lifted. Apart from the fines, you will be ordered to pay the legal fees and remuneration to the victim.
If you have an underage passenger and he or she suffers serious injuries, you will be charged with child endangerment and get a jail time from two years up to 12 years. If your passenger expires as a result of the DUI, you will spend eight years, at least, in prison but not more than 30 years. Your license may be revoked permanently.
You will be charged with vehicular homicide if you are driving under the influence and killed somebody in a road incident. This is classified by the state as Class B felony.
DUI Statistics in Tennessee
According to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, there were 3,423 killed in DUI driving between 2003 and 2012. However, that’s still lower than the national average. Whereas there were 6.7 deaths per 100,000 in the state, the national average was 9.3.
Federal and state governments have not been remiss in their duties to educate drivers about the dangers of DUI. However, the number of arrests has been steadily increasing in Tennessee. For instance, in 1995, there were 12,102 DUI arrests in the state. In 2007, the number was up at 27,178. The increase could also be attributed to the growing population and the fact that there are now more cars on the roads.
Drugged Driving Vs. Drunk Driving
However, one statistic that should worry each Tennessean is the report that deaths due to drug-induced driving have overtaken drunken driving. The state’s highway patrol registered an 89% increase between 2010 and 2015 in the total road deaths due to drugged driving.
There were two reasons cited for the increase: one was the higher prevalence of drug use in the state—particularly on prescription opioids—and second was the capacity of the authorities to detect drug-impaired motorists through the use of modern technology. When the data was collated in 2015, there were 174 drug-impaired drivers who died in crashes. Meanwhile, there were 136 drunk drivers who were killed in accidents.
The number of arrests also signifies the growing trend of drug use. From 2014 to 2015, the number of drug users arrested while driving a vehicle rose 26%. In contrast, drunk driving arrests went down for the same period.
One problem is the length of time before the results come in. Accordingly, the crime laboratory of the state is being flooded with cases. This means that it can take as long as six months before drug results are released. For alcohol, the results can be released in two months. That means trials can drag on for so long, which places a burden on the state’s coffers.
Lawmakers are looking at crafting a legislation that hopefully will cut down the number of incidents. But those who are taking narcotic painkillers, whether abusing drugs or following the doctor’s prescription, should be aware enough to never get behind the wheel. Narcotics can make you sleepy and space out.
Cost of DUI in the US
According to the study by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, the US wasted $132 billion each year on DUI. The breakdown is as follows:
- Human lives – There’s no quantifying a personal loss due to DUI. But one death will have a ripple effect not just to the immediate family but to the victims’ families, as well. In the country, one person is killed in drunk crashes every 50 minutes
- Prosecution, lodging in prisons, legal and court fees—all these cost the taxpayers some money. If the suspect can’t afford a lawyer, the state will provide him with one and again, that comes out of the public’s pockets
- Higher insurance costs – A person convicted of DUI will have higher insurance premium, but a chunk of the expenses is shouldered by consumers through incremental increases in the premium
- Medical costs – The responding 911 personnel are funded by the public, and so are the police officers who will cordon off the crash site. If the driver is brought to the public hospital, taxpayers will shoulder the costs, as well.
A research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration highlighted the importance of the ignition interlock devices, especially on cutting down the costs. For instance, the taxpayers save between $3 and $7 for every dollar spent on the device. Repeat offenses are also cut down by 64%.
It also helps the convicted driver to stay productive while his license suspended because he can still go to work with the help of the device.
The IID works much like a breathalyzer. If you surpass the level of alcohol that is programmed to the device, your car’s ignition system won’t work. Like the breathalyzer, the driver blows into the mouthpiece of the device. If your test is good, the car will start as usual. If alcohol is detected in your bloodstream, you can wait a few moments then blow again.
The manufacturer is also required to monitor the results of your monthly IID tests to the proper authorities.
How Much Will a DUI Cost You?
Getting yourself out of a DUI mess is very expensive. Apart from the attorney fees, court and administrative fees, you will also pay the drunk driving program and pay the enrollment fee of $1,500-$2,500.
You will also pay the $250 fee for the transportation agency to reinstate your license. The interlock device, meanwhile, will cost you about $150-200 for the installation and another $80 every month for management and maintenance.
The insurance premium will really cost you because a DUI in your record is a red-flag for the insurance companies because they are taking more risks. Expect the premium to increase between $5,000 and $10,000 per year.
For attorney fees, you may be charged a flat rate or hourly rate. They will also bill you for every court appearance. If you want to negotiate a plea bargain, it will cost you less compared to contesting the DUI results because the case will go to trial.
A plea bargain will cost you between $750 and $2,000 while a full-blown trial will cost between $2,500 and as much as $30,000, depending on the complexity of your case. Again, an attorney is not a guarantee that you can escape your DUI charges, especially if the evidence is overwhelming.
Here are the other related costs of a DUI:
- Impounding fees
- Towing fees
- Community service fees
- Car storage
- Law enforcement assistance fees
- Jail fees
- Chemical testing fees
The costs will multiply if the DUI results in death or major injury. You will shoulder the burial expenses and the much more costly hospitalization costs.
In addition, there’s a huge possibility that you are going to lose your job, especially if the crash resulted in the loss of lives and damage to property.
Take note that a DUI is a criminal offense apart from the civil aspects.
How to Curb DUI Accidents
For local government agencies, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommended some strategies to cut down road crashes due to DUI.
- Imposing zero tolerance on impaired driving. In the country, the BAC limit is 0.08% of alcohol. There’s no measurable quantity for drugs but law enforcers should be trained on how to spot drug-addled motorists.
- Implementing random checkpoints. These are installed on highways and law enforcers may flag down vehicles when they suspect the driver is impaired.
- Massive awareness campaign. Work with schools to warn about the dangers of DUI. What needs to be inculcated in the minds of the youth is that they are responsible for their friends. They should not allow somebody with alcohol and drugs in his system to get behind the wheel.
- Community mobilization. This is a multi-stakeholder effort to come up with comprehensive plans and policies for impaired driving.
The number of law enforcers who took the Drug Recognition Expert Program has doubled since 2012. The training takes three weeks and it helps highway patrolmen to spot signs of impairment like dilation of the pupil, flushed skin, dry mouth, delayed reaction, slurred speech, red eyes, and other physical manifestations.
Those who finished the program are certified by the state and they will become expert witnesses during the trial to pin down the violator.
Boating Under the Influence
There are 18 major lakes in Tennessee with more than 20 square miles in area. The biggest is Kentucky Lake with almost 650 square kilometers. There are also 39 other lakes in the state, which is why boating and water activities are such a huge thing.
However, the state also has laws on driving while boating or boating under the influence (BUI). The BAC is the same at 0.08%. Drug impairment is also covered under this law.
First offense BUI
- Violators will face a fine of up to $2,500
- Maximum jail time of 11 months and 29 days
- Boating license will be suspended for one up to 10 years
- A maximum of $2,500 in fines
- Maximum imprisonment of 11 months and 29 days
- Boating license revocation of up to 10 years
- A maximum fine of up to $5,000
- Maximum jail time of up to 11 months and 29 days
- Suspension of boating license for one to 10 years
The length of suspension will depend upon the discretion of the judge. Aggravating circumstances include property damage or personal loss, if passengers include minors, and resisting arrest. If an accident occurs due to impaired driving, all boating operators in the area will be subjected to a random drug test.
If a person will decline to take the BAC test, while that’s certainly within his rights, an additional suspension will be added to his license.
Types of Substance Abuse Treatment
As already mentioned, individuals react differently even if they use the same substance. It does make sense for governments and the private sector to offer different types of drug and alcohol abuse treatment programs.
Regardless of the recommended program for you, it’s likely that you will start with detoxification, especially if you are already hooked on hard drugs. This is the initial treatment and you will be under close supervision while your body is undergoing withdrawal. In most cases, it’s recommended that the withdrawal process should be done under the watchful eye of a medical expert because it can be dangerous in some respects. The idea is to flush out all the toxins from your body.
Symptoms of Withdrawal:
- Intense cravings
- Nausea and vomiting
- Tremors and seizures
- Cold sweats
- Fatigue and lethargy
- Suicidal thoughts
- Hunger pangs
- Anger and irritability
- Memory lapse
- Difficulty focusing on tasks
It should be noted that you are not going to experience these symptoms all at once. But you will feel some of them during the withdrawal period.
Short-Term Residential Treatment
This is an intense program that adopts typically the 12-step approach. Initially designed for alcoholics, the 12-step approach has been modified to treat other types of substance abuse, as well. This is a combination of inpatient and outpatient therapy. The patient will stay for three to six weeks inside the facility and within the time period, the detoxification process would have been completed. Afterward, the patient is released but has to continue with the recovery process through group meetings, behavioral therapy, and relapse prevention training, etc.
The US National Institute on Drug Abuse said that in order for the drug and alcohol treatment to be effective, the patient should be able to complete at least 90 days of the program components. It’s not a guarantee against relapse but at least it improves the chances of the patient.
Long-Term Residential Treatment
As the name suggests, the patient will stay in the residential facility upwards of six months. He will be monitored 24-hours a day and under the care of proficient medical staff and personnel. The support the patient gets is all-encompassing. Everybody in the facility, including the other residents, is crucial to the recovery process. The adopted model is called the therapeutic community or TC. Treatment doesn’t occur in a vacuum.
Think of the TC as a transition phase to equip the patient with the necessary tools to make the reintegration back into mainstream society as painless as possible. The concept is that addiction is but a symptom of a much deeper problem. Unless this issue is addressed, a relapse is almost guaranteed when the patient leaves the facility. Different facilities have their own guidelines on the kind of treatment for the patients. No single treatment is best. The idea is to get to the bottom of your problem, and that means there would be a lot of trial and error along the way.
Those who may be recommended for long-term residential care are patients who have a dual diagnosis.
What Is Dual Diagnosis?
Dual diagnosis is a term used to describe a patient who suffers from a mental health issue in addition to the substance abuse problem. The recommended treatment is much more complex compared to a simple substance addiction. It’s much more common than you think, however, as almost half of addicts have a mental health disorder, as well.
The mental health problems include:
- Suicidal thoughts
- Attention deficit, hyperactive disorder
- Bulimia and anorexia
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- OCD or obsessive and compulsive disorder
Also, if you have relapsed after completing the short-term residential treatment, you are probably going to be enrolled in a long-term care.
Long-term inpatient treatment will also be recommended for the addict who is more likely going to be exposed to a lot of the same temptations when he is released. Those who have no apparent nuclear support system may benefit from a closely supervised treatment.
Minors tend to be enrolled in a long-term residential treatment because they need to relearn the structures and the discipline necessary to successfully hurdle this setback in their lives.
Between the two options, more people drop out of the long-term residential care. The statistics are more than double, in fact. Whereas 15% drop out of short-term treatment programs, 31% of patients do not finish the long-term care. There’s no reason given, however, for this phenomenon. But it’s easy to deduce that the pressure, structure, and the fact that all their moves are regimented probably contributed to the decision to drop out.
Find more information on Co-Occurring Disorders by Clicking Here.
Inpatient treatment requires that you stay in the facility within the duration of your drug rehab program. Most of the programs will run from 30 days to 90 days.
- You get 24-hour monitoring and supervision
- You are away from temptations and external stimuli that drove you to the drugs in the first place
- You belong to a larger community of individuals who have the same experiences as yours
- You can focus on your treatment because you are not distracted by day-to-day stress outside of the facility
- Your freedom is restricted as you can’t get out of the facility without authorization from the management
- You follow a regimented schedule from the moment you wake up to the time you turn in for bed
- You have to take a leave of absence from your job for a considerable period
- You can’t be with your family all the time
In this type of option, you don’t have to stay at the facility but only follow the schedule set in the program.
- You can come and go anytime
- You have freedom of movement
- You can spend time with your family during the recovery process
- You don’t have to miss time at work
- You can apply what you learn inside the facility immediately in real life
- You save money because this option is much more affordable (insurance typically covers this type of treatment)
- Obviously, you are going to be exposed to the same temptations which can be a challenge to the treatment program
- You may be distracted by the rigors of daily living
- You may find an excuse to drop out of a program such as family trouble, for instance, or deadline at work
- You don’t get to spend more time with your counselor
- You may feel isolated because you feel your friends or family don’t really understand your experiences and emotions
Clearly, there are pros and cons to each type of treatment. Again, there’s no single yardstick of success. Some patients may have success with the short-term inpatient treatment program, and the same strategy may not work for some. Government data actually puts the number of treatment options at more than 14,000. It just goes to show the complexity of the problem. It’s not surprising, however, considering that the mind is a very complicated organ. Even a simple concussion requires different approaches.
The formal treatment program is just the first step in what could be a lifetime of struggle. The odds are going to be stacked against you. For instance, out of 10 of recovering addicts, between four and six people relapse at some point during the post-treatment process. But the fact that you are submitting yourself to rehab is already the right first step. This is crucial considering that only a little over 10% of addicts who badly need help actually avail themselves of the different rehab treatment programs.
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