Brownsville, Texas Drug Culture and Treatment
Next to the US-Mexican Borders, adjacent to Matamoros, Tamaulipas, lies Brownsville—a city in Cameron County, Texas with a population of 183,046. Spread wide with a total area of 146.3 square miles (378.9 km2), the US Census Bureau reports that Brownsville makes up the largest city by land area in the lower Rio Grande Valley. As the sixteenth-most populous city in the state, Brownsville represents the county seat of Cameron County. Unfortunately, this city also has one of the highest poverty rates in America, with many residents living below the federal poverty level. However, the town’s economy has experienced a recent upswing—it has one the fasted growing manufacturing sectors in the US, with one of the best pro-business climates, and affordable living and selling. Yet, the possession and distribution of illegal drugs continues to cast a dark shadow over Texas as it’s of the leading states with the most common criminal drug offenses.
Drugs and Alcohol Statistics in Cameron County
According to Rosenthal and Wadas, (PLLC) Criminal Defense Law Firm, as of 2015, the most frequent drug offenses in Texas involves possession or association with: marijuana, cocaine, heroine, other opioids and crystal methamphetamine. Along the South Texas region, the Office of National Drug Control Policy reports that the principle threats as of late, “Are marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin” (however, meth more in the South Region and heroin in the West Region). Connected to the Texas-Mexico border, Cameron County has served as a passage for drug trafficking and weapon distribution. However, the ONDCP insists that this region has 18 enforcement initiatives and 5 intelligence nodes put into place, which has prevented 360,783 kg of marijuana, 3,581 kgs of cocaine, 224 kg of methamphetamine, and 50 kg of heroin (and $40,825,608 in cash and assets) from entering the US in 2009. Still as a whole, from 2009 to 2010, Texas placed on the top ten states for cocaine use among adolescents ages 12 to 17 (National Survey on Drug Use and Health 2009-2010). Furthermore, the number of meth lab seizure incidents in the state rose by 22 percent, from 2007, with 93 cases, to 113 in 2010 (El Paso Intelligence Center’s National Seizure System) (EPIC-NSS).
Compared to the national average, however, the rate of drug-induced deaths and illicit drug use is lower than the national average, especially among adolescents: the US has a high rate of alcohol and drug abuse among teenagers and young adults. As the American Addiction Centers, reports, 72 percent of teenagers in the US have consumed alcohol prior to graduating from high school. Among 18 to 21 year olds, 73 percent drink every so often; and in 2010, 1 out of 4 residents, ages 18 to 34 consumed four or more drinks within a short timespan (a couple of hours). Yet in terms of alcohol consumption, in 2013, Texas had the highest rate of drunk driving fatalities, with 1,337 drunk driving deaths that year alone (MADD). Furthermore, cars accidents involving alcohol lead to “99,195 arrests and 71,030 DUI convictions,” and “taxpayers subsidized fatal car accidents to the tune of $6.2 billion” (American Addiction Centers).
Drug and Alcohol Recovery for Texans
Fortunately, there’s now more rehab medical centers and scientific approaches to assist in drug and alcohol recovery. First though, it’s important to understand the causes and signs of alcohol and/or opioid abuse.
Leading Causes for Alcoholism (Mayo Clinic):
- Stressful Environments—for example, certain occupations lead to excessive drinking due to high stress, such as doctors and nurses.
- Drinking At a Young Age—habit forms and tolerance goes up.
- Mental Health Problems—An anxious or depressed individual may turn to alcohol to relieve painful feelings.
- Family History—Genetics and environment may greatly influence certain individuals.
- Taking Alcohol with Medicine—Various prescriptions can increase the toxic effect of alcohol, thus leading the person to rely on that combination.
Leading Causes for Drug Addiction:
Currently, researchers still do not know the exact reason why one person develops a drug addiction while another does not. However, the main belief is that many factors play a role in forming substance addiction, such as:
- Genetics—There’s a stronger possibility of behaving in destructive ways, if a parent or even a close relative does so.
- Biological—For example, some individuals lack serotonin, and may self-medicate to feel pleasure.
- Environmental—Chaos and stress may lead to opioid and drug abuse to reduce anxiety. Also, if the individual surrounds themselves with addicts, they’ll likely develop a habit.
- Psychological—Mental illness greatly increases the chances of developing drug addiction, particularly for those with undiagnosed disorders; its used again to self-medicate.
Understanding Process Addiction Vs. Substance Addiction
Process Addiction differs from pure substance addiction in that it refers to any repetitive, frequent and destructive behavior (the disordered “process”). However, its common to have both of these addictions happening simultaneously. American Addiction Centers maintains that, “When substance abuse and process addictions occur together in the same person, comprehensive treatment that addresses both conditions is necessary”. Fortunately, those working in recovery rehab centers will provide a clear and thorough diagnosis, and create a personalized plan to address both of these issues (discussed in depth below).
Symptoms May Overlap:
Tolerance—feeling the need to increase the frequency or severity of destructive behavior.
Withdrawal Symptoms—Beyond physical symptoms, the individual may experience severe anxiety if they cannot fulfill their compulsion.
Cannot Stop Behavior—Even if they sincerely want to stop their addiction, they aren’t able to.
Primary Focus—Most of their time is centered-around the addiction (planning, perceiving, attending certain events, etc)
How Do I Recover from Alcohol and Drug Addiction?
In order to begin a recovery program, the patient must detox— this means, ridding of all toxins in the body’s system by staying clean for at least five to ten days. Usually, rehab programs reject those who aren’t fully detoxed. However, many centers have medically supervised detox programs for those whom struggle to abstain from substance and alcohol-consumption. Detoxing without further therapy, though, will inevitably lead to relapse. Therefore, detoxing is just the first initial step in a series of phases for full recovery.
For rehabs dealing with any major addiction—heroin, cocaine, alcohol, other opiates, etc—assessments must take place before letting in a patient. Assessments typically come in the form of questionaries, self-evaluations, and/or a physical exam. By answering questions and recording health-data, the assessor can more adequately determine whether an addiction is fully present, to what extent, whether or not it pairs with co-occurring condition(s), and how to treat the specific, individual. Usually doctors, nurses, social workers, and therapists carry out these assessments. Although assessment strategies sometimes differ from rehab to rehab, all locations carry out similar investigations.
During the intake process, the patient will usually meet individually, with a counselor or therapist, a doctor, and/or a psychologist. Establishing these relationships with the staff helps them communicate with each other to collaboratively develop a methodical treatment plan. Typically, documented notes describing medical and mental health history, will be reviewed from the session(s), and specialized screenings and physical exams might also take place. Additionally, the patient will be asked about major events or certain instances that might have led to the eventual addiction. Important to note—the intake process usually involves some form of payment and/or a financial plan, and fortunately, many facilities offer a number of payment and insurance options.
- Inpatient Treatment
Residential treatment centers (RTC), are highly structured, and evidence-based programs that typically follow the 12-step model of recovery (Alcoholics Anonymous). Additionally, inpatient rehabs offer emotional process groups—e.g. CBT (for obsessive thoughts and compulsions), DBT (for stabilizing moods), and work-return planning, etc. RTC works especially well for individuals who have recently received hospital-care, or who need more structure, and stability than outpatient care. Average length of stay is typically three to six months, and is usually all residential-based (no returning home each night).
- Outpatient Treatment
Partial hospitalization drug rehab programs (PHP), and intensive outpatient programs for substance abuse (IOP), differ from RTC in that patients go home in the evenings. PHP, also referred to as “day rehab,” provides the patient with the intensity of RTC, but for six hours a day, five days a week. Using many of the same tools and resources, PHP can be just as effective; individuals receive group-therapy, counseling, medical assessment, etc. Due to cost-reduction and flexibility, many drug and alcohol rehab centers now offer this style of treatment.
Then, intensive outpatient programs for substance abuse (IOP), offers the same services, but goes for three hours a day, three days a week. Typically, this option suits those who’ve completed an inpatient program, like RTC, or for individuals that require an outpatient setting (due to professional or personal reasons). Additionally, IOP focuses on group therapy, while using one-on-one counseling less often. Length of attendance differs from person to person, depending on their emotional and psychological progress, and well-being.
Immediate, and continuous follow-up treatment for substance abuse, should occur after the completion of an initial rehab program. Addiction aftercare programs aim to encourage recovery maintenance, and helps develop ways to prevent relapse, to achieve a fulfilled life with healthy relationships and a sense of purpose. Longstanding substance abuse can de-normalize cognitive-function and altar parts of the brain long after rehab, therefore continuing treatment is extremely important. Beyond physical impact, several long-term psychological changes may affect thoughts, feelings, and behaviors (as another consequence to prior intoxication). Therefore, its essential that aftercare proceeds.
Consider a Sober Living Home
Another idea to consider is living in a sober living home— a group home for addicts, that allows one to come and go as they please, as long as they follow curfew-rules and complete standard chores. Before moving in, the recovering-addict should find a 12-step sponsor (a family member, a friend, or an acquaintance, that will support, listen, and hold you accountable). Once, enlisted, residents in these homes must remain sober, and be willing to support others. Thus, this environment encourages sobriety and helps addicts adjust to a non-substance/non-alcoholic life. Many sober living homes include volunteer opportunities and therapeutic meetings, such as feeding the homeless at soup-kitchens, as well as, Alcoholic-Anonymous (12-Step) gatherings, and job-search planning. Before moving in, each individual must complete the detox process (refer back to step 1 on how to do this).