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West Virginia is a state located on the eastern part of the United States of America. It has an estimated population of 1,831,102 people. The state has a median household income of $42,824 and an unemployment rate of 5.5%. It is quite popular for producing vast coal resources. It has some of the most captivating tourists attractions including museums, parks and forest cover. The economy of the region is quite stable which is why a lot of people find the state quite conducive for business.
With modern railroads, highways and airports it is not difficult to understand why this state has become a fertile ground for those conducting illicit drug businesses. Drug trafficking and sale of substances such as heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine is on the rise. It is also true that both teeneagers and young adults of all genders are getting ensnared by substance abuse and addiction.
In the year 2016 a total of 42,294 residents of this state lost their lives to opioid overdose. It is worth noting that this state was named as the most affected by drug related deaths in the entire nation. While law enforcement officials are doing their best to curb illicit drug businesses there are a lot of people that are already hooked to substance use. These individuals may end up compromising their own health or even dying. It is because of such unfortunate outcomes that individuals should be made aware of the dangers of drug abuse and how to get treatment for those who are already addicted.
Most Commonly Abused Substances in West Virginia
Meth is one of the most powerful central nervous system stimulants. The central nervous system is responsible for both brain and bodily functions. Stimulating this system results in a boost of energy, alertness, activity and emotional intensity. Individuals tend to take this substance a few minutes or hours before going out to a nightclub or party. This is done to ensure that they are able to party and interact with other people without getting tired quickly.
This substance is available as a white crystalline powder. It emits no odor and is bitter when tasted. Another characteristic of this substance is that it dissolves easily in liquid which is why most users mix it with water before injecting into the veins. When mixed with additives such as caffeine or sugar the substance may be available in a variety of other colors including yellow-gray, brown, orange and pink. Color variations are sometimes added to identify the manufacturer of the substance to potential buyers. Meth can be taken through different methods including inhaling as vapor, smoking, injecting into the veins and snorting. Some common street names for meth include chicken feed, brown, chalk, yellow powder, tweak, speed and crypto.
A variation of this substance is crystal meth. It is available as clear chunky crystals that look like small ice particles. In a significant number of cases users have reported taking this type of meth by way of smoking. However, a few individuals crush the crystals before snorting or putting into a vaporizer. Some common street names for crystal meth include batu, crysti, blade, crystal, ice, glass, shabu, stove top and quartz.
Immediately after taking meth individuals are likely to get a sudden rush of euphoria. During this time the blood pressure and pulse of the user increase drastically. This may last for about 30 minutes depending on individual factors, amount and method of taking the substance. Immediately after the rush the individual gets into a high whereby he or she has a false sense of being smarter than everyone else. In a lot of cases users that are high tend to interrupt other people while trying to make a point. This high has the potential of making a user focus on things that are insignificant such as cleaning a window or dusting off a table that is not really dirty.
While users derive a lot of pleasure from taking this substance the truth is that a few hours or days later their very health starts taking a downward turn. Below are some of the negative consequences associated with the use of this substance.
- A serious compromise to the strength of the muscles due to frequent injections
- Deterioration of nose tissues due to snorting
- A weakened immune system making users vulnerable to diseases and infections
- Damage to the kidneys and liver
- Damage to the lungs and brain
- Serious paranoia and anxiety
- Possible dependence and addiction
- Increased financial problems
- Inability to perform well during intimacy
- Increased aggression or violent behavior
- Stealing, lying or having unprotected sex to get money for meth
- Frequent run-ins with law enforcers
- Possible imprisonment when arrested
- Higher likelihood of being involved in can accident
- Death due to drug overdose or poisoning
Marijuana is one of the most popular of substances that are used for recreational purposes. It is often portrayed as a fun substance in movies and music lyrics. Reports indicate that it is the gateway drug to addiction. In other words most of the people that are getting into the habit of drug use opt for marijuana as compared to other types of substances. It is made from the leaves, stems and flowers of the cannabis plant which can be grown in just about any area. Some common street names for this substance include weed, herb, ganja, pot, dope, grass, blunt, ashes, Aunt Mary, blanket, hash, chronic, boom and skunk.
Most users take marijuana by way of smoking. The dried and crushed leaves, stems and flowers of the cannabis plant are rolled up in a paper that resembles a cigarette roll just before one end is lit in much the same way as a cigarette. Some users may take this substance by way of inhaling in the form of vapor. In more recent years individuals have also started using this substance by way of brewing as tea or mixing in foodstuffs such as cookies.
Once users take marijuana they experience a sudden rush characterized by a sense of relaxation and happiness. Of course marijuana produces slight differences in users depending on biological or genetic makeup. However, the bottomline is that a majority of users enjoy the euphoric effects that are derived from this substance. While there is still conflicting information regarding the dangers of using a little amount of marijuana the truth is that its long term use has some of the most devastating effects to both users and their loved ones. Here is a list of possible outcomes for those who take marijuana.
- A gradual decline in intelligence quotient
- Lower chances of getting employed
- Inability to perform well at work or in school
- A higher likelihood of getting into family or domestic fights
- Greater chances of contracting infectious diseases or conditions
- Stealing, lying and robbing just to raise enough money for the substance
- Increased dependence on welfare
- Damage to all organs of the body
- Possibility of becoming dependent or addicted to the substance
- Higher chances of being involved in can accident
- Losing close acquaintances due to unbecoming behavior
- Higher likelihood of losing a job
- Possibility of ending up on the wrong side of the law
Heroin is a drug that is made from the resin of the poppy plant. The drug is illegal in all of the United States of America. It is quite powerful which is why individuals are discouraged from any form of use. Being an opioid this substance is known to have properties that are able to reduce painful sensations. However, a number of people use it purely for recreational purposes. In its purest form this substance is available as a fine white powder. When mixed with other substances it can have a variety of other colors including rose-gray, brown and black. An important point to note is that sometimes the additives used to cut heroin do not completely dissolve, It therefore follows that when users inject this substance through their veins the additives may end up clogging vital blood vessels and that may result in serious health complications or death.
Heroin can be taken by a variety of methods including inhaling in the form of vapor, smoking, injecting into the veins, and snorting. Regardless of the method of intake individuals tend to get a sudden rush of euphoria which is characterized by feelings of happiness and content. Those who were going through a period of stress usually seem to forget about their problems and instead feel like they are in a fantasy world where everything is enjoyable. Users that are high on heroin experience a numbing of pain which is why they may end up engaging in harmful activity without realizing how much damage they are inflicting to their bodies. Another point to keep in mind is that users buying these drugs on the streets do not really know how they have been made or what has been added to the final product. This poses a huge risk to their own health.
This substance may be known by a number of street names including smack, tar, H, dragon, dope, white, snow, scat, snowball, brown sugar, junk, chiva, black pearl, number 4 and black eagle. An estimated 1 in every 10 people within West Virginia is believed to be battling heroin addiction. An even higher number of people have tried using this substance at some point in their lives. As if that is not enough 1 in every 5 high school seniors know exactly how to get heroin. Below are some of the devastating effects of taking this substance.
- Inflammation of the gums
- Bad teeth
- Pment of itches which can lead to damage of the skin
- A severe weakening of the immune system
- Damage to the muscles and veins due to frequent injections
- Falling into a coma
- Breathing complications
- Damage to the tissues of the nose
- Menstrual disturbance
- Severe paranoia and anxiety
- Extreme depression with suicidal thoughts and tendencies
- Severe constipation
- Inability to achieve orgasms for both sexes
- A decline in memory and mental performance
- Possible dependence and addiction
- Death from overdose or addiction
- Damage to various internal body organs
- Financial problems
- Difficulty in sustaining social relationships
This is one of the most popular of recreational drinks throughout the world. Research has shown that taking a little amount of alcohol is not really harmful and may contribute to some aspects of good health. However, only a few people adhere to the recommended limits when it comes to drinking. A large number of West Virginians are falling into the trap of binge drinking where women take more than four drinks within 2 hours while men drink up to 5 drinks within the same period of time. Not only is this harmful to health it also plays a role in the speed with which one becomes dependant on the substance.
Being a legally acceptable substance it is easy to understand why a large percentage of residents are drinking alcohol. It is also quite difficult for authorities to control how people take alcohol. Some common street names for this substance include hooch, sauce, hard stuff, liquid courage, moonshine, suds, vino, draft and juice.
Research has shown that about 18% of high school students have tried taking alcohol before they got to the age of 13. About 40% of high school students that have tried alcohol report that they were offered the drink by someone else. These numbers are mind boggling considering the fact that alcohol is not legally allowed for individuals under 21. Below are some of the negative effects of alcohol abuse.
- Distorted vision
- Stomach upset
- Nausea and vomiting
- Breathing difficulties
- Loss of red blood cells or development of anemia
- Falling into a coma
- Memory lapses meaning the drinker cannot remember all some of the things that happened while under the influence
- A higher likelihood of being involved in accidents or violent incidents
- Straining of family and other social relations
- Lower chances of getting employed
- A likelihood of engaging in risky behavior such as unprotected sex with strangers
- Alcohol poisoning
- Development of liver disease
- High blood pressure, stroke and various heart related diseases
- Sexual problems especially for men
- Damage to the nervous system
- Possible development of cancers
- Development of ulcers
- Permanent brain damage
- Inflammation of the stomach walls
- Financial difficulties
Cocaine is a stimulant that is made from the leaves of the coca plant. On the streets this substance goes by a number of names including coke, big rush, toot, dust, yeyo, stash, snow, cola, candy and rail. It is commonly available as a white powder and an be taken by a number of methods including injecting into the veins, smoking, snorting and inhaling in the form of vapor. Because it is a stimulant users are likely to experience a sudden rush of euphoria immediately after taking it. While high individuals have a false sense of peace or wellbeing. They may also feel like they are capable of doing just about anything which is why a number engage in dangerous activities.
Cocaine is sometimes laced or cut with other substances which may end up making it even more dangerous. Individuals buying this substance on the street are not provided with details of the process involved in making it or the exact ingredients used to manufacture it. As a result people end up taking a substance that may be full of poisonous additives. In 2002 there were more cocaine related offenses than any other substance in West Virginia. There have also been numerous emergency cases related to cocaine intake. Below are some of the negative consequences of taking this substance.
- An increase in heart rate and blood pressure
- Loss of appetite leading to malnutrition and loss of weight
- Contracted blood vessels
- Disturbed sleep patterns
- Extreme tooth decay
- Anxiety or paranoia and restlessness
- Extreme drug cravings
- Damage to various internal body organs
- Severe damage to the tissues of the nose
- A weakening or partial paralysis of the muscles
- Development of psychosis
- Tolerance and addiction
- Financial difficulties
- Breaking up of the family unit
- Death due to overdose or poisoning
Prescription medication is simply medicine that is given by a doctor to relieve patients of pain or some other type of ailment. These drugs may be available to people once they have been tested and proven to be suffering from a medical condition. However, there are instances where these medications may be available over the counter. This means that just about anyone an get access to them without requiring a doctor’s written prescription. When used in a manner that is not recommended these drugs have the potential of becoming addictive which is why people are advised to only use drugs as instructed by a doctor. Opioids and central nervous system depressants such as xanax and valium are among the most commonly abused medicines. Some negative effects of abusing prescription medication are listed below.
- These drugs tend to cloud the user’s mental abilities. They end up being slow in reaction or responding to questions
- Users tend to experience extreme confusion
- Leads to drowsiness and lethargy
- May cause excess sleep or inability to fall asleep
- Can lead to erratic behavior
- Causes extreme anxiety
- May lead to severe depression, suicidal thoughts and tendencies
- Causes dependence and addiction
- May cause death due to overdose
- Damages internal body organs
West Virginia Laws on Substance
Marijuana – the use, possession, cultivation and sale of marijuana is illegal in the state of West Virginia. Anyone found breaking any of these laws is liable to being sentenced to a jail term or paying a fine as determined by a judge in a court of law. Penalties for breaking marijuana laws may vary depending on the actual offense and the amount of substance apprehended.
Cocaine – the sale, use and trafficking of cocaine is illegal in this state. Mere possession of this substance may lead to a jail term of 90 days or six months and a fine of up to $1,000. Selling of cocaine can attract a jail term of between 1 and 15 years.
Heroin – the sale, possession or use of heroin is prohibited within this state. Anyone found in possession may end up serving a jail term of between 90 days to 6 months. Selling this substance may attract a jail term of between 1 to 15 years.
Alcohol – the sale and use of alcohol is legally allowed for individuals that have attained the age of 21. Anyone that is found giving alcohol to people who fall under the age of 18 an be taken to court and charged. There are also certain rules and regulations that govern times and days when the substance can be sold.
Why Residents of West Virginia are Using and Abusing Substance
To solve a problem it is prudent to have a look at some of the things that may be causing it in the first place. Here are some of the most commonly stated reasons for drug use and abuse.
Boredom – there are a lot of people who do not know how to spend their free time. Such people may find themselves feeling bored and this can drive them to unfortunate ends. They may start looking for drugs and alcohol which they then use. The problem with this type of habit is that there is a chance of continuing to use the substance indefinitely. Once you start taking drugs because of boredom you will always do it whenever you find that you do not have anything to do.
Medication – people that are under extreme pain or discomfort due to various health conditions may start taking drugs that are legally available. The problem arises when such individuals start using these drugs in a manner that they were not intended for. Some people may take more while others may end up underdosing. There are also individuals that start taking prescription medication for recreational purposes even though they started out as innocent patients seeking to find remedy for their painful situations.
Peer influence – having friends that are already using drugs can be quite a challenge especially for teenagers. In a lot of cases individuals are put under immense pressure to use substance. Those who refuse to engage in use are made fun of by being branded weaklings or sellouts. This type of scorn may end up overwhelming teenagers who then start using substance. There are also young people that engage in drug abuse simply because their romantic partners are doing it. They start using to prove to their loved one that they can do anything for them.
Experimentation – because of the positive light in which drugs such as marijuana and ecstasy are portrayed in films and music lyrics a lot of young people develop a serious curiosity. This is one of the reasons why they end up experimenting on drugs. The problem is that drugs such as methamphetamine are quite powerful and one time use is all it may take for one to become addicted.
Stress – there is a significant number of drug users who resort to using as a way of dealing with stress. These individuals may be going through heartbreak, financial problems, unemployment and other issues that may cause stress. By taking substance these people get some sort of short term relief from their problems. What such individuals fail to realize is that right after the effects of the drug fades away their problems will come flooding in. As a matter of fact the use of drugs has the potential of worsening an already bad situation. These individuals are advised to avoid using substance and instead consider stress relief techniques such as meditation, praying, talking to a counselor or friend.
Trauma – people who have suffered serious physical or psychological trauma may end up using drugs as a way of dealing with the scars or pain they experience on a daily basis. Getting involved in an accident which leaves one without a limb can be one of the most devastating of occurrences. To deal with the lack of limbs such individuals may start using drugs. They do this to numb the emotional, physical and psychological pain they are experiencing.
To gain confidence – there are certain people who may be dealing with self-esteem issues which inevitably compromises their confidence. Such people have a difficult time giving public speeches or talking to people they have never met before. To remedy the situation these individuals may opt for confidence boosting substances such as heroin and cocaine. While these users gain short term confidence they put their own lives at great risk over the long run.
Recreation – just before going out to a nightclub or house party a number of people take drugs such as cocaine and heroin. This is done to enhance the experience of pleasure while ensuring that the energy levels are boosted for a better partying experience. Indeed there are some people who prefer drinking several bottles of beer as a way of having fun.
Common Signs and Symptoms of Drug Use and Abuse
When people start taking drugs it may not be immediately apparent to their close acquaintances. This may eventually mean the users go from drug use to abuse and addiction. To help a loved one that is already falling into the trap of drug use one must be capable of reading some of the most common signs and symptoms associated with use and abuse. Below are some of the things you should be on the lookout for.
Unusual odors – because drugs that are smoked or inhaled tend to give out certain odors it is easy to understand why this can be an indicator of drug use. Individuals may come back home with unusual smells on their clothes, body or breath. A large number of these individuals are aware of this sign which is why they may come back home and immediately take a shower, brush their teeth and change clothes. This is done to conceal the fact that they are using substance.
Isolation – for a number of teenagers isolation always seems like a good way to conceal their drug use. They are likely to avoid being in the company of other family members. This is true for those individuals that were previously known to love the company of other family members. Instead they may start staying for longer hours in their rooms or outside the house. This type of isolation allows them to engage in drug use without raising any suspicion.
A sudden change of friends – it is difficult for a new drug user to maintain old friendships because of the change in interests. In a lot of cases new drug users tend to have a sudden change of friends. This allows them to continue taking drugs without having to deal with criticism. The change of friends also makes it possible for users to hang out with people who have similar interests and can acquire drugs within a moment’s notice. It is also important to note that new drug users tend to change their hangout places.
Secretive activity – new drug users start doing things in private.They may spend more time locked up in their room or basement. When asked about their whereabouts they are often unwilling to disclose their location or who they are hanging out with. A lot of new drug users change their hobbies from public activities to things that can be done indoors. In certain instances users lose interest in their former hobbies.
Intoxication – because of substance use most users inevitably become intoxicated. It is quite difficult to conceal this fact which is why loved ones may be able to detect obvious signs. Some of the things that are likely to give away the user include dilated pupils, slurred speech, impaired walking, spacing out, hyperactivity, lethargy, confusion and erratic behavior.
Grooming and hygiene – the more an individual gets involved in drug use the higher the chances of developing poor grooming habits. Such individuals will start losing interest in what they wear which is quite unlike their former character. It is also true that such people will end up caring less about the hygiene of their surroundings.
Marks on skin – for individuals that are far gone with regards to drug use and abuse it is possible to notice unusual marks on the skin. These may be a result of frequent scratching of the skin or injections. These marks may sometimes develop into inflammation and lead to allergic reactions or infections.
Change in behavior – it is difficult for an individual to use substance without going through a significant change in behavior. Drugs not only affect the body but they also have an impact on emotions, psychological processes and spiritual beliefs. The alterations that take place while an individual is using drugs ultimately mean that their behavior or character changes. Some people may become introverted while others may grow bolder and talkative. Certain people end up being timid while others become extremely aggressive and may engage in violent activities.
Increased need for money – to acquire the types of substances they need individuals must be able to raise enough funds. The problem is that a significant number of these people are not yet employed or do not have any source of income. As a result these individuals may start lying or stealing to get money for their drug needs. These people may also start engaging in dangerous sexual activities to solicit for money or drugs. When asked about their sudden increase in need of money users hardly ever have a coherent explanation. Instead they start giving explanations that do not really add up.
More accidents and incidents – individuals may start getting involved in frequent accidents involving cars or other types of machinery. This is because they tend to have slowed reaction time. It is also true that drug users are likely to be involved in domestic violence and street altercations. They may equally find themselves getting arrested because of breaking certain laws of the land.
Anxiety – a lot of individuals that are abusing drugs tend to go through episodes of anxiety. This may sometimes be due to fear of the future or inability to get the substance they want. Individuals may also become restless.
Missing appointments – individuals that use substance end up spending a lot of their time seeking and using drugs. They are also likely to spend a significant amount of time nursing hangovers or the after effects of drug use. It is because of such occurrences that they may end up missing important appointments or classes.
Change in daily routines – individuals tend to change their daily routines and instead opt for something that is more accommodative to their newly found habits. They may start coming back home earlier or later than usual. In certain instances they may come back home at odd hours and leave shortly after.
Risk Factors Associated with Drug Use and Abuse
Risk factors are conditions or things that make it more likely for an individual to start using substance and even abuse it. Some people are only exposed to one risk factor while others may be exposed to several risk factors which further increases their chances of getting hooked on substance. Understanding these factors can be key to creating an environment that is less likely to trigger drug use and abuse.
Poverty – a lot of researchers have found that people who are living below the poverty line are at a greater risk of using and abusing substance. Keep in mind that an estimated 319,063 people living in West Virginia are considered to be poor. This is a staggering number that should send everyone concerned into panic mode. These poor people end up using substance as a way of surviving the harsh elements they have to deal with when it comes to living on the streets or within houses that are not in ideal conditions. A significant number of such individuals take to drugs to calm down their nerves due to the soaring levels of stress they have to cope with. It is also true that an even larger number of people use substance because they have nothing else to do with their time.
Peer users – young people who hang out with friends that are already using substance are regarded to be at a greater risk of catching onto the habit themselves. This is because their friends constantly bombard them with the positive effects of substance., Non-users are also subject to frequent ridicule which further worsens their situation when it comes to hanging out with friends. Another aspect regarding peer influence is that non-users are able to get their hands on substance without a lot of complications. It is worth pointing out that statistics show that 1 in every 5 high school students knows exactly how to get substances such as heroin, marijuana, meth and alcohol without a lot of complications. Indeed there are a few students that are even dealing in the sale of illicit substances.
Sex – men are at a greater risk of using substance when compared to women. Some studies claim that men are twice as likely to use drugs as compared to their female counterparts. This is partly attributed to the fact that the society is more lenient on men using substance than on women who engage in the same habit. Women are generally regarded as homemakers which is why any substance use is likely to attract a myriad of criticisms and scorn. Men on the other hand are more aggressive and outgoing which is why their use of substance is not always criticized with the intensity it deserves. Another important point to note is that women who use drugs may pass drug related complications onto their unborn babies. A lot of women are quite sensitive when it comes to their young ones which is why they stay away from anything that poses a threat to their families.
Age – individuals that are between the age of 13 to 24 are at a greater risk of taking illicit substances such as cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine. These people are extremely curious which is why they may find it easy to experiment on substances. It is at this point that such individuals are probably making new friends who are already using substances. The chances of being influenced by their new acquaintances is extremely high. It is also during this stage that individuals try to find out who they really are. They try to find their own identity away from everyone else. All these issues make the age group vulnerable to substance abuse. However, people that are above the age of 24 may also use substance albeit in a smaller percentage.
Availability – individuals who live within neighborhoods that have a certain substance are likely to start using it. If Marijuana is available in higher amounts within Charleston as compared to Beckley chances are that more residents of Charleston will use marijuana than those in Beckley. Young people that live with adults who are fond of using alcohol or other drugs are at a greater risk of using substances when compared to those who live in houses that have no substance users. This is why it is highly advisable that parents and older siblings avoid taking alcohol and other drugs at home. Keeping the house free of any illicit substances can go a long way in preventive substance abuse within the family.
Lax laws – when there are no elaborate laws regarding the use, cultivation, transportation or sale of substances a lot of people end up misusing the same substances. This is why it is encouraged that all institutions formulate stringent laws when it comes to issues related to substance. Of course there are various laws pertaining to substance use and possession within West Virginia but these statutes are only as effective as the law enforcers that are charged with the responsibility of overseeing their implementation. When anyone is found to break any of the rules and regulations that govern substance they must be made to pay the price just so other people are discouraged from attempting to engage in the same activity.
Lack of supervision – young people are generally curious by nature. They tend to try out just about everything they can get their hands on. This is why it is encouraged that parents or guardians should always keep a close eye on their young ones. When going off to a vacation or a business trip make sure to leave teenagers under the care of a responsible adult. Teenagers that are left alone for a long period of time are at a greater risk of starting to use drugs.
Personal traits – some individuals are generally aggressive at an early age. These exhibit signs of boldness when it comes to interacting with new people or situations. It is such types of people that are likely to start using substance. Those who are laid back or timid in nature may not be quick to get into new habits that are often frowned upon by a majority of people.
Addiction to other things – people who are addicted to issues such as gambling or shopping are at a greater risk of catching new addictions. When gambling an individual is often tempted to take alcohol or use other substances to stay alert or keep up with the happenings when it comes to the bets they placed. Scientists are also researching the psychological relations between various types of addictions.
Traumatic experiences – individuals that have gone through traumatic experiences are often involved in drug abuse especially if they do not receive professional counseling and family support throughout the years. Some of these events may include serious accidents that cause loss of limbs, divorce, bad breakups, sexual abuse and domestic violence. Such people may develop a low self-esteem or find themselves reliving the moments that lead up to and after the traumatic event. This has the potential of causing an explosive psychological and emotional reaction. It is because of this pain that individuals may start taking substances.
How Residents of West Virginia get Hooked on Substances
The process of getting addicted to alcohol or other types of drugs is not always the same for everyone. Some people take methamphetamine for the first time and end up hooked while others continue using drugs for a prolonged period before they are finally addicted. Here is a closer look at some of the most common stages of getting addicted to substance.
Stage 1: Introduction to substance
The first step toward addiction is referred to as introduction. It is the stage in which people get to learn about the various substances that are available throughout their neighborhood or state. Introduction is quite an innocent stage because most people do not get to test the drug. Some people are introduced to substance by their friends or relatives while others get to learn about substance through movies, social media and music lyrics. Those who learn about a substance and its negative effects tend to stay away from it. However, those who get to learn about the same substance and the possible euphoric effects it provides are likely to grow more curious.
Stage 2: Experimentation with the substance
Individuals that hold substance in positive light become curious enough to want to try it out. They are no longer content with the knowledge of the effects that are derived. As a matter of fact they are actually fascinated by how other people react when they use substance. It is this curiosity that creates room for the individual to accept calls by peers to try out the substance. Some people go out of their way to seek substances such as alcohol and marijuana because they believe their effects are mild and will not have a negative impact on their lives. Immediately after taking substance individual experience the sudden rush and subsequent high that characterizes the use of substance. For a majority of people this experience is quite pleasurable and makes their problems seem minute. A small percentage quit using substances after this stage of experimentation. It is the ones that enjoy the experience who are likely to progress to the next stage.
Stage 3: Regular use of the substance
Soon after experimentation individuals slip into a habit of taking substance. This they do whenever they want to pass time, socialize with friends or when going out to a nightclub. Regular use of alcohol is not necessarily dangerous when done responsibly. However, the use of illicit substances such as heroin, and cocaine is quite dangerous when it gets to this stage. It is because of regular use of substance that individuals may overdose or experiencing drug poisoning. It is during this stage that teachers, parents and friends of a user are likely to know about the newly found habit. However, users at this stage are quite difficult to convince that drug use is something that will only end in tragedy. A lot of users tend to change their group of friends, hobbies and avoid family members as much as possible. Instead they seek out new friends who use substance and engage in hobbies that complement their habits.
Stage 4: Risky use of substance
Sometimes referred to as problem use this is the fourth stage of substance addiction. It is at this point that a lot of things start going out of hand. The user is no longer able to tell if they are using the right amount of substance or not. They start using substance at work or in school which makes it difficult for them to perform well. They also start losing sight of their personal goals which may include having strong relationships, being financially stable and taking care of loved ones. A lot of problem users become extremely irritable or aggressive when confronted about their substance use. They may even become violent and proclaim that they can stop the habit at any point they want. Risky use often results in problems such as loss of job, poor grades at school, breaking off of social relationships, health complications, a weakening of the immune system and tolerance to substance.
Stage 5: Dependence on substance
As mentioned earlier regular use eventually leads to substance tolerance. This means that the body has become so used to the effects of the substance that a little amount no longer makes any difference. Tolerance is a state in which a user who used to get high on two bottles of alcohol no longer gets high when they take the same amount. Instead they have to take more than 5 or 6 bottles to get high. Users at this stage are forced to increase the amount of substance they take which further complicates matters. Not only are their physical organs getting affected they are also forced to dig deeper into their pockets to get high. Some drug users start mixing different substances to make them even more potent. Because of regular use and increased intake of substance the body develops a dependence on the substance. In other words the body becomes so used to the substance that a lack of it in the system leads to the negative withdrawal effects noted below.
- Cold chills that may alternate with profuse sweating
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal pain
- Muscle cramping
- Extreme depression
- Fear of the future or severe anxiety
- Depression that may lead to suicidal tendencies
- Extreme drug or alcohol cravings
- Hallucinations that may be characterized by seeing or smelling things that do not exist
- Extreme paranoia or a strong feeling that someone is watching or stalking the user
- Inability to focus on important matters
Stage 6: Full blown addiction to substance
A lot of times individuals are unable to quit using drugs once they slip into the dependence stage. This is because a majority of users are afraid of having to go through the withdrawal effects. A significant number of users also enjoy the effects they derive from use while another percentage of users still believe they are able to quit whenever they want. It is individuals that are relatively stable when it comes to finances that fall into the category of people that believe they can quit whenever they want. Another problem is that people who are financially stable are able to receive immediate care when they are affected by any medical emergencies. When arrested such individuals have enough money to pay bail which means they are able to get back to their habit of using drugs.
Individuals that progress to full blown drug addiction are physically dependant on drugs and psychological compelled to use despite the glaring pitfalls that drug use has. These individuals continue taking substance even when ailing from severe health complications. They are also aware of the fact that they cause extreme suffering to their family and friends. Despite all of these negatives individuals continue taking substance even when it goes against their will. Substance addiction is a condition that strips users of their free will. In certain instances addiction has been described as a prison that one is unable to break free from unless given professional assistance. Below are some of the signs and symptoms of drug addiction.
- Substance addicts usually have an insatiable craving for drugs
- Feelings of guilt after using substance
- A genuine desire to stop drug use
- Trying several times to quit but with no success
- Spending a lot of time and money on drugs
- Thinking about substance use a lot of the times
- Hanging out with people who use substance
- Continued use of drugs despite negative consequences to relationships
- Loss of job due to substance use
- A change in behavior in such a way that can individual may start lying and stealing
- Violent activity as a means of getting money for substance
- Engaging in unsafe sexual activity for money or drugs
- Talking about substance use all the time
- Involuntary shaking or tremors
- Repetitive speech
- Extreme anxiety and depression
- Suffering from withdrawal effects when unable to get drugs
Why Residents of West Virginia are not getting Help for their Substance Addiction
Individuals that are addicted to substance may seem hopeless because they do not know that treatment is available. A particular issue that should send chills down the spine of just about any West Virginia resident is the fact that this state has the highest capita drug related death rate in the United States. An estimated 41.5 deaths per 100,000 people was attributed to the use of drugs in the year 2015.
In another unfortunate incident that occurred in August of 2017, 27 heroin related overdoses took place in a span of less than 4 hours. This incident happened because these 27 individuals took heroin from the same corrupt batch. A staggering number of people are thrown in jail because of drug related offenses within this state. It is also important to note that only 6,070 people received professional addiction help in the year 2009. This is against statistics that show that 1 out of 10 people in West Virginia is battling drug addiction. Below is a look at some of the reasons why individuals in this state are not getting proper treatment for drug abuse and addiction.
Lack of knowledge – there are quite a number of people who do not really know that drug addiction is a psychological condition that requires professional help. These people overlook the fact that their loved ones are suffering from a serious condition. Most of them even go ahead to confront users thinking that it is habit that gives pleasure to the drug addict. It is because of this lack of knowledge that a number of learning institutions and community based organizations have initiated awareness creation programs. These are aimed at educating the public on addiction treatment.
Fear of the law – because a lot of addicts are hooked on illegal substances the last thing they want is for law enforcers to get wind of their habits. This forces them to conceal their condition and suffer in silence. The truth is that most courts would rather send can addict to a rehabilitation center than a prison. Coming forward with the problem is the best way to escape from a jail sentence and instead receive timely treatment.
Shame – people who have family members that are battling drug addiction may sometimes be ashamed of the drug user. Such individuals do not seek help on behalf of their loved once because they do not want friends or neighbors to realize that they are living with an addict. Keep in mind tha drug addiction is something that is looked down upon by a majority of people in the society.
Denial – before a drug addict can be subjected to a process of treatment he or she must first accept that they have a problem. Addiction affects the body and mind which is why anyone that is still in denial cannot be helped. Professional caregivers have the knowledge and experience that is necessary to help any addict realize their condition and accept help.
Complicated relations – there are situations where people do not get help because of their relationships. Since one partner is passionate about drug use the other one continues using drugs too. Individuals fail to get help because they believe they will lose the love of their life who will move on to someone with similar interests.
Lack of money – because a lot of professional treatment centers charge a fee for the services they provide a lot of people may be discouraged from seeking help. This is especially applicable to residents that are dealing with poverty. Such individuals can barely raise enough funds to feed their family which is why the thought of spending more cash for treatment seems foreign to them.
Lack of information – living in a neighborhood that does not have any sign or information about a rehabilitation center an be another reason why people do not get help. Such individuals do not know how to look for a suitable rehabilitation center which is why they end up having to battle with their condition for a prolonged period of time.
Fear of job loss – individuals may sometimes remain addicted to substance because of the repercussions that are likely to arise once they make public their problem. A lot of employers have a zero tolerance policy on drug use which is why employees may conceal their addiction problem. The same is applicable to students who are likely to face suspension or expulsion from school.
How to get Treatment for Drug or Alcohol Addiction
When you realize that you need addiction treatment or know of a loved one that is suffering from a addiction one of the most important things to do is reach out for help. Some of the places you can get assistance from include churches, mosques, local community organizations and health facilities. You an also use drug addiction hotlines to get instructions on how to go about the whole issue. Below are some of the things that are likely to take place once you contact a rehabilitation facility.
When a rehabilitation official has been contacted can intervention is likely to be organized. This basically means that all family members and close friends are given guidance on how to approach the addict in a such a way that they will not provoke the individual but instead help them realize their mistakes. In most cases rehab officials discourage people who are bitter or those who hold grudges against the user from any confrontation or involvement during intervention. Only individuals that genuinely want to help their loved one are supposed to participate in this process.
After successful intervention drug addicts usually agree to get treatment. This makes it necessary for rehab officials to carry out initial assessment. During this period the drug user is asked a number of questions to ascertain their psychological and emotional state. Officials may also run a few physical exams and lab tests to determine if there are any other co-occurring conditions affecting the individual. This stage makes it possible for professionals to determine the most appropriate treatment program to subject the patient to.
It is during this stage that professionals try to find out the resolve of the drug user. This stage is meant to discourage anyone that is not in the right mindset from enrolling to a treatment program. This is because it is futile to try and treat someone that does not really understand the need. It is also during this stage that a lot of drug users are encouraged to join a treatment program as the best way of beating their addiction.
- Actual intake
At this point rehabilitation officials have ascertained that the individual is committed to getting treatment. Family members are informed about their obligations or what is expected from them during the whole process of treatment. The drug user is also given information about the ideal rehabilitation program. This is done after doctors have come up with a customized treatment program for the individual that is affected by addiction. It is also at this stage that individuals are provided with information on the payment options available to them and any other charges that may be applicable. People that meet all the requirements as stipulated are then enrolled into an inpatient or outpatient treatment program.
Understanding the various types of care provided by rehabs
When a patient is enrolled into a treatment program they are often placed under inpatient, outpatient or partial hospitalization care. Below are a few details regarding each type of care program.
Under inpatient care individuals are required to stay at the rehab facility for as long as treatment takes. In a majority of cases this type of treatment may take anywhere between 30 to 90 days depending on the type of drug the patient is addicted to and the severity of the addiction, Inpatient care is ideal for people that are extremely affected by addiction and are at a higher risk of suffering from painful withdrawal effects. Individuals under this type of care are also those were assessed and listed as being quite likely to slip back into drug use.
A particular advantage of this type of care is that it allows professionals to keep a close watch on the patient. This means that in case the patient suffers from extreme reactions during withdrawal appropriate measures can be taken to stabilize the situation. Another advantage is that the patient is taken away from the environment that may be triggering drug use and abuse. Keep in mind that some people take drugs because they live with abusive partners or have a group of friends that are extremely fond of drug use. Other advantages include the fact that the patient gets to interact with people with similar issues.
A common disadvantage with this type of care is that the patient is no longer capable of taking care of daily obligations. They have to give up work or school for the duration of time through which treatment lasts. It is also true that patients under this program do not get to interact with family members as often as they would want. Furthermore inpatient care is considered the most expensive when compared to the other types of care.
This refers to a type of treatment where the patient is allowed to leave the rehabilitation facility after sessions of treatment. It is suitable for individuals that are not extremely affected by the use of drugs. In a number of cases initial assessments show that people suitable for this type of care have not completely lost control over their own actions. A majority of patients under this care program are able to continue executing their daily obligations and are less likely to suffer from severe withdrawal effects.
One advantage of this type of care is that it allows patients to continue with their normal routines. Those who are attending classes an do so while those who are employed or operating a business an continue with their tasks. Another advantage of this type of treatment is that individuals are able to interact with their family members on a regular basis. They are not deprived of the love and care that characterizes the family setting. Because the rehabilitation facility does not dedicate a lot of its resources on patients under this type of care the costs are relatively lower when compared to those charged for inpatient care.
One of the top disadvantages of this program is that it leaves the patient unsupervised for a relatively long period of time. Keep in mind that lack of supervision is one of the risk factors associated with drug abuse. Another shortcoming associated with this type of care is that the patient is still exposed to the same environment as before. This means that the individual is still going to interact with the things that trigger drug use. It is also true that this type of care does not give doctors the opportunity to keep a close eye on the patient. Any emergency that occurs during treatment may become fatal because the patient is not able to receive immediate attention.
Partial Hospitalization Program
This is a treatment program under which a patient is required to stay at the rehabilitation center in a similar manner as inpatient arrangement. The exception here is that patients are allowed to leave the facility at a given time everyday. Some facilities allow their patients to visit families in the evening while others may allocate some time in the afternoon. This type of program is recommended for people that require family support while also undergoing serious medical treatment.
One advantage of this type of care is that it allows patients to interact with their children, siblings or spouses on a daily basis. It also gives patients the chance to supervise professional operations. Another advantage is that this type of treatment is not as expensive as inpatient care but an be just as effective. It strikes a balance between the advantages and disadvantages involved in both inpatient and outpatient care.
One disadvantages about this type of care is that it gives patients some leeway to engage in drug use. This an take place during the free time they are allowed to visit home. Another disadvantage is that doctors may not be able to respond to any emergency that develops while the patient is away from the rehabilitation facility.
What Happens During Addiction Treatment?
There are a number of things that take place during treatment. Some details are specific to certain types of addiction and related health issues. However, a majority of people are likely to be involved in the following processes.
Detoxification – this refers to a process through which the body is allowed to get rid of all the toxic substances within the system. In this case detoxification refers to getting rid of the remnants of alcohol or illicit drugs. During this process doctors ensure that patients are as comfortable as possible and that withdrawal effects are managed by the use of alternative medicines. A special set of exercises and diet is also recommended for individuals that are undergoing this phase of treatment.
Counseling – because most patients are psychologically affected by the use of substance it is paramount of therapists to arrange for special counseling sessions. This gives the therapist can opportunity to understand the patient’s mindset and behavioral patterns. It is out of the information obtained from various counseling sessions that therapists come up with solutions to help resolve the psychological issues that may be triggering substance abuse.
Group therapy – a large number of rehabilitation facilities encourage their patients to form or join support groups. These groups are made up of people who are also dealing with or have overcome addiction. By sharing their experiences and moments of triumph individuals get to learn from each other while also providing encouragement to those who may still be feeling hopeless about their condition.
Special dieting – patients that used to take drugs such as heroin and cocaine end up losing their appetite and becoming malnourished. Their condition makes it easy for opportunistic diseases and infections to take advantage and cause a lot of problems. Nutritionists at the rehabilitation facility run several tests to ascertain each patient’s nutritional needs before coming up with can ideal diet to promote better health.
Exercise and physical therapy – proper physical fitness is key to regaining better health. That is why a lot of patients are required to engage in various exercises. Patients may also be provided with medicinal massage sessions to help them calm down and deal with stressful situations. Those patients that may have been involved in serious accidents are also provided with devices that an aid in motor movements.
Choosing the best rehabilitation facility
When it comes to picking the right rehabilitation facility for your loved one you must not be in a rush. Take the time to compare various centers before settling on the most suitable. Use the following details to identify a facility that is likely to offer the kind of treatment you or a loved one really needs.
Reputation – take the time to learn about what people have to say regarding the various facilities offering rehabilitation services. You can talk to individuals that have been admitted or those who have had loved ones admitted to various centers. You an also obtain a lot of helpful information through online sites that give reviews regarding the different rehabs that are available in West Virginia.
Specialization – some rehabilitation centers deal with the treatment of alcohol addiction while others may deal with opiate related issues. It is prudent for you to pick a center that offers the kind of addiction treatment you or a loved one needs.
Staff qualifications – it is important for you to carry out some research just so you can find out about the people that work at the rehabilitation facility. Pick a facility that has highly qualified personnel in various departments. This is the best way to guarantee that you or a loved one receives top quality services.
Facilities – for a drug addict to fully recover from their condition it is important for them to receive treatment under comfortable conditions or conducive environment. This is why it may be wise to have a tour of the rehab just to assess the kind of facilities that are available. Pick a center that has invested in state of the art amenities and equipment to ensure that all patients are provided with quality living standards.
Personal factors – can individual that falls under the category of being a teenager should be taken to a teen oriented rehab while adults should also be taken to adult centers. Gender and spiritual beliefs are other personal factors to consider when choosing the most appropriate rehab to enroll into.
Aftercare – once a patient has completed treatment there is still the possibility of slipping back to the old habits. This is why you should pick a rehabilitation center that offers follow up care. This is key to keeping the recovered patient from losing all the gains they have made. Some rehabilitation centers offer this type of care within sober living homes. These are basically homes that are designed to discourage any form of substance use. Such homes ensure that patients are not overwhelmed when they reintegrate into the society.