Saturday, February 16, 2019

Gilbert

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Treatment in Gilbert, Arizona

The city of Gilbert is located in Maricopa County, within the Phoenix Metropolitan Area and southeast of Phoenix proper. It is the most populous incorporated town in America, and the sixth-largest municipality in the state.

Gilbert’s total area is 76 square miles, of which .24 square miles is water. The city’s current population is estimated as just under 220,000. Once considered the “hay shipping capital of the world,” Gilbert has evolved over the decades from an agriculturally-driven community, to a more economically diverse suburbia.

The median household income exceeds $100,000, which is well above the national average. Racial makeup is the following: 82% Caucasian, 16% Hispanic, 5% Asian, 3% African American, 1% Native American, and .25% Pacific Islander. Figures exceed 100% due to mixed races. 6% of the population is listed in the Census as “Other Races.”

Mormonism is Gilbert’s most practiced religion.

Gilbert is generally known as a “safe” city in terms of crime. There were no murders in 2005, 2007, and 2014, and few otherwise violent crimes. Conversely, from 2014-2017, property crimes averaged 1400 yearly.

The city has won awards for its safety, and is widely considered one of the favored places to live in the state of Arizona. Various properties in town are considered historic, a label which brings a slew of tourists every year, most who pass through typically from Arizona vacations.

Though Gilbert is a city rich in natural beauty – like much of the state – and a certain sense of security in terms of crime, however, like some other Arizona cities drug abuse is omnipresent.

Pot and alcohol abuse are most popular with young people, college-aged and below. For those older, prescription opiates are the city’s largest problem. Treatment admissions for cocaine are higher here than in much of the state. Heroin use is growing, especially as misuse of painkillers fails, after time, to deliver its desired effect on the part of the user.  

Any examination of Gilbert’s drug problem, however, should include statewide statistics for perspective.

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If you live in Gilbert and have fallen victim to substance abuse don’t hesitate to seek treatment. There are enormous resources in at your disposal.

Crime in Gilbert, Arizona

Relative to Gilbert’s drug culture are recent headlines proclaiming its recent drug arrests: Police Say Bust a ‘Deadly Blow’ to Major Drug Ring; 13 Arrested After Drug-Related Warrants Issued in Chandler, Gilbert, and Phoenix; Eight Teens Could Face Charges in Maricopa Drug Ring; Meth Found in System of Preschooler, Gilbert Couple Arrested; Gilbert Man Murdered for Marijuana; and Police: Drug Dealer Sold Heroin to Gilbert Teens as Young as 15.

Here at The Recover, we frequently reprint such headlines to punctuate present issues. Each of the headlines above were from calendar years 2017 and 2018.

Some citywide statistics of note:

  • From 2013-2018, Gilbert – and Maricopa County – saw a year-to-year increase in treatment center admissions for other opioids (opioids other than heroin).
  • Cocaine-related inpatient hospital admissions in Maricopa County, which declined during 2007–2012, were relatively flat in 2013, and have seen a small increase from then to 2018.
  • Cocaine treatment episodes in Gilbert (as a percentage of total treatment episodes) declined during 2007–2009 but were stable during 2010–2013, and have lightly increased in conjunction with the rest of Maricopa County in general.
  • Amphetamine-related hospital admissions increased year-to-year during 2009–2017.
  • The bulk of the increase in amphetamine-related hospital admissions was among patients age 40 and older.
  • Heroin and opioid-related hospital admissions rose in 2013, extending an upward trend that has continued since 2005 (heroin/opioid-related hospital admissions include admissions related to heroin and other opioids). Primary heroin treatment episodes (as a percentage of total treatment episodes) also increased in 2013.
  • Marijuana-related hospital admissions increased in the second half of 2013, and have continued said increase year-to-year.
  • The top four drugs identified among items analyzed by the National Forensic Laboratory Information System (NFLIS) from the Maricopa County area during 2013 were marijuana/cannabis, methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine. Oxycodone, a prescription opioid, was the fifth most common drug report identified among drug items seized and analyzed by NFLIS laboratories in 2013.
  • By 2017, prescription opioids was nearly equivalent with marijuana and alcohol as the city’s primary drug issue.
  • Cross-border marijuana trafficking by drones have increased in the area.

Again, Gilbert is a city with a low crime rate, almost historically so for the state. But its drug scourge remains a major issue.

Drugs Abused in Arizona

In 2010, for the first time more Arizona residents died from drug overdoses than car accidents. That same year, the state was listed as #6 in the country for overdose fatality rates.

Years later, the scourge shows little sign of abating. Opiates have taken hold as Arizona’s top drug problem, closely mirroring national trends.

The following bullet points elucidate some general information about Arizona’s most notable current drug issues:

  • Arizona’s prescription opioid and benzodiazepine-related fatalities increased 16% from 2013 to 2014.
  • 2017 figures have shown a 25% increase from 2014 figures.
  • During that same timeframe, heroin-related deaths increased 44%.
  • 2017 figures have shown a 30% increase from 2014 figures.
  • Prescription opiates (most notably Oxycodone, marijuana, methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine represent the largest percentage of treatment admissions in the state.
  • On a year-to-year basis, increasing amounts of marijuana, methamphetamine and heroin enter the country from Arizona’s border. Trafficking remains a serious issue, as various regions in the state have been listed by the United States Department of Justice as HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area) strongholds.

No HIDTA stronghold, nor any city near a HIDTA stronghold, can be considered safe from the drug scourge. Maricopa County is a HIDTA region, which allows for federal funding to supplement local funding to fight the epidemic.

Pre-Intake Resources

Addiction materializes in three distinctive ways:

  1. Craving for the drug;
  2. Loss of control over use of the drug; and
  3. Continuing to use regardless of damaging effects.

The word “addiction” originated from a Latin term for “bound to” or “enslaved by.” Any person who has struggled with addiction, or has tried to help a loved one who is or was suffering from addiction, surely understands the truth of this translation. Addiction can begin innocently enough, and frequently does, with an experimental or recreational use of alcohol or drugs in a social situation. For some, however, such innocuous experimentation or recreation can signal the beginning of more frequent use.

Your treatment will begin with a determination as to where you are in your addiction. The initial stage of substance usage is experimental. If the high or other desired effect is attained, recreational use usually follows. For those who choose to experiment with either alcohol or drugs, and said desired effect is not attained, the majority go no further or perhaps try once more following their first use. Most, however, do attain their high, which leads to the problem.

Continued use is the second state, and tolerance is the third, as the user will look for bigger fixes as old tolerances no longer apply. Abuse is the fourth stage, followed by addiction.

If you believe you have a problem, or are on the cusp of a problem, then it is time to seek help. Pre-intake is the process whereby a concerned user believes they may have a problem, and they begin the process of seeking help. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • “How long have I been using?”
  • “Do I believe I have a problem?”
  • “Do I think others who know me believe I have a substance-related problem?”
  • “Does it matter to me?”
  • “Have others confronted me with questions related to substance abuse?”
  • “Do I use alone, or in hiding?”
  • “Have I ever substituted one drug for another, thinking one particular drug was the problem?”
  • “Do I find the thought of running out of drugs scary?”
  • “Have I ever been in a jail, a hospital, or a drug rehabilitation center because of any using in the past?”
  • “Is this what I want with my life?”

If you find your answers to the following questions alarming, we suggest that you follow up with other, more positive questions:

  • “What are my life’s goals?”
  • “Where do I want to be in my life one year from now?”
  • “Where do I want to be in my life five years from now?”
  • “Where do I want to be in my life ten years from now?”

If like many users you cannot answer such goal-related questions, try this: “Where do I want to be tomorrow?” If your answer to this question is dark, or bleak, and related to depression, it’s time to seek treatment. Similarly, if your answer is something positive, the very fact that you have come to this point and have begun researching options also means it’s time to seek treatment.

If you do, your tomorrow may be exactly what you want it to be.

A brief disclaimer: As with any other self-diagnostic tool, questions such as these are exploratory only. You must speak to a trained and licensed professional for any true diagnosis.

Signs of Addiction

Some people have a hard time recognizing the signs of addiction. It is especially difficult to see it in someone that you love. There is that part of everyone that would rather remain in denial.

Physical Signs

Severe weight loss and change in appetite.

Declining physical appearance and lack of hygiene and grooming

Slurred speech and lack of coordination and impaired motor skills.

Odd smells on clothing, breath or dwelling

Change in sleeping patterns (sleeping more or sleeping less)

Behavioral Signs

Drastic change in attitude- has mood swings, emotional outburst and unnecessary anger

Dropping grades or poor performance at work, loss of job

Change in friends or hobbies

Risky behavior – multiple sex partners, illegal activity, getting in trouble with the law

Acting paranoid, fearful or appearing out of it

Inexplicable financial difficulties

Intake Services

During the intake application process, you will be required to list your prescription medications and days and times taken (if “none,” you check “none”), an authorization of medical care, a list of allergies or other medical issues, and a waiver of responsibility. Some applications ask more. A physician or treatment center representative will then review your application for the proper steps, and treatment.

One of the greatest benefits of a well-thought treatment plan is that every day will bring a new step in your treatment, and each step will lead to another. During this process, you may well learn of the stringency and urgency of structure, especially if your problem is too large for outpatient therapy, and in-patient will be your next step. The structure you learn and the discipline you will attain will help you immensely during one of the advanced stages of your formal treatment process: the sober house.

Conversely, one of the more difficult aspects of the intake process is one of trust. We all know that a user does not always trust easily. If you fall into this category, we need to reinforce to you that your treatment team is there for you. They will spend the time working with you and for you. In as much as you can, speak to them openly. If you believe a given treatment as administered by a professional is disagreeable to you, you need to make that known to them.

We’ve spoken about the power of commitment on these pages before. There will be an element in your treatment of letting go of any defiance and trusting others. Trust usually comes in time.

As we said, intake is but a step in a larger process

What is the Detox process like?

Detox addresses the physical hold of an addiction. The length of a detox program will vary based on several factors, including the nature of the addiction, and of the addict’s personality. Regarding the former, chemical dependency frequently occurs that must be medically handled, as your brain has become fully dependent on further use of the substance in order to function. This is a medical issue that will frequently require medication to handle.

During the early phases on detoxification, withdrawal will occur which can be a painful process. Your system will be cleaned of the drug, and your brain will learn to operate as it once did. Certain withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening, which punctuates the importance of full and systemic treatment.

Factors that can influence the longevity of the detox aspect of your treatment program include:

  1. Poly-drug abuse;
  2. Pre-existing medical or mental health conditions;
  3. Your level of dependence;
  4. Genetics;
  5. Willingness;
  6. Previous trauma;
  7. Environment (both that of your home life and the environment of your support system)

The concept and practice of detox is typically broken down into three distinct phases: Evaluation, Stabilization, and Transition to Inpatient Drug Rehabilitation.

Inpatient Beginnings

Post-withdrawal, the process of your ongoing recovery can be either inpatient, or outpatient. Inpatient treatment is appropriate for more severe cases, and the generally more flexible outpatient treatment is geared towards those with a more moderate addiction (though addiction is still addiction) and a stronger support system in their home environment.

Inpatient treatment can either be a PHP (a partial hospitalization providing a highly-structured environment, with typically active treatment of 30 hours per week), the less-intensive IOP (intensive outpatient treatment plan, which requires up to three hours daily over 3-5 days, for a total of nine hours weekly; therapy is usually included, but the patient can live either at their own home or a halfway house during the process), or an RTC (residential).

Most inpatient therapies, regardless of option will last 5-10 days. They can last longer based on the severity of the problem, and the patient’s physical and mental fitness.

Among its services, a PHP will most frequently incorporate intensive one on one therapy in its treatment program. The reason for this is most PHP admissions are due to disturbances in behavior from the drug being abused, or for those who experience otherwise increased symptomatology. In a PHP, the patient is often isolated and of no risk to other patients.

PHPs and RTCs are highly-structured treatment options. PHPs are the most structured options of all. If you have little structure in your home environment, both of these invaluable choices will likely take some time getting used to. That said, the importance to your overall treatment plan cannot be understated.

Note: Substance use disorder treatment is listed as one of the 10 Most Essential Health Benefits of the Affordable Care Act, meaning that your care is covered if you have health insurance. If you do not have insurance, many treatment centers offer financial aid.

Always ask when you speak to a treatment advisor if this is a concern, as inpatient treatment is more expensive than outpatient.

The Outpatient Approach

Outpatient treatment is often preferred when one has substantial duties in their outside environment, such as school or family. In fact, family and friend group therapy is often included in this option, which is quite flexible in its scheduling. Outpatient treatment has proven to be very effective for those with underlying causes for their addiction, such as eating disorders, to grasp the root of their substance-related issues in a more relaxed setting among familiar support systems.

As an outpatient, you are not enmeshed in a structured environment, you live at home and you are not under constant supervision.

However, outpatient treatment is no less important or helpful than inpatient treatment. Though the scheduling of your appointments may be flexible, you still need to commit to the time. If you miss one appointment, you will likely miss another.

Ask yourself if you are responsible enough for an outpatient program. If you are, and you maintain your treatment, the rewards can be innumerable.

Both inpatient and outpatient treatment are comprehensive approaches to wellness. You will face temptations in both but as long as you remain responsible, you will also learn specific strategies as to how to deal with them. It is up to you to take advantage of those lessons.

What happens next?

Sober living may be the final step in your formal treatment plan before returning home, but treatment never really ends. Sober living houses provide the interim environment between rehab and mainstreaming back to your natural environment. The reason for the initial formation of sober houses was simple: a person in recovery frequently needed a safe and supportive place to stay, during the vulnerability of early recovery, prior to returning home.

Sober houses are also highly-structured, and most residents are referred to a sober living environment from a rehab center. Requirements and rules are strict, and they usually include:

  • No drugs or alcohol on the premises;
  • No violence;
  • No overnight or sleepover guests, not even family;
  • Commitment to random drug testing;
  • Involvement in a community-related program;
  • Acceptance by a peer group;
  • Acceptance of advice from treatment professionals;
  • Respect for the rules of the house;
  • Following all directions;
  • No swearing;
  • No stealing;
  • No sexual activity between residents;
  • Honesty;
  • As part of a recovering community, if you see or hear any resident breaking the rules of the community, they must be reported immediately to appropriate staff;
  • Anyone on prescribed medication must inform the house manager upon admittance;
  • Residents must attend all sober house meetings;
  • Residents must submit to drug and/or alcohol tests upon request;
  • Rooms must be clean at all times;
  • Chores must be completed without argument;
  • Curfew must be respected.

Many of the above rules are enforced with a Zero Tolerance Policy. Meaning, if any of these rules are broken even once, you risk being kicked out of your sober living home. If you had experienced structure during your prior treatment to this point, you should be in good shape

What's in store for Gilbert?

Gilbert, Arizona is an anomaly: a relatively low-crime city with a substantial drug problem. As the surrounding Maricopa County is considered a HIDTA region, drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) are common.

The fastest-growing issue, consistent with present statewide (and national) trends, is that the abuse of prescription opioids is not only a problem for those who use, but also with the children of those who use who steal the medication to sell on the street, or otherwise trade for pot or alcohol – preferred substances for their own personal usage.

Heroin, a synthetic opioid, has increased year-to-year since 2013. Meth is a large issue, most especially the abuse of Oxycodone.

Based in part on recent statistics and studies, our outlook for Gilbert is this:

  • Drug traffickers will continue to pivot and take advantage of the opioid epidemic;
  • Stronger synthetic heroin will increase production;
  • Opioid abuse will increase pending still-further efforts;
  • Pot and Alcohol use will remain consistent, and especially popular among young people;
  • Cocaine will remain readily-accessible.

For yourself, your friends and/or your family, we advise that you continue to be aware of your community’s substance issues, and suggest that you get involved in the city’s various awareness campaigns.

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