Thursday, February 21, 2019

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Fontana, California Fights A Drug Addiction Crisis

Heroin in Fontana, California is quickly becoming the drug of choice.  Though law enforcement and social services battled meth-related crimes and addiction in the past, the shift to heroin is becoming an alarming new statistic in the Fontana area. This is due to heroin becoming less expensive than meth and the drug is also becoming easier to obtain, according to Fontana, California law enforcement officials.  The increase in heroin use has also been directly tied to prescription drug abuse. The California Department of Health has identified the link between prescription OxyContin and other painkillers and a shift to heroin for its reduced cost. The scenario is common across the US and the state of California. Individuals start taking prescribed pain medications for medical conditions. Because of the highly addictive nature of these drugs, a psychological and physical dependency develops quickly. When physicians refuse to renew prescriptions, individuals are left with a powerful craving. In no time, they turn to the cheaper alternative of heroin.

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

Along with the abuse of prescription pills that begin in medical offices, there is also the theft of prescription drugs from households.  As the demand for prescription drugs grows, teens look to their parent’s medicine chests for drugs they can easily sell on the street. Oxycontin can fetch $40 to $80 a pill. OxyContin addiction currently claims victims between the ages of 12 and 24.  When prescription pain killer supplies run out, heroin becomes the next viable option to produce the same high.

Recent studies reveal more than 2,500 people are addicted to opioids in the Fontana area. When a new version of OxyContin was introduced that made it more difficult to inhale or inject the drug, it only increased the demand for heroin.

Because nearly 8, 200 Americans die every year from heroin overdose, law enforcement across the country is turning to new drug technologies to help prevent overdose deaths.  

As Fontana law officers and paramedics are usually the first on the scene of an addiction, they have been trained and are now equipped with Naloxone to stop heroin overdoses. The drug blocks the effects of opioids and has become beneficial in the prevention of overdose deaths. Officers and paramedics can inject the drug to produce positive results. Naloxone can also be sprayed in the nose.  Depending on the severity of the episode, numerous doses may be administered to stop an overdose in progress.

Reversing the impact heroin has had on the community has also become a key issue with educators and local government. Efforts to stop the spread of heroin in Fontana have included intensive public service campaigns and more engaged classroom activities directly addressing heroin and its hazards. There are also efforts to prevent prescription pills from reaching the streets by providing drop boxes for unused and expired medications.  

How Heroin Causes Overdose

Along with its powerful euphoric high, heroin also has a relaxing effect on the body.  Breathing slows down and heart rate decreases.  At the peak of a heroin overdose the heart slows down so much, it almost stops.

Even if an addict can avoid the fatality of an overdose, there is still a long-term impact on the body.    Heroin use over time destroys organs like the kidneys and the liver. The drug damages the immune system making many heroin addicts highly susceptible to respiratory infections and pneumonia.

Behavioral risk factors from heroin addiction may include infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis, contracted through the user of hypodermic needles to administer the drug. HIV and hepatitis infections rank high among heroin addicts using shared needles.

Helping an Heroin Addict Seek Recovery

When a loved one becomes addicted to heroin, family members need to convince the addicted they are suffering from a destructive disease and that recovery and hope is possible. Identifying drug use is the first step to recovery.

Red Flags of Heroin Addiction

Knowing the indicators of addiction can help make it easier to move toward intervention. Look for:

  • Periods of depression, sometimes severe
  • Severe chills and fever that a loved one might blame on the flu
  • A lack of interest in activities that once were important
  • Deceit about their whereabouts and actions
  • Social isolation and separation from friends and family
  • Things go missing. Theft becomes common to obtain money for heroin
  • Needle marks appear on arms and legs. Addicts will make up lies about accidents to explain the wounds

How a Non-Fatal Overdose Can be A Sign of Hope

If a loved one overdoses and ends up in the hospital, it gives family the chance to confront the individual about their addiction.  The traumatic experience of an overdose can be a wakeup call for an addict. Family needs to step in at this critical time to convince a loved one to seek help.  Ideally, the hospital stay can become an easy transition into long-term residential treatment. Hospitals offer the pre-intake exams that can get an addict ready for the road to recovery.

Pre-Intake Tests Help Create a Treatment Plan

Physical Examination- a physician determines if there are any other medical problems other than addiction that may complicate drug addiction treatment.

Psychological Exam-the impact of drugs on the mind can be severe and if other mental illness issues are present, this can make drug treatment very complex. Identifying any mental disorders is one of the goals of pre-intake.

Toxicology Tests- A drug test determines the number of drugs being used and what drugs are being used. This test will help refine the treatment program for the user based on the matrix of substances they are abusing.

Personal History- Knowing the background to an addicted person’s life is helpful for refining a treatment plan, dynamics of family life, a history of  physical abuse or a history of undiagnosed mental disorders may all be in the past of a person with addiction.

The Addiction Treatment Process

There are various steps involved in addiction treatment and recovery. Having knowledge of them can help just about anyone understand how treatment is done. Here is a list of FAQ about rehab to look over.

Creating a Plan for Treatment

Recovery specialists will use the information provided in pre-intake to develop a customized plan to fit an addicted person’s recovery. That plan will include:

How long they will stay in residential treatment. A thirty to ninety course of action is decided upon, usually based on the severity of the addiction, as well as what types of drugs the addicted has been using. The length of time those drugs have been used is also taken into consideration.

Determining if medications will be prescribed. Medications will assist with detox as well as long-term management of drug cravings. The personal will and commitment of the person will be taken into account to decide what and if medications will be used as part of the recovery plan. Some medications may be prescribed long after treatment is finished and some may only be used during detox.

If additional medical treatment it necessary. If personal health problems such a diabetes or heart issues are a part of the person’s makeup, doctors need to be included in the recovery process. Also, if diseases or conditions acquired from addiction are present, they too must be treated along with addiction.

If psychological treatment is necessary. If mental disorders already exist, then drugs may be necessary to manage those illnesses. That compounds the treatment process and may involve a psychiatrist to be part of the treatment team.

What wellness programs can be helpful. As part of treatment, recovery specialistd may recommend exercise and diet to help the recovering heal through lifestyle changes.

The number of individual therapy sessions. The frequency of group sessions and even the type of group sessions will be designed by recovery specialists. Also, if individual therapy sessions are necessary, they will be included in the treatment plan.

The role of family in treatment. If family life contributed to the addiction, it may not be recommended at the residential treatment level that family be involved. It will be encouraged that family visit recovering addicts, but family treatment may more likely occur after residential treatment is finished.

Detox Begins

Detoxing is the process of purging heroine from the body. In this process, however, the body reacts physically to the absence of the drug and symptoms of withdrawal can be dramatic.  Because of the potential for serious medical emergencies, no one should ever attempt detox on their own.  Under the supervision of recovery specialists, the detox process, though difficult, can be conducted in a safe environment. Recovery specialists may administer drugs to help ease the symptoms of withdrawal. They will closely monitor the process for medical issues and provide the moral support to help the addicted through this critical stage of treatment.

How Long Does Detox Take?

Detox is a process that begins dramatically after the last dose of a drug is taken, to the long days and nights were withdrawals and cravings are managed.

6-12 Hours

The addicted will experience severe cramping and nausea. Trembling and difficulty breathing will persist. Diarrhea and vomiting will occur. Agitation and anxiety may become the emotional state and periods of depression will follow. Many addicts describe the experience as a “tearing up” of the body.

1-3 Days

Within a period of days, the cravings for the drug will return. The body will continue its violent response with nausea and vomiting, Cramping, especially stomach cramps, will be common. Feelings of depression start to set in. The risk of suicide is common as is the risk of abandoning treatment and lapsing back into drug use. The recovery center specialists are there to monitor the detox process and protect the recovering addict.

1 Week and Beyond

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome and Anhedonia

Post-acute withdrawal syndrome is the compound of symptoms that occur long after detox process is completed. During this period, the recovering addict experiences the greatest urges to relapse into drug use, not only to get high, but simply to feel well again. Drugs like heroin make the body dependent for personal survival.  Deep depression and difficulty thinking clearly make every day hard. A common phenomenon is a condition called anhedonia, which is the inability to feel pleasure. Without the drug, the recovering cannot enjoy any other aspect of life, whether it be food, sex or even a joke. It is through extensive treatment, that the recovering can overcome the lasting effects of heroin and see the light of a sober life.

Traditional Detox vs. Accelerated Detox

There are other options to traditional detox. Accelerated detox reduces the overall detox period to a few days. This is achieved by sedating the person seeking recovery so that they simply sleep through all the horrible withdrawal symptoms. When they awake, they can begin long-term treatment. Though there are concerns from doctors about this controversial approach, many recovering addicts have sworn by this treatment. It is important to weight the options.

Traditional Detox

The individual experiences the harshness of withdrawal which discourages relapse in the future.

Accelerated Detox

These symptoms are not experienced, making it easier for a recovering addict to relapse.

Traditional Detox

The long-term emotional impact of detox is felt gradually.

Accelerated Detox

The emotional affects of detox are felt instantly once a person wakes up from an accelerated detox episode. The flood of emotion can be drastic.

Speaking to a recovery specialist about the options can also clarify the best course of detox treatment.

What is withdrawal? How long does it last?

Inpatient Residential Treatment vs. Outpatient Treatment

Once detox is completed, deciding on the best route for long-term treatment is next. Inpatient residential treatment is most common for heroin or opioid addiction, but outpatient is also an option for milder cases. The options must be weighed by a recovery specialist to determine what works best.

Inpatient Benefits

  • Round the clock support from medical, psychological and counseling professionals
  • A safe environment free of the temptation of drug use that exists in the outside world
  • The company of other recovering addicts who can offer their support through group sessions
  • Additional support for wellness including therapies for diet and exercise available while recovering in the facility
  • The immediate availability of specialists when problems arise including medical and relapse issues

Outpatient Benefits

  • Flexibility to continue with work and school while receiving treatment
  • The option to explore other types of treatment that fit your personality
  • Less stigma than inpatient residential treatment
  • Advisable for milder forms of addiction

Inpatient is Best for Coping Issues and Complex Addiction Cases

In many cases, if an individual is finding it very difficult to manage recovery without help, residential inpatient treatment is probably the best choice. Complex cases of addiction that include medical problems, psychiatric problem, or where the potential for exists would require a more closely monitored clinical environment. The closed and safe environment also offers the structured discipline and focus that is missing from an addict’s life. When the risk of relapse are great and personal issues are clearly impacting choice, inpatient may be mandatory for someone suffering through addiction.

Outpatient Works for Single Moms

One of the most surprising aspects of outpatient treatment, is its ability to help specific individuals with specific circumstances suffering from drug problems, such as single moms working through an addiction crisis. The idea that a mother will be isolated from their child during addiction recovery is dramatic and can be detrimental to the success of recovery. With outpatient treatment, a mother can continue raising her child while still getting the help she needs. Similar situations have also been accommodated by outpatient treatment, making it a versatile option with anyone with other responsibilities. However, the severity of the addiction must be considered. If too severe, outpatient is in most cases the recommended course of action.              

Should I choose inpatient or outpatient?

Twelve Steps Programs and Aftercare: How Twelve Step Programs Can Change a Life After Treatment

Regardless of the treatment program selected, at some point they will both include a twelve-step program.  This type of therapy has become a primary method in drug addiction treatment for both impatient residential and outpatient treatment. In aftercare, a twelve-step program will focus on spiritual and psychological healing to help reinforce the mind against the temptations that continue to exist for any recovering addict.  Using attainable goals as the basis for long-term sobriety, twelve step programs offer hope for recovering addicts.  

Twelve step programs have continued to help recovering addicts maintain sobriety for years after treatment. Even through relapse, twelve step groups have assisted a recovering addict through the misstep and have gotten back on the track to sobriety.

Each Step of the Twelve Step Ladder

  1. No longer pretending to have control over drugs, rather embracing self-control over life
  2. Escaping self-centeredness
  3. Turning toward spirituality
  4. Not being afraid to self-examine as a process of confronting the personal demons that drive addiction
  5. No longer avoiding blame and accepting responsibility for personal actions
  6. Rely on and trust spiritual healing for recovery
  7. Pray to God for personal strength
  8. Make amends for the wrongs you have made as an addict
  9. Always be ready to make amends in the present and future for personal mistakes
  10. Always seek forgiveness
  11. Use prayer and meditation to heal
  12. Work toward a point of spiritual awakening

How Many Twelve Step Programs Become Like Family

The longer many recovering individuals have spent in sessions, the more likely a bond is formed.  This has been one of the greatest assets of twelve step programs regardless of drug of choice.  The group session offers a healing sanctuary that a recovering addict may not be able to find anywhere else.  Relationships based on like experiences form and recovering addicts can help each other through personal crisis.

Leading a Sober Life After Addiction

Anyone recovering from drugs must make a sober living a mission.  However, it comes with great difficulty, as the constant threat of relapse looms its ugly head.   Triggers have to be understood and are a key topic of discussion in group sessions to beat relapse. 

Triggers are the positive memories of drug addiction that stimulate urges.  A trigger may be a location where drugs were commonly purchase. Just the mention of a street corner can stimulate a drug carving. Often, drug users will relate the experience of anticipating their high as they would get closer to that location. Other triggers, may be slang terms used for a drug of choice. Even used out of context in the sober world can activate a craving.

For this reason, addicts need to fully understand the triggers that can lead them down the path and relapse. Awareness is the first step to staying sober. 

Avoiding Drug Relationships

Along with triggers, the greatest threat to sobriety for any addict is old friends who were also drug addicts and may still be. Their reappearance in life can lead a recovering addict back to addiction. These relationships unfortunately must end in order for the recovering addict to continue a sober life.

Managing the Stresses of Sober Life

Because normal life stresses can be extremely difficult for a recovering addict, it is important that they address these issues in group sessions as well.  When family and work or school become too stressful, it is important that the recovering not let that become an excuse for relapse.

Talking About Temptation

Whether it is triggers stimulated accidentally in conversation, an old friend showing up at the door step or simply the pressure of paying bills, the solution for any recovering addict is to bring these issues to their group therapy sessions.  By talking through these temptations, recovering addicts can realize they are not alone with these pressures. Other recovering addicts become a support system like no other, helping them stay on track with sobriety, free of judgement.

Seeking Hope Over Addiction

The primary goal of all treatment, beginning with that first outreach from family and friends to the engagement of other recovering addicts in group sessions is to see the possibility of hope. Under the grip of drug addiction, many abandon all possibility of a future and often resign themselves to an early death. The many steps of drug addiction treatment put the potential for a new life on the horizon and make the dark memories of addiction seem like a nightmare from which they are now awake.

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