Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Long Beach

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Long Beach, California

Long Beach is a city within the Greater Los Angeles region of the state of California, and the second-largest city in the region’s metropolitan area. It ranks 36 in the list of most populated cities in the U.S., and is the 7th most populace in California. Long Beach borders Orange County and is the southeastern corner of Los Angeles County. The Port of Long Beach remains among the largest shipping ports in the world, and is the second largest container port in the country. 

The city has a total area of 51.437 miles, of which 1.144 square miles is water.    

The last-recorded population of Long Beach, in 2016, listed 470,130 residents. 2018 estimates are just under 472,000. In the most recent Census, the particularly diverse Long Beach population was broken down as follows: 46.1% Caucasian, 13.5% African American, 12.9% Asian (defined as Filipino, Cambodian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Korean, Thai, Laotian, and Hmong). 1.1% was listed as “Other Races.” Hispanic or Latino of Any Race represented 40.8% of the Long Beach population.

The city has been nicknamed the “Aquatic Capital of the World,” due to its temperate climate, secure sailing waters, and large number of water-sport-related Olympic world champions.

Long Beach has a rich cultural identity. Shops and galleries abound in the East Village Arts District. The Arts Council of Long Beach and the Redevelopment Agency supports and funds new arts programs, and commissions new projects. Street art is celebrated in the city, some of it commissioned by the Mural and Cultural Arts Program. Museums such as the Long Beach Museum of Art and the Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum are well-traveled downtown favorites. The Long Beach Symphony and the Long Beach Opera are highly popular for music devotees, and theaters abound.

Sports aficionados likewise have no shortage of citywide sporting events to attend.

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Perhaps most well-regarded site for tourists is Long Beach’s famed Aquarium of the Pacific, which encourages families of all cultural backgrounds to learn about and get motivated to solve the world’s most pressing environmental issues.   

Unfortunately, however, though the city’s downtown area is as heavily-built as many metropolitan areas, and is considered a Southern California cultural hub, Long Beach suffers from some of the worst air pollution in the country. Lung issues among residents are common, especially asthma. Some of the pollution is due to ship and other exhausts (train and trucks, primarily) emanating from the port; some is due to the encroaching winds from Los Angeles. 

Long Beach, primarily due to its proximity to downtown Los Angeles, and its easily-accessible transportation by car, rail, bus, or boat, is considered a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

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

DRUG ABUSE STATISTICS

The following statistics were published in 2016 for the prior calendar year for Long Beach, California. Subsequent yearly estimates, according to various online sources, remain flat from these numbers:

  • Nearly 10% of the Long Beach population are regular drug users, with the majority considered drug addicts and users of illicit drugs.
  • Drug-related emergency room admissions in 2015 were the following: 432 for Cocaine, 962 for Heroin, 192 for Meth, 97 for Ecstasy, 384 for OxyContin, 337 for Percocet, 240 for Vicodin, and 481 for Xanax.
  • 7,062 Long Beach residents in 2015 were said to be both alcohol consumers, and alcohol consumers who combined drink with drugs.
  • 6,749 residents in 2015 admitted to using or abusing marijuana. It remains common for a user to visit various doctors until they receive a legal prescription, due to the legalization of medical marijuana. Purchasing from dispensaries is also typical, and both options are presently being reconsidered by authorities due to widespread misuse.
  • 18% of the Long Beach population is said to be addicted to heroin. Affordability is key. 50 grams of the opiate averages $10, and Black Tar Heroin typically sells for $10 a hit.
  • 3,441 Long Beach residents have admitted to a crack addiction.
  • Abuse of prescription medication is an ongoing issue, following national trends. Of the nearly 44,000 drug addicts in the city, an estimated 1500 abuse prescription medication, most commonly OxyContin and Percocet. Children between 12-17 are the fastest-growing of all addicted groups, having stolen the drugs from their parents. In some instances, these children also substantially traffic in prescription medication, frequently selling or trading for stronger, illicit drugs.
  • Tranquilizers and sedatives, and PCP and hallucinogens are ongoing issues, but to a much lesser extent than those listed above.

DRUG ABUSE AND CRIME

In Long Beach, as with California proper, drug-related crimes can be defined as:

  • Possession, regardless of for personal use, or intent to sell, traffic, distribute, or manufacture.
  • Conspiracy regarding any of the above.

Within the state, the four major types of drug charges are:

  • Possession for personal use: This is considered a felony for most controlled substances. Misdemeanor charges include marijuana possession, being under the influence, or possession of drug paraphernalia.
  • Possession for sale: This is a felony. Proof of actual sale is not required, and money does not need to be exchanged. Intent can be proven due to evidence such as drug packaging, the presence of scales, cutting agents and visitors to your place of business at all hours.
  • Drug trafficking is a felony, unless less than 28.5 grams of marijuana is transported, in which case the crime is considered a misdemeanor.
  • Manufacturing is a felony.

Punishments include imprisonment, seizure of property as part of forfeiture proceedings, loss of driver’s license and more. Prior criminal records are frequently considered; a second offense for possession may net a minimum three-year enhancement to the sentence for the offense itself. 

California laws for alternative sentencing include the following:

  • Under Proposition 36, the three year enhancement – and the original sentence – can be altered in the event of a non-violent offense for “simple drug possession.” This includes one year of an intensive treatment program.
  • Deferred Entry of Judgement (“Diversion”): The defendant pleads guilty, but is not convicted. In this event, the case is put on hold for 18 months, during which time said defendant must enroll in a six-month drug education course, and not be charged with another related crime thereafter. After 18 months, the felony is erased.
  • A supervision and treatment program, offered in phases. Once completed, the case is dismissed and removed from the defendant’s record.

In 2017, city-wide drug-related crime statistics included the following: 446 counts of theft, 148 counts of burglary, 68 counts of assault, and 42 counts of robbery.

A January 2018 Long Beach DUI and driver’s license checkpoint, at the intersection of Artesia Boulevard and Cherry Avenue – where 265 drivers were screened – yielded the following results: One person was arrested for being under the influence of marijuana and was arrested, six drivers were cited for operating a vehicle with either a suspended or revoked driver’s license in part due to past alcohol offenses – five drivers had no license and two citations for unsafe driving were issued.

These results were telling, as an exploration into past records showed a tendency towards drug and alcohol offenses.

PRE-INTAKE RESOURCES

To determine the extent and nature of one’s addiction, pre-intake questions may include the following:

  • “How long have you been using?”
  • “Do you believe you have a problem?”
  • “Do you think others who know you believe you have a substance-related problem?”
  • “Have others confronted you with questions related to substance abuse?” “Do you ever use alone?”
  • “Have you ever substituted one drug for another, thinking one particular drug was the problem?”
  • “Does the thought of running out of drugs terrify you?”
  • “Have you ever been in a jail, a hospital, or a drug rehabilitation center because of your using?”

You can find pre-intake sample applications online. In this case, as with any other self-diagnostic tool, the questions as asked are exploratory only. You must speak to a trained and licensed professional for any true diagnosis. Still, such online tools such as a pre-intake questionnaire can be extremely useful. If you can honestly answer those questions, you may be validated, or you may dislike your responses. If you were drawn to the tool, likely both will apply. Regardless, consider your results, and then take necessary action.

There are pros and cons with online resources such as these, particularly when it comes to completely basing your treatment decisions on your own responses. That would be a negative, as remember, such questions are guidelines only without a trained professional to analyze your answers. Regardless of whether such questions are based on true-life examples of treatment center queries (they usually are), you may not be the best arbiter of your responses. Most especially if you are under the influence of any drug, or alcoholic drink. On the positive side, if you can be truthful with your answers, such online questions will certainly provide a glimpse into your condition, and the need for help.

INTAKE SERVICES

Many addicts, or users with a problem whose usage is not yet defined as an addiction, make the mistake of not taking the first step towards sobriety as it regards intake. If you need help in making an informed decision as to what treatment method is right for you, we cannot encourage you strongly enough to, again, speak to family and/or friends who have been there before. Sometimes, a user has a difficult time making such decisions with a clear head.

And once more, if you know of no one who has been through these issues before, please contact one of the centers as listed on this page.

Also, we encourage you to ask yourself a few questions:

  • 1) What is holding you back from getting help?
  • 2) Do you believe you have a support system? If so, do you feel comfortable contacting them and speaking about your problem? If not, would you feel more comfortable contacting a professional?
  • And 3) Do you believe you are capable of making an informed decision as to your treatment? If yes, you are well-advised to take advantage of one or more of the resources here. If no, you are strongly advised to contact one of the phone numbers listed here, and discuss your reservations.

Again, they are there to help.

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.

DETOX SERVICES

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

Evaluation: As overseen by a doctor, who will determine what drugs are presently being used, how long has the patient been using, and how much and how frequently the patient uses.

Stabilization: As expounded on the site, stabilization differs patient to patient, based on specific substance being abused. This is the end result of the withdrawal phase.

Transition to Inpatient Drug Rehab: Many addicts believe that once they complete withdrawal, they are finished with their treatment. That is a dangerous belief, as withdrawal only releases the immediate physical hold of the substance.

Communication is key. Some users are resistant to treatment, most especially when in a treatment center against their will. In this instance, your communication with your specialists will be at risk. Remember, they are there to help you. You have the freedom to ask questions, and the right to receive answers.

That is one of the benefits of treatment, a better understanding of your illness.

INPATIENT TREATMENT RESOURCES

Inpatient treatment is frequently misunderstood, as there are several options available to the user under that umbrella title. Many people believe the term to refer to only hospital treatment. Or, only highly-restrictive treatment. In reality, it is neither.

Inpatient treatment can either be 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), and an RTC (residential).

Though you may be the best determinant of the degree of inpatient recovery resources best suited to your needs, frequently one may need the help of family or friends to help you more clearly identify the treatment options that are most prudent for your needs. From there, only your personal commitment will determine your success.

PHPs and RTCs are amazing resources for those with more severe or difficult abuse issues. Both options are highly-structured, especially the former. The importance of structure cannot be understated. You will have a time for medicinal treatment, a time for personal or group therapy, a time to rest, a time for activities …

Frequently, a user has little structure outside of the treatment center. The user is more interested in the high than by scheduling their day via their clock. The structure of PHP treatment, particularly, may be a challenge for some. But, if you allow the treatment to take its course, the end-result can exceed your most optimistic hopes.

So ask yourself: “Do I do well in a structured environment?” “Am I functional in a structured environment, or will I have a better chance to succeed with something less restrictive? As ever, a user if not always the best determinant as to treatment. If a user is high while making the decision, that will be in no one’s best interests. It’s time to commit, with as free a sense of mindfulness as possible.

OUTPATIENT TREATMENT RESOURCES

Outpatient treatment is a comprehensive approach to wellness, and no less impactful than inpatient services. Please research the importance of outpatient treatment resources on The Recover, or speak to loved ones who have been through the process. Recovery is an ongoing process, which requires a substantive lifestyle change to avoid the ever-present threat of a relapse.

Outpatient treatment allows the patient a certain level of responsibility to remain clean while outside of the treatment center. You will face temptations but will have also learned specific strategies as to how to deal with them. It is up to you to take advantage of those lessons. There is a certain degree of trust on the part of the outpatient treatment administrators that the user will remain clean, and at the same time outpatient treatment allows for the user to remain productive on the outside while still receiving help. If you work, you can schedule your outpatient appointments or check-ins after hours.

One very important point, though, under this or any treatment circumstance: The entirely of your treatment is a commitment. Outpatient or not, if you miss one appointment you will likely miss another.

That is a recipe for failure. What you allow, you encourage.

Remember this as you move forward in your treatment. There are countless reasons why one would fail, in this or any other environment. Laziness, rigidity, intimidation.

But … there are fewer reasons to succeed: Yourself, first of all, then your loved ones (your collective of family and friends). Which means more to you? The pain of the commitment to get well, or the pleasure of using? If you answer the latter question as your affirmative, consider those loved ones who care about you, and worry about you. 

On that note, let us elaborate upon the concept of commitment for a moment. Some users resent the term, thinking many of those who do not use, or who are not otherwise plagued by addiction, tend to believe commitment is that much easier than it truly is. How can a user commit to anything at all, one may ask, much less treatment if said user is overwhelmed by their addiction?

It is very difficult. Really, it is. But you can do this. You can reclaim your life, as none of us are defined by our addictions.

AFTERCARE AND SOBER LIVING RESOURCES

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.

Remember, your treatment is a process. Skipping time, or skipping steps, does neither you nor your community any favors.

“The Recover” is here to help. Please contact us if you have any questions, or comments.

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