Wednesday, May 22, 2019

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The city of Sacramento is perhaps more famous for being the state capital of California than for its drug problem. Sacramento is infamous for being the city in all of California that has the highest rate of opioid abuse and overdose.

Opioid overdoses have been the bane of hospitals in the city. Most emergency room visits are the result of drug overdose. The number of people being attended to and admitted to hospitals because of opioid overdoses has been on the rise since 2006. 

The number of deaths in Sacramento, as a result of opioids however, seems to be going down since 2010, when it peaked.

There are several factors to blame the epidemic in the city. First and foremost are doctors who over prescribe painkillers. Next are drug dealers on the streets of Sacramento who either sell drugs to make a living or sell drugs to supplement another income.

A City's Burden

Taxpayers often have to bear the brunt of looking after drug addicts and residents in Sacramento. In 2010, they had to pay $2.27 billion dollars for substance abuse costs. When the damage to the drug addict’s quality of life was factored in, the cost rose to an astronomical $7.77 billion dollars.

When it comes to the most common drugs in the city, it comes as no surprise that methamphetamine and cannabis top the list of most common drugs. This is largely because the two drugs are grown and cultivated in the region extensively. 53% of all people arrested in the city test positive for cannabis. Another 40% of all arrestees tested positive for meth.  Other drugs such as cocaine and heroin are mostly trafficked in from Mexico.

The drug abuse death rate in the city has increased over the years from 6.49 deaths per 100,000 people in 2000 to more than double at 15.41 deaths per 100,000 people in 2007. There is a very strong correlation between the high death rate caused by drug abuse and the rise of drug use in the city.

While everything else might appear negative, there is one positive thing to remark about the city’s drug trend. The city’s drug related crime rate has actually gone down between the years 2000 and 2008. In 2000, the rate stood at 1,028 people per every 1,000 who got attacked, but in 2008 the rate had gone down significantly to 823 people per every 100,000.

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

Sacramento boasts several rehab centers with both inpatient and outpatient programs. One has the freedom to select group therapy sessions or is free to opt for private addiction counseling. There are also programs geared at those looking to detox or those who need intervention to help them stop. Many programs are low cost or are fully paid government sponsored programs. Some programs have no cost whatsoever.

Sacramento Surrounding Cities

Crime and Addiction

Addiction and crime usually go together, even if the crime is not drug related. In 2013 it was reported that 83% of males in Sacramento over the age of 18 had at least 1 drug in their system during the time of their arrest. 51% of these adult male arrests tested positive for methamphetamine at the time of their arrest, 60% tested positive for marijuana and 18% tested positive for opioid drugs like heroin and painkillers.

In Sacramento, the consequences of driving under the influence are unfortunately very common. In the year of 2014, there were 180,000 DUI related arrests in the Sacramento Metropolitan Area. In 2014, 57% of all motor vehicle crashes involved a driver under the influence, which led to 9,967 fatalities. There were also 2,000 pedestrian and cyclist injuries that resulted from being hit by an impaired driver.

Underage and Binge Drinking

Underage drinking has been a growing concern across America, and Sacramento is no exception. In the year 2016, 27% of 7th graders and 43% of 9th graders surveyed reported that they had tried alcohol before the age of 15. It can be assumed that these statistics are higher because the information was self-reported so there is the possibility they lied out of fear of punishment. In addition, 13% of 9th graders and 18% of 11th graders have admitted to binge drinking at least once. Binge drinking is defined as a male having 5 or more drinks or a female having four or more drinks in a 2-hour period.

In 2015, the Sacramento County Coalition for Youth developed a plan to address and put an end to underage drinking in the county. They have paired with the Division of Behavioral Health Services, Alcohol and Drug Services to address the problem and start taking action. A portion of the plan is to change society’s, particularly the underage society’s, views on underage drinking by altering social norms and media messages. They also plan to work with law enforcement and other organizations the across the county to change laws and policies that will make it more difficult for underage youth to get access to alcohol. The organization is working with the Sacramento County Superintendent of Schools to bring the program to middle and high schools in the county.

Sacramento Laws

Marijuana, like alcohol, is legal in the state of California, but still has a set of regulations that citizens must follow. Marijuana for medical use was legalized in 1996 under Prop 215, better known as The Compassionate Use Act. This makes it legal for patients with a doctor’s prescription and their caregivers to cultivate and use the drug for their own personal use. In 2018, the state legislature passed the Medicinal and Adult Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA). Under this act, patients who possess medical marijuana must have a registered, uniform license with them. These licenses must be registered at the Bureau of Cannabis Control and the drug must be properly packaged and labeled when being used for medicinal purposes.

As of 2017, recreational marijuana has also been legalized in the state of California under some conditions. Prop 64, more commonly known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) makes it legal for adults over the age of 21 to possess, use and grow the drug for their own recreational purposes. Any minors who are caught possessing, using or growing marijuana will face a punishment of 4 hours of counseling or a drug-education course and up to 10 hours of community service. Smoking the drug in public is also illegal, and violators could see anywhere from $100 to $250 in fines. Citizens are also only allowed to carry 28.5 grams, or one ounce, of the drug on them at any given time, and they are not permitted to take it across state lines even if both states permit recreational marijuana. Federal law requires that the drug has to be both grown and consumed in the same state. Growing marijuana in the home is also legal, but a person can only possess 6 fully grown plants at a time. Anyone who exceeds the 6-plant limit receives a fine of $500 per extra plant. Edible marijuana is also legal but is only allowed to have 10 milligrams or less of the THC, the active ingredient in the plant. It must also be properly labeled and kept in a childproof container at all times.

Driving under the influence of marijuana has the same types of punishment as driving drunk in California, and the state punishes fairly harshly for these crimes. Driving under the influence (DUI) is defined in California anyone 21 years or older with a 0.08% or higher blood alcohol concentration, anyone operating a commercial vehicle with a 0.04% blood alcohol level or anyone under the age of 21 with a 0.01% blood alcohol content. Punishments for DUIs are different for everybody depending on the person’s age, criminal history and the nature of the incident.

Under the Zero Tolerance Law, any driver under the age of 21 is not permitted to be impaired by any amount of any substance. There is no easier sentence for violating this law, even if the driver has no prior convictions and they are compliant during the arrest. Drivers under the age of 21 are only permitted to drive with alcohol in their vehicle if the bottle is sealed, unopened and full and they are in the company of a parent or guardian.

California also enacted a very strict Three Strikes Law that applies to people who have committed three serious or violent felonies, which includes some DUIs. After a person accumulates three of these types of convictions, they are sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years. While many people who have violated the Three Strikes Law are eligible for parole after 25 years, past criminal history and bad behavior during their sentence would make a person stay in prison for life.

A major organization in the area that helps to stop the rising trends in drug abuse is the Sacramento Area Intelligence/Narcotics Task Force. The ultimate goal of this multi-agency task force is to end all drug trafficking in Sacramento. The main methods they use to achieve this is to identify drug trafficking organizations in the city and assign leads to investigate these groups, so they can plan the appropriate action needed. They also work with existing law enforcement to develop new laws against drug use and trafficking as well as stronger enforcing existing laws.

Drug and Underage Alcohol Possession Consequences in Sacramento

Like every crime, drug and underage alcohol related crimes have their consequences. Drug possession almost always equals jail time. The length of the sentence is dependent on the nature of the crime the individual’s criminal past. Repeat offenders’ past crimes are considered and they typically receive harsher sentences. However, first time offenders usually face a lesser sentence and may also meet the requirements to take part in alternatives to jail time in the form of treatment.

One of the first options a first-time offender has is Deferred Entry of Judgement. To participate in this option, the client has to plead guilty to their possession charge. Once they plead guilt and the judge decides they qualify for the program, the will spend six months in a residential treatment program. Once they finish their treatment program, they are required to have regular check-ins with a probation officer or another specialist. If they remain drug free for 12 months following their treatment program, their case gets dismissed. They may also continue to receive treatment after taking part in this program, but it is not necessarily required after their 6-month ordered treatment.

Proposition 36 is another option for first-time offenders. Unlike the Deferred Entry of Judgement where the person spends 6 months in a residential facility, the California Department of Health will decide what level of treatment the person requires. This treatment could be any form of inpatient or outpatient program and might also be admission to a halfway house. Treatment at whichever program the person is placed in lasts for one year and takes the place of jail time or any other form of punishment.

A first-time offender of drug possession or related crimes may also take part in drug court. Drug court is a specific one-year program that provides counseling to drug offenders in an attempt to rehabilitate them rather than punishing them. People in drug court follow the 12-step program to achieve and maintain sobriety. They are also subject to random drug testing to ensure that they are staying honest with their treatment since it is usually outpatient and those participating may have access to drugs once they leave the program.

DUIs are also another drug and alcohol related crime Sacramento courts see fairly frequently. There are two main types of DUIs in the state of California – Federal DUIs and Misdemeanor DUIs. Federal DUIs that do not result in death or injury of any kind could have a punishment anywhere from 180 days in the county jail or 16 months-4 years in California State Prison. This is essentially the easiest punishment a person can receive for a federal DUI in California. Other punishments may be included in this charge like additional fines, making the DMV’s “Habitual Traffic Offender” list, loss of driver’s license for four or more years, 18 months of alcohol schooling, prohibition, and an increase in auto insurance. If death or injury was a result for driving under the influence, the punishments will be significantly increased and may include other serious charges like vehicular manslaughter.

Depending on the specific nature of the crime and the individual’s past criminal history, their charge may be reduced to a misdemeanor DUI. This could occur if it is the person’s first offense, they did not cause any injuries to any other individuals, and they behaved appropriately and complied with all the officers demands. In the state of California, it does not do a person any good to refuse a breath test like it may in other states, and that refusal will be held against them in court. It can lead to extra penalties and up to one-year suspension of their drivers licenses regardless of the verdict on the original charge. Agreeing to a breath test is another factor that could help a person reduce their charge to a misdemeanor DUI.

California also has specific punishments for anyone who refuses to take a breathalyzer or chemical test after they are pulled over. The first time refusing the test results in a suspended license for one year, the second offence results in a revoked license for 2 years and the third offense results in a revoked license for 3 years. While in some states it may be beneficial to refuse a breathalyzer test, in California it could cause you more trouble.

How Do You Know When Someone Is On Drugs?

When you suspect that a person you know may be abusing drugs, it can be both confusing and difficult to handle. Substance abuse is not something that can be taken lightly and can take an emotional toll on everybody involved.

One of the first questions someone may have if they suspect a loved one is on drugs is “what are the warning signs?” If you do not have experience with substance abuse, it can be pretty difficult to spot the signs, especially if they are subtle. Since every drug is different, they all have different side effects that can appear differently in each person. So how do you know if somebody is struggling with an addiction?

A good indicator is a long-term drastic personality change. If someone you know is usually very outgoing and personable but then quickly becomes very withdrawn and isolated for no apparent reason, that might be a warning sign that they are using drugs. Alternately, if a person who is usually shy and standoffish suddenly becomes the life of the party, that might also be a sign that they are using drugs.

Most Common Signs

While the warning signs of drug use depends on factors like the type of drug used, the length and severity of the abuse and the overall health of the individual. There are many general warning signs to look for that may indicate one of your loved ones being addicted to drugs. A person may have a significant change in personality over a short period of time. They may also have noticeable habit or priority changes, putting the addictive substance or the people associated with the addiction over other important things like work or family. They may also experience drastic changes in social network to people who share the same substance abuse addiction that they do. They may also start experiencing financial problems or start engaging in criminal activity that was previously out of character.  Other physical symptoms may include depression, anxiety, confusion, mental inhibition and delayed motor skills.

Warning Signs for Specific Substances

Alcohol: Alcohol is a legal substance that is very addictive and commonly abused by many youth and adults. Not every person who consumes alcohol becomes addicted, but once the symptoms of drinking start effecting a person’s life in a negative way, it becomes a problem and is considered alcoholism. People who are addicted to alcohol commonly partake in binge drinking, which is defined as a man who has five or more drinks or a woman who has four or more drinks in a two-hour period. Binge drinking might occur on a regular basis or happen infrequently, but still causes a significant problem in a person’s life.

                Warning Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse

  • Decreased involvement in activities
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Depression
  • Obsession with drinking
  • Restlessness
  • Erratic behavior
  • Violent behavior
  • Blackouts
  • Memory loss
  • Liver disease
  • Impaired judgement
  • Slurred speech
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting


Cocaine: Cocaine is a drug that effects dopamine, the neurotransmitter that is responsible for the formation of euphoric emotions, processing reward cues and the regulation of movement. Some people who report using cocaine say that they do it recreationally, meaning they are not reliant on a drug the same way that an addict does, and just take it to increase their mood, motivation and energy. Cocaine can be ingested in a number of ways such as snorting it, smoking it and injecting it into their veins. Cocaine may also have referred to other street names like coke, blow, crack and rock. Both recreational uses of cocaine and addicts may both experience the same symptoms.

                Warning Signs and Symptoms of Cocaine Abuse

  • Increased agitation
  • Increased enthusiasm
  • Disinhibition
  • Hyperactive
  • Cold-like symptoms
  • Nosebleeds (from snorting the drug)
  • Involuntary movements
  • Changes in concentration


Hallucinogens: Hallucinogens are drugs that alter a person’s awareness of their surroundings, thoughts and feelings. They typically experience hallucinations of objects or people that may not actually exist. Just like other drugs, hallucinogens are very addictive, and a person can develop a tolerance to them. This means that each time a person takes a hallucinogen, they may need to take more of the drug to experience the same effects they had the previous time. Some hallucinogens can be found in nature like Ayahuasca this is found in some Amazonian plants, DMT that is also found in Amazonian plants and peyote that is found in certain types of spineless cacti, or they can be developed in a lab like DXM which is a cough and cold medicine that can be sold over-the-counter at drug stores, ketamine which is used as an anesthetic of both humans and animals, and PCP that was once used as an anesthetic for surgery. PCP is no longer used in medicine because of its hallucinogenic side effects.

                Warning Signs and Symptoms of Hallucinogen Abuse

  • Sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dry mouth
  • Tremor
  • Numbness
  • Hallucinations
  • Panic
  • Psychosis
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Flushed skin
  • Increased body temperature
  • Euphoria
  • Amnesia
  • Seizures


Heroin: Heroin is an opioid made from the natural substance morphine that comes from opium poppy plants that grow in Southeast and Southwest Asia, Mexico and Colombia. Heroin can come in different forms like a brown or white powder or a sticky black substance that is called black tar heroin. People can take heroin a few different ways, like injecting, sniffing, snorting or smoking. Sometimes people use heroin to “speedball,” meaning they mix it with crack cocaine for a quicker, more intense effect. Other street names for heroin are big H, horse, hell dust and smack.

                Warning Signs and Symptoms of Heroin Abuse

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Itching sensations
  • Dry mouth
  • Drowsiness
  • Foggy mental state
  • Slowed breathing
  • Slowed heartrate
  • Alternating between various states of awake and asleep
  • Needle marks on forearms
  • Heart problems
  • Liver and kidney disease
  • Collapsed veins


Methamphetamine: Methamphetamine, commonly known as meth, is a stimulant that increase the neurostimulator dopamine that is responsible for controlling body movement, motivation and feelings of pleasure.  Meth can come in the form of a bitter-tasting, white powder or pill that has similar to amphetamine, the drugs that treat attention-deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD). It may also look like a shiny bluish-white rock or fragments of glass known as crystal meth. Other common street names for methamphetamine are chalk, crank, crystal, ice and speed. When the drug is in its powder form, it may be smoked or snorted. People may also mix it with water and inject it into their veins. When in the pill form it may be swallowed of crushed and snorted.

                Warning Signs and Symptoms of Methamphetamine Abuse

  • Increased energy and mania
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased body temperature
  • Sweating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Paranoia
  • Tremors
  • Obsessive focus/ repeating activities
  • Stroke
  • Sores on skin (from injections)
  • Liver, lung and kidney damage,
  • Cardiovascular disease


Marijuana: Marijuana is the most commonly abused drug across America. Although the substance is still widely considered illegal among the 50 states, some states like California have legalized. This drug is made of the leaves, flowers and extracts of the cannabis sativa plant. It is widely grown around the world and is the only recreationally used drug in the United States. The intensity of the high is dependent on the level of THC, the active drug in the cannabis sativa plant, is ingested.

                Warning Signs and Symptoms of Marijuana Abuse

  • Euphoria
  • Relaxation
  • Drowsiness
  • Altered sense of time
  • Impaired memory
  • Slowed reflexes
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Increased appetite
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased heart rate
  • Paranoia

Consequences of Drug Use and Abuse

HIV, Hepatitis and Other Infectious Diseases: When a person is abusing drugs, they are more susceptible to engage in risky behaviors like unsafe sex or sharing needles, resulting in the transfer of blood and the diseases that come with it. This transfer of bodily fluids along with the general weakening of the immune system from the declined health of drug use makes those who abuse drugs more susceptible to HIV, Hepatitis or other related diseases.  

Kidney Damage: Drug abuse, specifically heroin, inhalants, steroids, hallucinogens and synthetic cannabinoids, can directly and indirectly led to kidney damage or failure. Dehydration, drastic body temperature increases, and muscle breakdown are all symptoms or drug abuse that are harmful to the kidneys. The amount of damage that is done is dependent on the individual’s prior health and the severity of the drug use.

Liver Damage: Liver damage may occur when the patient abuses drugs like inhalants, steroids and heroin at large quantities. If harmful substances are entering the body faster then the liver can extract the toxins from the body, it will lead to liver damage or maybe even liver failure.

Neurological Effects: Many people that repeatedly abuse drugs are seeking the euphoric effect that is produced by the overstimulation of the neurotransmitter dopamine that drugs create. Although this euphoric feeling may be enjoyable, there are also underlying neurological effects the patient could experience due to constant and severe exposure. Some of the damages that could occur are seizures, stroke and toxic effects on brain cells and could have lasting effects on a person’s life even after drug abuse has ended. One of the most common neurological consequences or drug use is addiction. This occurs when drug use stimulates dopamine and other brain circuits that control pleasure and reward instincts, impulse control and decision making. When a person receives a positive feeling as a result of drug use, the brain becomes programmed to associate the action of taking drugs with the euphoric feeling they yield.

Prenatal Effects: When a woman abuses drugs during her pregnancy, they are shown to have negative effects on both the mother and the baby. She may experience a miscarriage or have a premature birth and the child may have a low birth weight or have various cognitive and behavioral problems for the remainder of their life. The child may also be born with neonatal abstinence syndrome in which they are born addicted to the drug that was regularly used by the mother. This means that upon birth, the infant will experience withdraw symptoms and require extra monitoring. This could also cause other health issues in the child either during birth or in the years to follow. The drugs that have the most severe negative effects on the mother and child during pregnancy when abused regularly are cocaine, heroin, inhalants, marijuana, MDMA, methamphetamine, nicotine and prescription drugs.

Suicide: Those who are abusing drugs have a higher probability to commit suicide due to factors like increased mental health issues and feeling hopeless in the midst of addiction.

Financial Problems: People who are experiencing addiction often face financial issues. This could be because they are using their available income to feed the addiction, which can be extremely expensive. This also could occur if a person loses their job due to their inability to follow through with commitments. One of the signs of drug abuse is a change in priorities, so when a person’s life begins to revolve around drugs or alcohol they may perform poorly at work or might even quit their job or get fired all together.

Relationship Problems: When drugs become the priority in someone’s life, important and valuable relationships may be compromised. People who are typically of good character and honest may start engaging in suspicious behavior such as criminal activity or dishonesty. They may be facing financial troubles that lead them to resort to stealing to feed their addiction, and often times they take money from the people they are closest to or live with because they know where to find the money. The addict may also begin to put new friends who share the same substance abuse habit as they do over previously established relationships.

Legal Problems: Most substances that people become addicted to are illegal and possession of the drug can lead to criminal charges. Even substances that are legal, like alcohol and marijuana, can lead to bad choices like impaired driving, burglary or other criminal activity. People who face financial trouble due to their addiction my struggle with any legal fees held against them, which could lead to more legal problems if they are not paid.

What is Addiction?

An addiction is a reoccurring, uncontrollable action or reliance on a substance due to the psychological component that is attached to the action or substance. A person that is suffering from an addiction does not have the capability to stop feeding the addiction on their own, even if they desperately want to and could have harmful consequences if not appropriately treated. There are two main types of addiction; substance dependence and behavioral addiction. Substance dependence is the type of addiction those who rely on drugs or alcohol experience because they feel they are reliant on a substance to complete their daily life.

An addiction is much different than a habit, but a habit can quickly turn into an addiction. A habit is a conscious choice that a person makes to regularly engage in a certain activity. A person who has a habit of doing anything, whether it be substance related or not, has control over what they are doing and are able to stop the habit whenever they want. In an addiction, the person is unable to stop using the substance or engaging in the activity even if they feel compelled to. This is when outside treatment might be necessary.

Reason for Addiction?

Addiction is a disease that takes over a person’s entire life and effects both them and the ones that they love. People that have a substance abuse use the drug to alter their state of mind in a way that gives them a euphoric high. These feelings of euphoria lead the person to come back to repeatedly come back to the drug, which is how an addiction starts.

Drugs and alcohol have a large effect on three major parts of the brain; the brainstem, cerebral cortex and the limbic system. The brainstem is responsible for controlling basic bodily functions like breathing, blinking and creating messages in the brain to move other parts of the body. When a person is under the influence of any kind of substance, their basic bodily functions do not work as simply and smoothly as they should, which can be dangerous to their health. The cerebral cortex is responsible for the executive functions of the brain, like decision making and processing sensory information. This explains why when a person is under the influence of a substance, they are unable to think clearly and often make poor decisions they never would make if they were sober.

The limbic system is the part of the brain that is affected that leads to addiction most. The main responsibilities of the limbic system are to control the mind and body’s experience pleasure and understand and experience motivation towards activities necessary for survival. Ut us also responsible for the brain’s reward sensors. When a person is under the influence and have a positive or euphoric feeling, the limbic system remembers that substance is responsible for those feelings, which are usually exaggerated due to the effects of the drugs. The brain wants more of those euphoric feelings so the person needs to use the substance again to experience the high, leading to an addiction.

People who suffer from addiction have some shared general characteristics that are prevalent regardless of the substance being abused.

Negative feelings: Some people struggling with addiction may be dealing with uncomfortable feelings like guilt, loneliness or depression for any number of reasons in their lives that lead them to turn to drugs. They use the substance as an escape from these negative feelings because it brings on a euphoric feeling that could feel like happiness or another positive emotion they are not experiencing in their sober lives. They may feel that substance abuse is the most effective or only way to overcome these negative feelings, therefore they develop an addiction.

Obsession with using: People who are struggling with addiction and substance abuse have the substance on their mind constantly. They experience intense cravings for the drug and when they are not using it, they are thinking about the next time they will be able to use it, regardless of where they are or what they are doing. People who are obsessed with using do not have the ability to quiet these intense thoughts and cravings and have to feed into them by using more.

Temporary satisfaction: Despite all of their negative consequences, people that are addicted to drugs or alcohol rely on the drug to receive a temporary euphoric feeling or feeling of satisfaction. This satisfaction is derived from their ability to meet their immediate needs. They become conditioned to associate the use of the drug to these feelings of fulfillment and continue to use more in order to feel more satisfaction.

Loss of control: When people are struggling with an addiction, they feel like they are unable to stop using on their own and that they have no control over their behaviors. This idea that they have no control over their addiction just feeds it more, because the brain is telling the body that it cannot function without receiving the drug.


There are so many factors that could result in a person developing an addiction and often times it is difficult to what the exact cause is for each individual. One common factor that determines addiction is the genes that a person inherits from their parents. These genes determine a person’s physical and behavioral traits, as well as predisposed medical conditions. If a person has a relative that struggles with an addiction, they have a greater chance of also developing the same addiction. Some substance are more likely to be inherited than others through genetics. A person that has a relative with a cocaine addiction has a 72% chance of also developing an addiction to cocaine. Someone related to an opiate used has a 70% chance of becoming addicted to opioids themselves. A person with a relative that is struggling with an alcohol addiction has a 55% chance of also developing that addiction. Relatives of someone with a marijuana addiction have a 41% chance of developing the same addiction and a person who is related to someone struggling with a hallucinogenic addiction has a 39% chance of inheriting that same addiction. As generations pass, the gene weakens, and lower generations have a less likely chance to develop an addiction that existed in earlier generations, but anyone is still susceptible.

Along with genetic factors, there are also many environmental factors that have a significant impact on a person’s likelihood of developing a substance abuse problem. Environmental factors are most effective on children and adolescents but can still affect adults.

                Peer pressure: Adolescents will go to great lengths to fit in with their peers, including drugs. If their friends are trying it, the adolescent might want to appear “cool” even if they know that they are making a poor choice. The influence of others, especially people that a person wants to impress, can quickly and lead to a life of substance abuse.

                Poor parental supervision: If a child or adolescent do not receive much discipline or structure in their home lives have a higher chance of getting involved with drugs and alcohol. When they are not being watched appropriately it makes it easier for them to obtain drugs. Since they are rarely or never disciplined, they are less likely to understand that actions have consequences and are more likely to try these substances that can easily lead to an addiction.

                Parents with a history of drug use: If a child grows up around addiction or other illegal substances, the have a higher likelihood of getting involved in the same type of lifestyle. If growing up around substance abuse was normal for a child and that is all they know, they will probably follow that same path because that is what their parent always did. Children are very impressionable and are easily influenced by a parent who is modeling bad behavior and that could lead them to a substance abuse problem.

                Living in a poor community: It is statistically proven that people who live in poverty-stricken neighborhoods are more likely to develop an addiction. There are many possible explanations for this, such using drugs or alcohol to cope with the stress of being financially unstable. People living in poor communities may also experience hopelessness and become convinced that the will never be able to change their situation because of their lack of opportunities which could also lead them to turn to drugs or alcohol.

                Trauma: Trauma is another serious factor that can lead to a person developing an addiction. When someone experiences a trauma, especially as a child, they experience complicated physical and emotional wounds that they often try to ease with drugs or alcohol. It is estimated that 60% to 80% of people that are suffering from PTSD also suffer from substance abuse issues. While they may believe that drugs or alcohol may mask the pain and emotions they are experiencing, it really makes the symptoms worse and only creates more problems. Some examples of a trauma can include abuse, physical or emotional neglect, witnessing violence, having a family member in jail, having a family member with a substance abuse addiction or experiencing parents going through a divorce.

                Mental illness: Another likely cause of people developing a substance abuse problem is mental health conditions. When people are struggling with a mental illness like anxiety, depression, attention-deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), antisocial personality disorder or a psychotic disorder, they may attempt to mask the symptoms with drugs or alcohol like those with PTSD do. Drugs and alcohol often times have similar symptoms to mental illnesses so rather than easing the symptoms, the substance makes it worse. Worsened symptoms usually causes the person to use more of the substance in an attempt to hide the symptoms, and this commonly leads to an addiction.

Drug and Alcohol Treatment Services  in Sacramento

Approximately 10% of the state of California’s population suffers from a substance abuse problem and faces the negative consequences of addiction. The most popular drugs across the state are heroin, prescription painkillers and methamphetamine; three of the most addictive substances that are commonly abused.

Heroin abuse is a big problem both in Sacramento and in the nation. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, heroin use had increased 63% from 2002 to 2013 and it is estimated that 517,000 people used heroin in the year 2013 alone. Heroin overdose has stayed relatively stable in the past few years, but law enforcement and addiction treatment centers are still working to lower the numbers.

Prescription drug abuse has been named the number one cause of death in the United States in 2014, and the Sacramento has not been immune to this rising problem. Prescription pain killers are easy to obtain since they are often prescribed by doctors to ease pain after an injury or surgery. These painkillers are highly addictive and once people start taking them, they often struggle to stop.

Luckily for people struggling with substance abuse, there are many different treatment centers in Sacramento and the surrounding areas. Treatment options include inpatient residential programs, partial hospitalization programs, intensive outpatient programs, and outpatient programs.

While some programs may follow their own programs, the majority of them follow the 12-step program. This program was developed by the Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous organization as a uniform way to treat addiction. This religious-based method operates on the idea that when a person is struggling with addiction they can hand their struggle over to a higher power. Once they hand their addiction over to their higher power, they are able to begin the 12 steps towards recovery and work with others who share their experience in addiction.

  1. The person admits that they have now power over their addiction.
  2. The person believes that the higher power that they believe in is able to help them.
  3. The person decides to giver their control to their higher power.
  4. The person takes a personal inventory and evaluates their weaknesses that have been amplified by their addiction.
  5. The person admits to them self, their higher power and one other person that they have done wrong in the past
  6. The person admits that they are ready to have the higher power enter their life and correct any character flaws that they have.
  7. The person asks the higher power to remove those character flows from their life.
  8. The person makes a list of all the hurt they caused others and accepts that they are willing to make amends for the ways they hurt them.
  9. The person has the courage to contact the people they hurt in the past if it is appropriate.
  10. The person continues to take personal inventory and is able to admit when they are wrong in the moment.
  11. The person continues to connect with their higher power through prayer and meditation and continues to seek good and enlightenment.
  12. The person carries the message of the 12 steps with them and shares them with others who could benefit from them.

Through the 12 steps, recovering addicts are encouraged to accept their mistakes and responsibility for them, gain self-confidence and awareness of themselves and gain the ability to recognize and change negative behaviors as they are happening. This program has been proven to be extremely effective and is used in many treatment centers across Sacramento.

The Family and Addiction

When one person struggles with an addiction, the entire family feels both the short and long-term effects in various ways. The structure of the family itself has an impact on the individuals of the household. For example, if the addict is the head of a single-family household, they may not be able to keep up with their financial, work and or childcare responsibilities. This can lead to the loss of important things like a job or house.

In each family, different people play different roles in the household when an addict is present. Sometimes the family member does not even know that they’ve taken on this role or the effects, positive or negative, it may have on the addict or other members of the family.

The addict in the family may painfully aware of the problems they are causing for themselves and their families. This leads them to experience negative feelings like shame or guilt which leads them to drink more. Their inability to stop abusing their substance despite their acknowledgement of the pain they are causing their family can cause anger and resentment among the other family members.

The enabler is a role where the person in the family constantly makes excuses for the addict’s behaviors or justifies their actions. Typically, this role is filled by a non-addicted adult who takes o the responsibilities of the addict to make their addiction seem like less of a problem even though these responsibilities may be a huge burden. This person is extremely in denial about the addict’s addiction and may try to make it appear less severe or completely nonexistent. The addict both directly and indirectly makes the addict’s substance abuse problem easier to maintain.

The role of the hero is usually assumed by an older child or an adult who takes it upon themselves to take on the role of the parent in the household. They typically appoint themselves to handle responsibilities that are above their developmental stage to try to maintain order. The person in this role is commonly an overachiever and perfectionist, qualities that will make maintaining the role of the hero more difficult as responsibilities get harder for them to manage.

The scapegoat in the family is the member, typically a child, who behaves badly and gets in trouble. This defiant behavior is directly reflective of an unstable home and a chaotic upbringing. They misbehave and get in trouble both at school and at home and commonly face legal troubles once they reach adulthood.

The role of the mascot is reserved for the individual in the family who seeks to bring a moment of peace or happiness in an otherwise unstable home. They use their humor as a coping mechanism to bring lightheartedness and a short sense of relief while they are experiencing otherwise stressful and serious problems. The mascot will maintain their role as long as there are still problems and chaos among the family and will continue to use their humor to deal with problems within the family and in the home.

Often times one member of the family takes on the role of the lost child who is isolated from the rest of the family and is not developed socially. The usually struggle with communication and many real-life situations because they are often “off in their own world” playing pretend. This imagined fantasy land is their way to protect themselves from their unstable home environment that they might not be able to understand.

When a person establishes one of these family roles as a child, the often times become part of their personality and behaviors as an adult. If the child takes on the roles and responsibilities of the parent, it may be more difficult to repair relationships because the child may hold resentment over missing out on their childhood.

The Process of Treatment Services  in Sacramento


               The intervention process is extremely difficult for both the addict and their loved ones. Most times, people who struggle with an addiction deny that they have a problem or feel like they have it “under control” and do not need to seek help. This is where the individual’s friends and family step in to express their concerns and encourage them to seek treatment. Interventions can be informal like a serious, heartfelt conversation between the addict and the people they love, or it can be more structured and organized.

                Before confronting the person, who is struggling with the addiction, it is important for the people involved in the intervention to establish a plan. This could include meeting with a qualified medical professional or counselor to understand the best approaches to take when addressing their loved one’s addiction. It is also important for the group to come up with a general idea of what they hope to accomplish during the intervention. Because interventions are usually emotionally charged, anger and resentment can quickly take over. Having a plan in place is a good way of preventing this from happening.

                It is also important to do research and gather information about the addiction their loved one is facing. The more information and better understanding the group has on the addiction, the more effective the intervention will be. It may also be useful to research different treatment options and even have a few programs picked out to present to the person. This shows the addict that treatment is available to them and might more easily convince them to accept the help they need and deserve.

                Before the intervention takes place, it is important for the group to practice what they are going to say. In this situation, it is better to state facts and concerns than to go in depth in raw emotions. It is also important to focus on the possible solutions with the addict and show them that they are invested in helping during the treatment process. Sometimes, people choose to write letters and read them directly to the person struggling with addiction to make sure that they clearly say everything they wanted to get across without getting off track or overly emotional to the point where the message is missed.

                The intervention will be difficult for everybody involved, so it may be helpful for a medical professional with no connection to the individual to be present. This way, the professional can ensure that the meeting stays on track and they reach their end goal of encouraging their loved one to at least consider receiving treatment. They may also help facilitate the structure of the meeting and ensure that everybody gets the chance to say what they want to say and that the addict gets all of their questions appropriately answered.

Intake Process

                Once a person struggling with addiction makes the decision that they are ready to begin treatment and chooses a facility, they begin the intake process. This step is typically a few hours long and this is where the professionals get the patient’s medical history, past drug use information and any past treatments they may have received. This step is very important in the treatment process because it helps to provide the facility with the important information about the patient that is needed to pick an appropriate treatment plan.

                The process usually begins by speaking to an assessment specialist upon arrival. They may ask the patient general questions about their health and substance abuse and other identifying information like their name and age. This helps the specialist to begin to determine which course of treatment will be most effective for the patient.

                Next, the patient will meet with members of their treatment team and conduct some interviews. They may meet with a clinician, psychiatrist or counselor that will be helping them in their treatment journey. Some interviews are formal and structured where the clinician has a list of questions they ask the patient and record their responses. Other interviews are informal and feel more like a conversation between the patient and clinician. These are beneficial because the patient has more freedom of what they want to talk about and may reveal more about themselves in this setting as they feel more comfortable. Patients may also be asked to fill out some paperwork that asks for important detailed health and demographic information.

                Patients will have to undergo a medical assessment to establish if the treatment will be safe for them. This is also a way for the doctor to determine if they have any other health problems that may or may not have been caused by the substance abuse. Often time co-occurring physical issues like organ problems are a result of a longstanding substance abuse problem. The patient will also undergo a mental health assessment to look for any co-occurring issues like anxiety or depression. Often times mental health issues go along with substance abuse issues, so it is important that both are appropriately treated.

                After the physical and mental assessments take place, the patient will learn more information about their program and meet with any other members of their treatment team they may not have met. The treatment team will work alongside the patient to create goals they hope to achieve while in treatment and an effective treatment plan.

Medical Detox

                Before the patient begins their treatment program, they will have to go through a medical detox to rid the body of the harmful substances they are receiving treatment for. Medical detox is a safe way to remove the addictive substance from the body without being harmful to the patient’s health. Detox takes place in a private, medical facility with trained doctors and nurses on staff to monitor the patient while they go through this process.

                If not conducted correctly, detox can be harmful to a patient, so it is important that they do not try to undergo detox on their own. The best place to do it is in a medical setting or hospital, one of which is usually part of the treatment program at the facility that they are in. Detox is different for everybody and the level of severity the patient will experience symptoms is dependent on their specific substance habits. Some factors include the length of time of the substance abuse, the type of substance abused, the amount taken in each dose, family history and physical and mental health conditions. On average detox usually last between 3-10 days but could last longer depending one which factors the patient has.

                Withdraw has many different physical and mental effects on the patient. Even though everybody has a unique experience when it comes to medical detox, some symptoms and side effects appear commonly across the board. Physical symptoms of withdraw could include nausea, vomiting, congestion, runny nose chattering teeth or slurred speech. Psychological side effects can include depression, hallucinations, confusion, irritability or severe anxiety. There are also other, more serious side effects that may occur like strokes, seizures or heart attacks if the substance abuse has a long history of being severe. This is why it is extremely important to undergo medical detox under the care of a professional.

                One of the most effective forms of medical detox is called Intravenous (IV) therapy. IV therapy administers medications to help the patient manage the symptoms of drug withdraw and replace the toxic substances in their body and blood with medically safe alternatives. The patient’s vitals are monitored during the entire process to ensure their health and safety, and doctors are available during the entire process. IV therapy is proven to work quickly and the quality of health that a patient experiences is much higher than other, less effective forms of detox.

                Aside from IV therapy, there are other forms of medical detox that a facility may feel are more appropriate for the individual patient. One of these methods is by using the drug Methadone to phase a person with prolonged drug use off of the substance. This method is often chosen because it replaces the addictive substance that the patient’s body is used to receiving on a regular basis with Methadone, which is a controlled substance that s not harmful to the body. Methadone gives the body the same effect as the addictive substance but is not nearly as harmful. The patient is then slowly weaned off of the Methadone during the course of their treatment, which makes managing withdraw symptoms much easier because they are not as severe. Methadone is most commonly used to detox opiates like heroin because they have a similar effect on the mind and body.

Various Levels of Care

Learn more about Inpatient vs. Outpatient by clicking HERE.

Inpatient Treatment

                Inpatient treatment facilities are typically the next step in the treatment process following medical detox. In these types of treatment centers, patients live at the facility in a therapeutic community among others who are seeking sobriety. These residential centers provide 24-hour care in a calming, non-hospital setting. Patients my live alone or have one or more roommates, but generally their residencies are very private and separated by gender. Patients in inpatient centers are required to attend regular individual and group counseling sessions. In these sessions, patients are working to develop positive coping methods and life skills that will help them once they are reintroduced to society so that they do not return to substance abuse. Many programs also use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to “retrain” the brain so they do not feel the need to return to their substance of choice as they had previously.

                In long-term residential treatment programs, patients have a predetermined program length that is typically between 6 months and a year. Along with individual and group counseling, patients also work on developing socially, personal accountability, and how to recognize and redirect destructive behaviors. They also provide more in-depth life skills training which can include educational training, employment training and legal or financial help. Short term residential treatment programs offer the same types of programs as long term residential treatment centers, just in a much shorter time frame. These programs typically last 3 to 6 weeks and focus mostly on using CBT in individual and group sessions. Short term residential treatment programs are followed by engaged outpatient programs or aftercare programs to keep the patient accountable and rude the risk of the patient abusing any substance again.

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

                In partial hospitalization programs, patients attend treatment as if it were a full-time job. They are able to “commute” to their treatment facility and return home once their program is over for the day. These programs can run from 8 weeks to 12 months depending on the intensity of the program and the patients’ needs. Patients typically spend 5 days per week at a PHP for about 5-6 hours a day. These meetings typically take place during the day but some may also offer weekend or evening meetings to better accommodate patient’s schedules and needs.    

                PHP programs are very structured and can act as a “step down” from a residential treatment program or a “step up” from outpatient treatment for those who require extra assistance. PHP programs use daily individual and group therapy sessions to help patients work through their feelings of addiction and address any underlying issues that may have led the individual to substance abuse. PHP programs may also offer like skills training and legal or financial help, but the programs do not focus as much on them as residential treatment programs do. Patients do receive the same types of medical and psychological evaluations as they would in a residential treatment center and are usually offered follow-up care. 

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

                In an intensive outpatient program, patients attend treatment roughly 10-12 hours a week over the course of 3 or 4 evenings, depending on the program. This method of treatment is beneficial because it allows the patients to participate in their daily lives, like attending work or school, but they still receive a significant amount of treatment in the evenings. Programs can last anywhere from 8 weeks to 6 months and use group and individual therapy to learn coping mechanism and treat the underlying causes of addiction rather than relying on detox. Patients who take part in IOP program either went through medical detox before entering the program or had a mild substance abuse that did not require medical detox o begin treatment.

Outpatient Treatment

                Outpatient treatment programs are the least intensive treatment program available. It can act as a transitional step down from a more intense treatment program or act as a first step for patients with mild substance abuse problem that do not require medical detox.

                Outpatient programs usually meet once or twice a week with a counselor or in a group at an allotted time. These programs also focus on CBT to treat underlying mental health issues and help the patient to develop positive coping methods, but on a much smaller scale than other treatment programs. Some benefits of outpatient therapy is that it is much more affordable than inpatient programs and flexible since patients are able to schedule their own appointments that only occupy an hour or two of their time. This also makes it easier for families to be involved in the treatment process since people typically participate in outpatient programs close to their homes, unlike other residential treatment programs where they may travel.

Sober Living

                Following inpatient treatment, the next step for some patients may be a sober living home. Also known as a halfway house, these serve as a transition from a residential treatment center to successful independent living. Since adjusting back to daily life can be difficult, especially if the patient had been receiving treatment for an extended period of time, so a patient can experience some of the freedom that they would living on their combined with some of the structure they experienced in their inpatient facility.

                Residents who are staying in a sober living facility are not required to stay at the home for the entire day and have the freedom to leave as they wish. This is beneficial to the residents because they can start easing into the responsibilities in their lives rather than being forced to assume them all at once. During this time residents are encouraged to find a job and start looking for future housing if they do not have a home to return to. They are also encouraged to make amends with any friends of family members who have been hurt due to the individual’s substance abuse.

                While staying in the sober living home, residents do have some rules that they have to adhere to in order to remain living in the facility. Residents are not allowed to be out all night and must return home by a certain curfew. This is to help them from engaging in risky behavior with past friends who are associated with the individual’s substance abuse so that they can stay sober. Another requirement to stay in the sober living facility is that the residents have to remain sober. They have to comply to random drug test during their time staying there to ensure their honesty. They also must attend group meetings scheduled by their counselor and follow any other rules that might be unique to their facility.

What is Aftercare?

                It is important for a recovering addict to remain committed to their sobriety after they complete their treatment program and aftercare is an effective way to remain accountable. An aftercare program can be any form of follow-up care as long as it is ongoing and consistent. The main purpose of an aftercare program is to learn to avoid situations that might be triggering to their own treatment and remain sober in their lives.

                Sometimes, ongoing outpatient treatment like individual counseling or group meetings like Alcoholics Anonymous. In these situations, aftercare treatment occurs weekly and patients are able to work on their coping skills and talk through issues in their treatment that may come up following treatment.

                To develop an effective aftercare plan, it is important of the individual to work closely with a professional. One of the most important aspects to include in an aftercare plan is a relapse prevention strategy for when they feel tempted to return to the substance they were previously abusing. This could include a list of the 12 steps, contact information of a close friend or relative they can call for support and a list of alternative activities the person can take part in rather than turning to drugs. They also need to locate an addiction support group to regularly attend following their outpatient treatment. If the individual does not have a safe, controlled living environment to return to following treatment the individual and the professional then work together to find a family member, friend or sober living facility where they can stay. It is also recommend that an aftercare programs requires regular drug testing so that the recovering addict has to remain accountable to somebody for their own sobriety.

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