Tuesday, July 23, 2019

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West Covina, California Substance Abuse and Treatment

West Covina is a small city in Los Angeles County, about 20 miles outside of Los Angeles’ center. A relatively affluent community, West Covina does experience some problems with substance abuse, drug trafficking, and addiction. Fortunately, there are many treatment and rehabilitation options for residents of West Covina. This article provides an overview of factors impacting substance abuse in West Covina, as well as treatment options. An overview of city demographic characteristics is provided first, followed by crime rates, substances most frequently used, and risk factors. Treatment and rehabilitation options are then considered and the typical road to recovery is outlined to provide an example of what one can expect when beginning the rehabilitative process.

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

West Covina, CA is home to just over 108,000 residents, as of the most recent census. The city has generally experienced growth and economic viability, largely due to its proximity to Los Angeles and also because of its access to many other large urban regions. However, growth has declined recently and the city has encountered increasing problems with crime and substance abuse. About 43 percent of residents identify as Caucasian, 53 percent are Hispanic, five percent are African American, and more than 20 percent identify as being multiracial. The remainder are primarily Native American, Asian, and Pacific Islander. About one in four individuals in West Covina is between the ages of 25 and 44, which is associated with the highest rates of drug related crimes and substance abuse. The median household income is nearly $70,000, representing a three percent increase from 2015 and making West Covina one of the more affluent small cities in the United States. The per capita income is about $25,000, largely due to the high number of non-earning youth. About 10 percent of residents live below the federal poverty line of $15,000 annually, which is about three percent less than the national average. The unemployment rate in West Covina is about five percent, which is about one percent higher than the national average. However, there are many sources of employment in West Covina and the surrounding area, and the city has experienced consistent economic growth and development since its founding in the 1920s. Nevertheless, West Covina does experience some problems with crime and substance abuse. These problems are discussed in more detail in the following sub-section.

Crime Rates and Substance Usage

West Covina has a crime index of 20, making it safer than approximately 20 percent of cities in the United States. The biggest crime related problems in the city are related to property damage and theft, representing about 26 of the 29 crimes that occur per 1,000 residents. The remainder are violent crimes like murder and assault. The crime rate in West Covina is lower than that of the remainder of the state of California. The chance of being a victim of a violent crime in West Covina is about one in 395, while this rate is one in 225 for the remainder of California. There are not known to be particularly significant problems associated with alcohol or substance abuse that set West Covina apart from surrounding communities or the broader state of California. However, many drug trafficking rings have access to the city and the community is exposed to problems associated with illicit drug distribution due to its close proximity to nearby Los Angeles and other large urban areas.

Substance of Choice

While many communities in the United States have experienced growing rates of opiate and heroin addiction, West Covina still appears to struggle with methamphetamine, cocaine, and illegal marijuana on its streets. Many attribute West Covina’s methamphetamine and cocaine problems to the close proximity to the Mexican border, where these substances are relatively easily brought in and immediately distributed on the streets of southern California. Two men were recently arrested by West Covina police because of their involvement in a high profile Mexican drug distribution ring, where more than 120 pounds of methamphetamine and 18 pounds of cocaine were discovered. Despite recent legalization of recreational marijuana in the state of California, West Covina also still faces challenges with illicit or unlicensed marijuana sales.

Risk Factors and Signs of Addiction

Risk factors and signs of addiction to methamphetamine and cocaine vary substantially by individual, although some consistent markers can be used to recognize usage of these substances. 

Risk factors for addiction include a genetic history of substance abuse, high levels of environmental or social stress, access or proximity to drug distribution locations, and personality factors like risk taking and sensation seeking. 

Signs of cocaine addiction include agitation or excitability, weight loss, pupil dilation, risk taking, and mood swings. Sudden behavioral chances of any kind can also be indicators of cocaine abuse or addiction. 

Signs and symptoms of methamphetamine abuse and addiction include increased physical activity, pupil dilation, sleep disruption, sweating, paranoia and emotional instability, behavioral unpredictability, repetitive behaviors, headaches, jaw clenching, and nausea. 

Many of the signs and symptoms of addiction and abuse are related to behavioral changes that are only recognizable to close friends and relatives. Therefore, maintaining close contact with those believed to be using is important to recognize these signs and to seek help as soon as possible.

Treatment and Rehabilitation Options

When signs and symptoms of drug abuse are detected, intervention and professional help should be sought immediately so as to prevent long-term health consequences like heart failure, seizures, respiratory dysfunction, and psychological disorders like anxiety and depression. Fortunately, there are many treatment and rehabilitation options for residents of West Covina how struggle with drug abuse. Dozens of treatment and rehabilitation facilities exist within West Covina and in surrounding Los Angeles county, which features hundreds of the world’s best universities and hospitals. Additionally, federally or privately funded rehabilitation options exist for individuals from low socioeconomic backgrounds to help combat drug addiction and provide a viable recovery option for those without insurance. Specialized centers exist for cocaine and methamphetamine abuse, as well as alcohol, marijuana, opiates, and benzodiazepines. Each of these addictions requires a slightly different treatment modality and selecting a specialized clinic is critical to facilitating long-term relapse prevention and eliminating chemical dependency.

While each of these substances requires a differing mode of treatment, the general path to recovery is fairly consistent in each type of rehabilitation and treatment facility. Specifically, the road to recovery typically follows a series of sequential steps, consisting of: assessment, pre-intake, intake, detox, inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, aftercare, and sober living. Each of these stages is discussed in more detail below.

                Assessment

The road to recovery begins with an assessment, which typically consists of an in-depth personal interview and screening for substance abuse and psychological disorders. During the assessment process, a specialist will collect pertinent information relating to medical history, psychological symptoms, and substance abuse behaviors that will eventually be used to diagnose a substance abuse disorder, make an appropriate and evidence based referral, and lead to the selection of a relevant treatment facility.

                Pre-intake

Once a referral has been made, a pre-intake will occur at the selected treatment facility. This process is designed to better inform the more elaborate intake. During the pre-intake, basic demographic information will be collected, as well as acute symptoms of substance abuse that will help guide the more extensive intake. An additional purpose of the pre-intake is to allow clients to ask questions and to help them prepare for the road to recovery at the treatment facility that has been selected.

                Intake

Following the pre-intake, the more in-depth intake is performed. This is carried out by an addictions specialist or medical health professional, and consists of a more extensive personal interview and complete medical and psychological history. The purpose of the intake is to collect information needed to design an individualized and needs based intervention that is specific to the client and her or his treatment needs. During the intake process, the provision of accurate and honest responses is essential for designing an appropriate program that will maximize the chances for success and long-term relapse prevention. Many demonstrate a tendency to respond to questions in socially desirable ways due to shame, embarrassment, or legal ramifications. Therefore, clients must be assured that information collected during the intake is confidential and protected by law.

                Detox

Detoxification may be needed in the case of cocaine or methamphetamine addiction. This process involves the safe and supervised administration of an alternative substance while the body rids itself of chemical toxins and sources of physical dependency. Withdrawals during this stage may be extremely psychologically and physically traumatic, and full residence in the treatment facility is needed to allow for close supervision and immediate psychological and social support.

                Inpatient treatment

Inpatient treatment is needed in more severe cases of addiction and typically lasts between one and six months. There are three different types of inpatient treatment, including residential treatment centers, partial hospitalization, and intensive outpatient care. The most appropriate treatment modality for each client is determined during the intake and is based on the severity of the addiction and potential for relapse. During inpatient treatment, close supervision of psychological and physical symptoms is needed to help prevent relapse and continue to support recovery. A combination of individual and group counselling is also provided to help provide the psychological tools and skills clients will need to manage their recovery during subsequent stages of treatment.

                Outpatient treatment

Following inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment is provided and can last up to several years after release from a treatment facility. The purpose of this stage of recovery is to extend the services provided in inpatient care to clients as they reenter the community and engage in activities like work and school. Individual and group counselling remain important components of outpatient care to help provide support when urges to use continue to arise. Many treatment facilities encourage the use of sponsors during outpatient care to provide a sense of accountability and responsibility for another client’s recovery. During this stage, emphasis is placed on psychological skill building, relapse prevention, and avoidance of environmental exposure to one’s substance of choice.

                Aftercare

Aftercare is another critical component in the road to recovery, and is frequently a lifelong process for individuals who are addicted to cocaine or methamphetamine. Aftercare allows for access to counselling and rehabilitative support services for clients after they have completed an outpatient program. While outpatient treatment may have a termination point, addiction does not and symptoms of drug addiction may continue to arise throughout the remainder of the client’s life. Aftercare serves as an extended continuation of treatment to help clients navigate the complex and frustrating symptoms of addiction. In some cases, aftercare programs allow periodic residence in a treatment facility to provide social support and to promote consistency in the long-term path to recovery. Aftercare enables access to licensed professionals who can ensure that long-term commitment to sobriety goals is achieved.

                Sober living

Sober living is a philosophy that is promoted throughout rehabilitation and is the ultimate goal of treatment. This concept is not a destination, but a constant journey that requires vigilance, personal commitment, and social support. In some cases, sober living homes exist that allow periodic visits to treatment facilities to help support continued recovery and to enable clients to stay on track with their rehabilitation goals. During this stage of treatment, emphasis is placed on psychological skills and coping, as well as replacing behaviors that contribute to substance abuse with healthier and more productive ones. 

Road to Recovery

The purpose of this article was to discuss substance abuse issues and treatment and rehabilitation options in West Covina, California. An overview of city demographic characteristics was provided first, along with crime rates, substance abuse problems, and risk factors and signs of addiction. Treatment and rehabilitation options were then considered, and the road to recovery was outlined. While West Covina is a relatively affluent community, there are some problems with cocaine and methamphetamine addictions and the community has a presence of drug distribution rings. Fortunately, there are also many world class inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation options to support varying client needs and support long-term relapse prevention and sober living.