Informative – Savannah GA
By Benhilda Chanetsa
Our lives can be turned upside down by addiction to drugs or alcohol. Suddenly we can’t manage our relationships and day-to-day affairs, including holding down a job, or staying in school. All attempts to clean up and dry up are in vain. Addiction is not confined to one group. Addicts range from the destitute to the pillars of society, and from children to seniors. Anyone is fair game.
Savannah Drug Crimes
Addiction is a growing problem in Savannah, GA, with its population of just over 200 000. According to statistics, about 52 000 of adults are heavy drinkers; and about 20 000 are said to use illicit drugs. Of the drug users, just over 3,000 use marijuana, about 2,500, heroin; about 1,800, crack cocaine; 650, non-heroin opiates; and 600, ordinary cocaine.
Numbers keep going up. From 2012 to 2014, there were 82 opioid overdoses in Chatham County alone. The National Institute on Drug Abuse defines Opioids as medicines that reduce intense pain. They include drugs with a morphine content, as well as Percocet and OxyContin. Abuse may occur when they are over-subscribed by a doctor and subsequently abused by the patient. If they become too expensive, they may be obtained on the streets. Heroin has been defined as a cheaper and more accessible alternative that leads to the same type of response. There seems to be a surge in teen use. Teens feel they can safely get a high with these drugs because they come from pharmacies. Some have been known to abuse supplies prescribed to their parents.
In 2016, each month, police were investigating about two drug overdose deaths in Savannah’s Chatham County, alone. So worrying were these figures that in early 2017, police appealed for interventionist measures from friends and relatives of drug abusers. While no one drug could be singled out for the overdose surge, it was noted that heroin, cocaine and prescription drugs featured highly.
How the Drug Trade Happens
The illegal drug trade often happens in Downtown Savannah, and on the Southside. Drug dealers even make house deliveries in the more prestigious suburbs of Savannah. Police say most of the cocaine available on the streets comes up from Miami by private or commercial vehicles that use the interstates. The drugs are often hidden among legal products, or inside secret compartments within the vehicles.
Drug-related burglaries and robberies are not unusual in Savannah, with rival drug dealers conducting home invasion robberies against each other. In 2000, coke offenders (55 percent) were the highest drug offenders in Georgia, generally. This surpassed the national average of 44 percent. Costs across program areas including health, justice and education took up about 10 percent of the state’s total expenditure. An additional problem has been loss of productivity.
It’s not so difficult to get treatment for substance abuse nowadays in Savannah and its neighborhood dwellings such as Riverside, and the Isle of Hope. An assortment of treatment facilities is available. You are taken through all the stages of addiction recovery and then to living in sobriety afterwards.
It can be quite daunting to choose the one treatment option that exactly fits your needs. Many have recovered successfully with the type of care that suited their needs, when they went the course and took part in awareness programs during aftercare. To make the best recovery, you need to clearly consider what is available.
During intake, lots of information is collated. A series of general and personal questions are asked to determine severity and the right kind of treatment. Medical history is required because detoxification is different for everyone. You don’t want something that doesn’t work for you. Blood and alcohol tests are also given. The information collected is then used to make a detailed package for you, the client, and to ascertain your progress from then on.
You might consider this option if you favor a cheaper sobriety route that allows you to balance treatment with your job or with school. It’s affordable and it’s flexible. Therapy sessions can be adjusted to fit in with your commitments. You can have sessions in the evening or at lunch. There are different forms of outpatient care, though. One option, the Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) does not require you to undergo detox. However, you can only enroll into this program when you’ve been clinically and medically passed for it.
Inpatient or Residential Treatment Centers (RTC)
If you have other complex issues, you might consider residential treatment which is more regulated and focused and allows for close monitoring. Perhaps you suffer from depression, anxiety and other mental disorders. Maybe you have other concurrent conditions such as heart disease and asthma. Or perhaps you’ve tried rehab but keep relapsing and can’t keep your addiction under control. There are various levels of inpatient treatment, too. Perhaps you would prefer the Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP). This allows you to be in hospital about 20 hours each week and never overnight.
Sober Living Homes or Halfway homes help you to transition to normal life. Some are mandated by the courts, but many are for those who do not feel that their home environments are safe or conducive to successful recovery. Close monitoring takes place to prevent relapse. Usually a 12-step program is involved. The problem is that many are not accredited and there is no government body to regulate them. So do thorough research first.
There are intense and less intense degrees for each option available. Specialty programs also exist for pregnant and post-pregnant women, for seniors and for children. In all options, group, individual, and family therapy sessions are normally conducted by trained, licensed professionals. Mental, psychiatric, and behavior assessment and treatment take place. The aims are typically—relapse prevention, detoxification, and dual diagnosis therapy. If you live in and around Savannah, then you’re in luck because this city, along with Atlanta, is regarded as the top detox city in Georgia.
But make sure that whatever treatment option you choose is as long, and effective as is needed to achieve the desired results. A relapse becomes all the more likely when treatment is quick-fix. Ask for an assessment so you get something that is tailor-made for you.
This is an excellent part of opiate treatment that Savannah offers to those who can’t effectively deal with withdrawal symptoms such as cravings and mood swings, either on their own or through abstinence focused treatments.
Methadone has been federally approved as therapy for harm reduction. We all know how harmful addiction can be to the body. A doctor will help you define the dose that suits you and you will be monitored each day to help you stay on track. A counselor will help you to define the psychological issues implicit in your addiction, and to address your fractured relationships.
Aftercare services are particularly important for avoiding relapse. The problem with addiction is that it is not curable. You need to commit to sobriety for the rest of your life, to avoid going back to your habit. Some good after care programs allow former inmates to return to speak to recovering clients about how they’ve managed to stay clean. Group therapy is still important. When researching aftercare programs in Savannah, make sure they’re accredited. Check with trusted accreditation bodies such as the Commission on the Accreditation of Rehabilitation (CARF) or the Council on Accreditation (COA). Be sure to ask about experience of staff and certification.
Research by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has found that many people shy away from treatment because they do not have health insurance. Consequently, less than 10 percent of adults actually seek treatment. However, for every financial situation, there’s a fitting treatment program in Savannah. Some organizations offer both paying and non-paying options.
Important Contact Information
How do you find these options? Most people don’t even know that they are actually there to assist people. The Savannah Men’s Center offers a free list of a multitude of non-profits and also faith-based organizations that assist in treatment and rehabilitation. FreeRehabCenters.com can help you find the solution that best fits your needs and your pocket. Useful information may also be found at UsDrugTrends.com; withdrawal.net/resources; addicted.org, and projectknow.com.
Fee Paying Options
Payment fees range from the expensive to the very cheap. Some fees are negotiable. Certain institutions require that clients have insurance and come with a recommendation from the local law enforcers or the SABHC (Substance Abuse Behavioral Health Collaborative).
Some firms offer a sliding scale of payment with clients paying the amount that fits their needs. This way, people with lower income may get help, too. Payment may also be offered through Medicaid and Medicare. Additionally, SAMHSA makes grants to rehab programs to assist those unable to pay for their own treatment, and for people with hearing impairment.
Faith Based Options
This option is ideal for those wanting to heal through a Christian perspective. Praying and bible reading is typical. Religious organizations offer it for free as a charity service to their community. The Savannah Mission Bible Center is a faith based program that offers inpatient alcohol and drug treatment for up to 10 months and charges no fees but is open to donations. Most free or low cost services are offered by the non-profits, however. As their name implies, they are not out to make a profit.
Drug Laws in Savannah, GA
Savannah like many other cities operates on the basis that prevention is better than cure.
Weed possession is totally illegal in Savannah and all other cities in Georgia save for Atlanta. Possessing less than an ounce incurs imprisonment and a fine of up to one year and $1,000 respectively. However, a first time drug offender may receive a lighter sentence such as probation of 6 months and community service of 18 hours. Possession of one or more ounces incurs imprisonment of 1 to 10 years. The same applies to other illegal drugs. Medical marijuana is legal everywhere in Georgia.
In late 2017, Atlanta decriminalized the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana. It’s still not legal to own marijuana. You just don’t go to jail if caught with very small amounts. Instead, you get a $75 fine.
State agencies oversee all facilities and there are specific rules pertaining to intake, assessment and entry rules, and every treatment program must have the relevant license. There are state guidelines they must observe with respect to treatment, discharge, aftercare and backup in case of emergencies. There are mandated guidelines as to who can be hired for a treatment center, the credentials and licenses needed.
Response to Opioid
The opioid surge has led to further legislation. The Prescription Drug Monitoring Program in Savannah is in the process of being expanded to stop potential drug victims from visiting multiple doctors to get huge stores of prescription drugs. It also seeks to expose the doctors that prescribe unusual amounts of the drugs. Other bills seek to deal with the fentanyl abuse.
Policemen, community leaders, and lawmakers have also been urging the speeding up of plans to legalize the sale of naloxone as a way of helping to defeat the opioid epidemic.
Police in Savannah-Chatham now carry a naloxone nasal spray called Narcan. This provides quick first aid relief in a potential overdose situation. This spray is meant to counteract the effects of the drug taken. Narcan is the main type of naloxone medication or overdose reversal medicine in use. It may also be injected.
The Savannah Harm Reduction Coalition, made up of community members is also pushing for the increased availability of naloxone. It’s working to get it to family members of drug users and is carrying out training sessions to ensure its correct usage. So in extreme situations, family members can quickly administer the drug while waiting for the police to arrive. This will help save life.
Also being mooted is the idea of a ‘drug profile’. Arrestees would undergo voluntary drug screening and fill in questionnaires anonymously. Police hope this measure will assist them in ascertaining the prevalence of the problem.