Wednesday, June 26, 2019

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SUBSTANCE ABUSE STATISTICS AND RECOVERY RESOURCES IN TIFTON, GEORGIA

INTRODUCTION

In the state of Georgia proper, drug and alcohol abuses statistically rank among the highest in the nation. Tifton, located in Tift County, maintains a population of just over 34,000, and yet on a percentage basis exceeds the majority of the state in substance abuse-related treatment center admissions.

Tifton, known popularly as The Friendly City, is centrally located along the main north-south Interstate 75, and is approximately 181 miles from Atlanta. Georgia State Route 125, U.S. Highway 41, U.S. Route 319, U.S. Highway 41, and U.S. Route 82 also pass through the city. The Tift County School District administers one pre-K center, four public elementary schools, two high schools, and three colleges. Included among the colleges is the University of Georgia’s Tifton campus. The city’s racial makeup is approximately 49.4% Caucasian, 36% Black, 11.4% Hispanic, 1.9% Asian, .01% Native American, and the remainder, according to the most recent census, as other races.

Tifton’s median income is under $35,000 per household, and just under $40,000 for a family with two working parents. In both aspects, Tifton lags far behind many cities of similar size within the United States. The city is known for its retail trade, construction, and manufacturing industries, and primarily its agricultural research. Winters are typically short, and summers long. The climate is mild, allowing for a particularly friendly environment for drug traffickers and DTOs.

Between 2013 and 2014, according to www.arrestrecords.com, the state of Georgia saw a 10.2% increase in drug-related deaths. From 2014 to 2017, the figure increased by approximately another 6%. On a national basis, according to the same site, between 2002 and 2013, death by overdose of both illicit and prescribed substances has collectively quadrupled, and continues to slightly increase year-to-year. The opioid epidemic is at an all-time high, in both Tifton and nationally, for both rich and poor, male and female.

The Department of Justice lists the most frequently abused opioids in the state as the following: codeine, fentanyl (Duragesic, Actiq), hydromorphone (Dilaudid), meperidine (Demerol), morphine (MS Contin), oxycodone (OxyContin), methadone (Dolophine), and hydrocodone combinations (Vicodin, Lortab, and Lorcet). According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, cocaine use has declined year-to-year from 2010 to 2015, before leveling off. From 2010 to 2017, however, the state saw a year-to-year marked increase of 25 to 34 year-olds seeking treatment from traditional public centers. Alcohol is the most abused substance, contributing to nearly 48% of all treatment center admissions. Marijuana remains Georgia’s most popular illegal drug, with a yearly treatment average of 17% of all drug-related admissions.

The state ranks among the top 10 states in the country for prescription opioid overdose deaths. According to the Journal of Pain Medicine, the current yearly cost of opioid abuse in the U.S. exceeds $25 billion. As with most cities within the state of a large metropolis, Tifton’s drug issues are highly influenced by those in Atlanta, which is listed by the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Drug Intelligence Center as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA). As with the northern Atlanta city of Dunwoody, Tifton is yet another small city that has been targeted by various Mexican drug trafficking organizations as particularly advantageous to their trade. Please refer to article on Dunwoody, Georgia on this site for further information.

As it regards Tifton statistics, the following is consistent with state substance usage: nearly 20% of high school students have smoked pot at least once, approximately 8% of the populace over age 11 have been reported as experimenting with an illegal drug, and heroin continues to be the city’s fastest-growing illicit drug of choice, as the state is a noted heroin distribution center. Current monthly binge alcohol usage, based on a raw average statistic from a number of studies, including the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, has been estimated to exceed 15% of the Tifton population, and over 1.5 million binge users in the state. Cocaine use, as with other cities in the state, declined from 2010-2015, and has remained consistent from then forward.

Tifton proper maintains a large number of treatment resources for your consideration, both private and public. Regardless of the degree of your use, you will always be able to find a resource that is workable for you.

PRE-INTAKE RESOURCES

We have discussed this in other articles here, on therecover.com, and it is well worth repeating: The United Way of Greater Atlanta, on their website www.unitedwayatlanta.org, offers an online test, as derived by Helpline Georgia, to determine one’s addiction. The questions include: “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?” And, “Have you ever been in a jail, a hospital, or a drug rehabilitation center because of your using?”

As with any other self-diagnostic tool, consider the questions asked as exploratory only. You must speak to a trained and licensed professional for any true diagnosis. Still, such online tools such as this one can be extremely useful. The Helpline Georgia questionnaire is perhaps one of the stronger such documents you will find on the Internet. The questions, as you see above, are pointed. The answers expected are honest.

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 nearly 30 questions in the questionnaire, which is highly recommend for anyone with sincere concerns as to their personal substance usage. If the results bear out that you may well be addicted, there are two Help Lines on the site, both of which we’ll list here:

  • Georgia Crisis and Access Line – 1-800-273-8255; and
  • The Veteran’s Suicide Prevention Hotline – 1-800-273-8255.

Both lines are open 24 hours, seven days a week. See the United Way website for a comprehensive list of other available resources, including treatment and recovery centers.

A caveat: Even if you don’t believe you are addicted, but are concerned that your usage is growing, or that you may be on the cusp of a problem, the Georgia Crisis and Access Line is there for you. You do not have to be on the far side of addiction to reach out on their phone line and find a friendly voice on the other side.

In the same spirit, if you are drawn to use, but have not yet, the number is certainly available to you as well. It is never too early, nor is it ever too late. These are tools that have been formed for reason, and they are there for you.

INTERVENTION

Unlike some other cities in Georgia, or in much of the county, Tifton utilizes several specialty programs related to professional family interventionists in its fight against substance abuse. On www.drug-abuse.com, you can find a list of duties of such a professional interventionist. They include

  • Planning, preparation, and engagement of the intervention.
  • Advisement of specific and appropriate treatment and rehab programs.
  • Preparing all arrangements, including family consultation so they know what to expect.
  • Continuing to work with the family – or friends – of the addict while they are undergoing inpatient or outpatient treatment.
  • Arranging of all logistics, including payment and/or insurance requirements, and arrival.

The intervention specialist also sets ground rules as to how to interact with the addict:

  • Do not get upset with your family member, or friend, during the intervention.
  • Avoid verbal labels during the intervention, such as “junkie,” “addict,” or “alcoholic.” The mindset is to not have the addict defined by their addiction.
  • When deciding who to include in the intervention – again, friends and/or family of the addict (as we will continue to say for clarity’s sake in the context of these articles) – the number of people who attend must be kept to a minimum, and managed.
  • Never perform the intervention if the addict, or another member of the group, is intoxicated.

INTAKE SERVICES

Tifton treatment and recovery centers frequently conduct their own intake services. Most undertaking an intake will subsequently receive treatment at the same location. Centers accepting Tifton residents that perform full intake services include the following:

  • BH Services of South Georgia, at 334 Tifton Eldorado Road, in the city of Tifton;
  • Intervention and Prevention Services, Inc., at 128 1st Street East, in the city of Tifton;
  • Tifton Addiction Associates, LLC, at 2402 North Tift Avenue, in the city of Tifton;
  • Pathway to Hope Counseling Services, Inc., at 1821 Old Ocilla Road, in the city of Tifton;
  • Behavioral Health Services of South Georgia, at 334 Tifton Eldorado Road, in the city of Tifton; and
  • Penfield Christian Homes, Inc., at 15320 Highway 129, in the city of Alapaha (17.7 miles from Tifton).

Program listings for each location are available on www.drug-abuse.com. For a sample of an intake application, the city of Dunwoody, also in Georgia, contains an online form for your perusal: please see www.adultdayofdunwoody.com.

Note that Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings in Tifton include:

  • The South Central Community Center, and
  • First Presbyterian Church, at 217 Park Avenue North.

Both centers open at 8PM.

For more information on either the above intake services, or the NA programs, please call 1-855-378-4228. A live operator is available 24-7.

DETOX SERVICES

Detox services for Tifton are centered throughout the community.

OUTPATIENT TREATMENT RESOURCES

AFTERCARE AND SOBER LIVING RESOURCES

IN CONCLUSION

Tifton has been highly proactive in its efforts to curb its drug issues. According to www.drugabuse.gov, the largest current apprehension is that heroin usage and the general epidemic of opiates will evolve. This is a Georgia-wide issue. The fear relates to its growing availability through the state’s DTOs, and a perception of increasing affordability.

But, as ever, help is always out there. Always do your own research to find what is best for you, and use the above listings as a base. Many of the centers previously mentioned will accept Medicaid and Medicare, or cash. Many will also work with you in terms of financial assistance. Do your diligence first, and then pick up the phone.

True recovery begins with the acknowledgment that you have an issue, and then seeking help for that issue.