The Drug Abuse and Addiction Epidemic in Shreveport, Louisiana
Shreveport is considered as the third largest city in the state of Louisiana. It has an estimated population of 198,242 people. Its median household income is $49,528 and with an unemployment rate of 6% according to reports released in the year 2017. It is known for having some of the most exciting entertainment spots, state of the art restaurants and picturesque sights. It has modern roads, airports and railroads which make transportation quite convenient. However, it is these infrastructural developments that have also contributed to the growing drug abuse and addiction trends. Unscrupulous people are taking advantage of these transportation options to traffic drugs into the city or through it.
Some of the most affected people in this city are the youths and young adults. Numerous reports show that these individuals are abusing Marijuana and cocaine at alarming rates. Heroin, methamphetamine and alcohol are also other substances that are being used wrongfully. Local authorities have put in place various programs to discourage possession, distribution and trafficking of illicit substances in the city and while these efforts have paid off they are not enough. Individuals are still getting entangled in the web of addiction. That is why it is necessary to learn about drug abuse and addiction consequences. It is also important to note that treatment for addiction is available within the city.
The Top 4 Most Commonly Used and Abused Substances in Shreveport
This drug is available in the form of a white powder or a rock like crystal. On the streets the substance is known by a number of names including coke, crack, candy, pearl, big rush, flake, snow, baseball, bump, rail and powder. Users can take it by snorting, smoking or dissolving in a liquid and injecting into the veins. Regardless of the method of intake users are likely to get a rush of euphoria and heightened energy a few moments after taking the drug. Some of its pleasurable effects include feelings of joy and a short term escape into a world of fantasy.
Cocaine is an illegal drug in Shreveport which is why it is advisable that individuals stay away from it. It is also known to cause a lot of negative effects to users and their loved ones as noted below.
- Causes a loss of sense of smell
- May damage nasal tissues due to frequent snorting
- Weakens or leads to partial paralysis of the muscles
- Compromises the immune system of users
- May cause gradual damage to internal organs
- Leads to extreme anxiety and depression
- Users are at a high risk of becoming dependant or addicted to the drug
- Can cause sudden death due to overdose
- Leads to financial difficulties
- Causes a straining of relations within the family
- May lead to arrest and imprisonment
- May cause poor performance in academics or work
- Can cause long term mental problems
- Increases chances of contracting infections and diseases
This substance is made from the dried stems, leaves and flowers of the cannabis plant. It is a legally acceptable substance in some states but not in Louisiana. This means that possession, cultivation, trafficking and use may lead to arrest and prosecution in a court of law. Nonetheless the substance has been decriminalized. Users take it by way of smoking in much the same way as a cigarette. There are times when people brew it as tea for drinking or mix it in foods such as cookies. Some of the most common street names for marijuana include ganja, weed, pot, grass, reefer, dope and herb.
Users may have different reactions to the substance due to method of intake, quantity taken and personal factors. In most cases people that have taken the substance feel upbeat and energetic. It also boosts appetite and causes a euphoric effect. It is the long term negative effects of marijuana that make it one of the most dangerous substances in the region. Below are some of the negative consequences of continuous use of this substance.
- Lowers IQ points for individuals that start using it in their teenage years
- Causes antisocial behavior such as stealing, violence and lying
- Strains family and professional relations
- Leads to financial problems
- May cause damage to internal organs including lungs and brain
- May lead to dependence and addiction
- May cause severe withdrawal effects in case a user tries to quit
- Lowers chances of getting employed
- Increases the risks of suffering a stroke and other heart related complications
- Leads to development of hallucinations
- Increases heart rate
- May cause sexual problems for men
Heroin is an opioid drug that is illegal in all the states. It is a powerful substance with the potential of becoming addictive after a few times of use. In its undiluted form it comes as a white powder. However, when mixed with certain additives it may be available as a gray, brown or black powder. Individuals take this drug for recreational purposes because of its short term pleasurable effects or euphoria. While high people may experience a change in their mood, thoughts and sensations. Those who are in pain tend to find brief relief from it.
The drug can be taken through a variety of methods including injection, smoking, snorting and inhaling as vapor. Some of the most commonly used street names for this substance include dope, skag, boy, H, junk, mud, tar, china white, brown sugar, white and sack. The long term negative effects of using and abusing heroin are listed below.
- Damaging of the skin due to frequent scratching and injection
- A loss of appetite and development of malnutrition
- Extreme constipation
- A weakened immune system
- A decline in sexual functioning
- Sleep disturbances and insomnia
- Decline in dental health
- A weakened muscle system because of frequent injections
- Higher chances of getting infections because of careless actions such as unprotected sex and sharing of needles
- Inability to perform well at work or in school
- Straining of family and professional relations
- Dependence and addiction to the drug
- Financial difficulties
- Damage to internal organs
- Death due to overdose or deadly drug interactions
This is one of the most powerful central nervous system stimulants. In rare occasions it may be used for medicinal purposes but is generally abused by people who use it for recreational purposes. It is often available in the form of a crystalline white powder that produces no odor. However, it may be mixed with other additives to form colors such as brown, yellow-gray, orange and pink. Users take this drug by dissolving it in water or any other liquid and injecting it into their veins. Some users may smoke or snort it after crushing the crystal particles. Some street names for methamphetamine include fast, chalk, brown, crystal, blade, yaba, tina and Mexican crack.
This substance is illegal in the state of Louisiana meaning that anyone found in possession, trafficking or distributing it can be arrested and prosecuted in a court of law to serve a prison sentence. It is worth pointing out that this substance is synthetic in nature meaning it is developed in a laboratory rather than being derived from a natural organism. The meth rush lasts for up to 30 minutes this is unlike the drugs mentioned above which give a rush that lasts for a few minutes only. Below are some of the devastating effects of abusing this meth.
- Irregular sleep patterns
- Sudden onset of panic and psychosis
- Convulsions and seizures
- Bizarre behavior including violence
- Stealing, lying and exchanging sex for money just to get another dose of meth
- Permanent damage to various blood vessels
- Damage to the kidneys, liver and lungs
- Respiratory complications for those who smoke it
- Damage to the brain
- Death from overdose
- Dependence and addiction
Understanding Why People Use Drugs
Examining some of the reasons why individuals use and abuse drugs can help in forestalling addiction and resolving some of the things that push people to the edge.
Hard times – when faced with various life challenges some people opt for drug use as a way of escaping from reality. Some of the problems that may push people to drug abuse include heartbreak, divorce, financial problems and unemployment. Individuals that are experiencing such things may wrongfully think that drinking alcohol or using drugs can help them stop worrying or being stressed.
Curiosity – a significant number of teenagers and young adults start using drugs out of curiosity. They sometimes start using drugs believing that it is a one time event only to end up getting entangled in the web of addiction.
To have fun – some people use drugs because they believe being high is the best way to have fun. Keep in mind that drugs such as cocaine and marijuana increase energy levels making it possible for individuals to dance or party for longer periods.
To forget the past – there are a number of cases where drug abuse is closely associated to traumatic events that may have taken place in the past. Teenagers that come from broken families may use drugs to relieve themselves of emotional pain. Individuals that have gone through experiences such as rape and physical assault are also at risk of abusing drugs.
To boost confidence – because some drugs are known to induce confidence people may use them as a way of boosting their chances of looking confident in front of peers or work colleagues.
Pain relief – Drugs such as heroin or prescription medication may be used to relieve the body of pain. However, after using these drugs for a period they end up becoming addictive and destructive to health.
How do individuals develop a substance addiction?
Substance addiction does not take place overnight. Instead it is a process that may take place within a few weeks to years. The speed at which an individual becomes addicted to a substance depends on personal traits, type of substance and the quantity used over a specific period. Below is the process that leads up to addiction.
- The introduction stage
Before people use drugs they must learn about it from somewhere. In most cases people get to learn about drugs during their teenage years. It is also at this time that they are curious about almost everything. Some teens learn about drugs from peers and siblings while others may read about it in books, listen to music lyrics talking about it or watching movies that show the fun effects of the drug.
- The experimentation stage
At this stage having knowledge about the drug is no longer enough. Individuals want to experience for themselves how the drug can make them feel and that is why they may try it out. It is important to note that first time users are often cautious which is why they may take the drug in small quantities. The problem is that because the body is not used to the particular drug chances are that it will react quickly to it even if taken in small amounts. Individuals that get a pleasurable experience during this stage are likely to use the drug again.
- Regular use
Because of the pleasurable experience that is derived from substance use a lot of people become fond of the substance of choice. At this point they increase the number of times they use it. For teens this may happen during the long holidays or over the weekends. Those who are employed are known to drop by a local bar or club just to take a drink or two before heading home. Those who are unemployed may use substance more times than those who are going to school or work because they have a lot of free time.
- Risky or problem use
Regular use can quickly turn into problem use. At this stage individuals use their substance of choice at any opportunity they get. They may start using it even at work or school making it possible for authorities to detect. Another thing that takes place during this stage is that the body develops a tolerance for the substance that is being used. This makes it necessary for users to increase the quantity of the substance they take or mix it with some other drugs to boost its potency. It is at this stage that most people end up overdosing and getting rushed to the emergency room.
- Substance dependence
Repeated use of just about any drug leads to dependence. This is a physically adaptive state in which the body needs a certain amount of the drug to function properly. Failure to administer the substance of choice results in withdrawal effects as noted below.
- Muscle cramps
- Cold chills
- Profuse sweating
- Extreme anxiety
- Abdominal cramps
- Social isolation
- Suicidal thoughts
- Nausea and vomiting
- Agitation or crying
- Congested nose or running nose
- Loss of interest in activities
- Mental confusion
- Substance addiction
Because of the unpleasant effects of quitting the use of substance a lot of people continue using. This eventually leads to a state where individuals want the drug compulsively. In other words the craving is not only a physical thing but it also becomes a psychological want. Individuals that are addicted to substance are unable to continue carrying out daily obligations. Drug use becomes their main agenda on a daily basis and this cripples their progress socially and financially. Below are some of the signs and symptoms of drug addiction.
- Spending money on substance even when it is too expensive for you to afford
- Ensuring that you have stable supply of the substance
- Craving the substance
- Experiencing withdrawal if you try to quit using
- Taking the substance at odd places like school or work
- Feeling guilty after using the drug
- Going out of your way to get the drug, this may include lying and stealing
- Needing larger amounts of the substance to get high
- Engaging in risky activity when under the influence
- Breaking off relations for the sake of the drug
What are some facts about drug addiction you should know?
Addiction is a disease – once an individual is addicted to substance they are unable to quit using it even if they genuinely want to. Addiction is a disease that affects both the body and the mind which is why the addict always feels compelled to use drugs.
Number of addicts in USA – over 21 million Americans are addicted to substance use. The most commonly affected group is between 12 and 24 years of age. It is only 11% of these people that get professional treatment.
Addiction is treatable – there is a significant number of people that do not understand addiction and think it is a phase in people’s lives or some kind of a curse that cannot be treated. The truth is that addiction can be treated just like any other treatable condition.
Treatment is an alternative to imprisonment – unknown to illicit drug users is that getting treatment can be the best way to escape imprisonment. Most states are able to pardon drug use on condition that the user agrees to receive professional treatment.
Understanding the Treatment of Drug Addiction
The main aim of treatment is to stop the user from taking the substance and prevent any future possibility of relapsing into the same condition. Treatment for addiction usually takes place at a rehabilitation facility. Once a case of addiction is reported a social worker or doctor is likely to take up the matter and carry out initial analysis. The professional gives guidance on how to go about the process. After initial examinations are carried out on the patient he or she can be treated under an outpatient or inpatient program. Treatment programs take between 30 to 90 days depending on severity of addiction and the type of substance in question. Below are a few of the things that may take place during treatment.
Patient counselling – because addiction greatly affects the way people think it is important to hold various counselling sessions aimed at resolving past mistakes. During these talks therapists identify some of the destructive thought patterns of the patient and then give tips or advise on how to avoid them. The patient is encouraged to turn away from destructive behaviors and instead embrace ideas that are likely to lead to positive progress.
Treatment of diseases – patients that may have developed diseases or conditions that affect health must be given medical treatment. This is why most treatment centers have highly qualified doctors to handle the disease and infection aspect of treatment.
Detox – before an individual recovers from addiction detoxification must take place. This is the process of getting rid of the drug or alcohol content in the system. Doctors may sometimes provide alternative medications that mimic the effects of the drug that the patient is addicted to. This helps in managing withdrawal effects. Engaging in a certain set of exercises and adhering to a particular diet may equally help during the detox process.
Physical therapy – one of the things that may take place during physical therapy is medicinal massaging. This allows the patient to relax and be free of stress. It also decreases the painful sensations that may be experienced during detox. Physical therapists may also use special devices and techniques to help the patient regain strength and mobility.
Support groups – most rehabilitation facilities encourage patients to form support groups. These groups make it possible for individuals to share their thoughts and concerns regarding various things. With the input of other group members each individual is able to face challenges with the help of colleagues. Support groups enable members to share their own experiences and learn from others.
Spiritual nourishment – drug addiction affects the way an individual relates to God. This is why it may be necessary for such a person to be provided with sound teachings to set them on the right path. This component of treatment is common in religious rehabilitation facilities.
Proper nutrition – most drug users are malnourished and that is why treatment programs incorporate healthy dieting techniques to boost nutrition.