Substance Abuse and Treatment in Worcester, Massachusetts
About the City
Worcester Massachusetts is the seat of Worcester County and named after Worcester England. In 2010 it was the second largest city in New England, after Boston. Located nearly 40 miles west of Boston and 50 miles east of Springfield, its location in central Massachusetts has earned it the name “heart of the Commonwealth.”
Worcester was considered its own region, apart from Boston until the 1970s. Since then, Boston’s sprawling suburbs have moved further westward and Worcester now marks the western geographical boundary of Boston. In the 1770s, Worcester was at the center of the American Revolutionary activity. Steeped in early American history, the city’s economy began moving into manufacturing in the 19th century. The city can claim many inventions and firsts, including bowling invented in 1879 and the first Valentine Day card sent in 1847. The invention of the monkey wrench and the first envelope folding machine can also call Worcester home.
After World War II, the manufacturing base began to decline, as did the city’s economy. Population drop by nearly 20% until large urban renewal projects were undertaken. It wasn’t until the late 20th century that the economy began its slow climb to recovery as the city branched out into biotechnology and healthcare.
Located in the northern United States, the city enjoys cooler climates with an average high of 31 F in January and 78 F in July. According to the US Census in 2010, Worcester had a population of slightly over 181,000 people, of which 48% were men and 51% were women.
The city has many traditionally ethnic neighborhoods, including Swedish, Italian, Irish, Polish, Lithuanian and Jewish neighborhoods. Their traditional Little Italy neighborhood boasts many of the city’s most popular restaurants and nightlife, while the Canal District has been redeveloped into a popular bar and club scene.
Drug Abuse in Worcester
Worcester’s drug abuse problems have become more evident within the school districts in the recent years as students are bringing their own issues with them into the classroom. As a result, the School Safety Office organized a youth and drugs conference aimed at enhancing awareness of student drug addiction issues among teachers and other educators as well as giving teachers the opportunity to speak with law enforcement officers, substance abuse treatment center personnel and youth services.
However, despite the rising issues with marijuana use in the school systems, Massachusetts is the top state in the country for opioid overdoses and lifetime heroin use. Wooster has almost 5% of lifetime heroin use, which is twice the state and national average. Founder and director of the Massachusetts Organization for Addiction Recovery, Maryanne Frangules, reports their group is working closely with the state legislature and public health departments to combat a complex issue that is affecting both teens and young adults.
According to statistics gathered by the county, there were 94 overdoses in 2011, which exceeded deaths from automobile accidents. The emergency room see four times the number of cases involving heroin as compared to the rest of the country. Unfortunately, experts are blaming the reason for overdose deaths on a fear of calling emergency personnel to avoid being arrested.
In response, Public Health initiatives are aimed at deep-seated social implications that are stopping individuals who are drug abusers from seeking aid. The process is an evolution in teaching individuals how to react and prevent addiction, but the dangers of prescription drugs also need to be addressed. Although bills have been passed and support centers have been opened across the state, Massachusetts still faces a problem with opioid addiction and overdose as well as the subsequent heroin addiction that results. Between 2014 and 2015 the number of deaths across Massachusetts Rose by 8%. Most of the victims were white men between ages 25 and 44, although there was one under 15 and one over 65.
Addiction to Pain Medication May Trigger Heroin Addiction
The philosophy of many heroin addiction treatment programs is to treat the addiction by placing the addict on a path to long-term recovery. Walking the individual through detoxification and then initiating an inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation stay often helps to improve an individual’s potential for getting clean and staying clean. The theory is an individual will work on a continuum of care staying within a structured inpatient stay and maintaining a 12-step program through living sober.
Heroin is a commonly abused illegal drug in the United States and a member of the opiate family. Unfortunately, you may have been prescribed an opiate prescription pain medication after seeing your physician. These pain medications may increase your risk of progressing to heroin use when the prescription runs out and your physician no longer wants to renew the prescription. Each year heroin addiction claims thousands of lives and in the past few years 80% of those who were addicted to heroin attributed their used to a prescription they once received from their physician.
Known on the street by several different names, heroin elicits feelings of elation and pleasure. This is often what gets people addicted to the drug. Heroin also works on your neurological system to achieve both and emotional and physiological addiction to the drug. Thus, detoxification may be difficult, and can be harmful if not done under a physician’s care. In essence, heroin hijacks your brain’s memory system and motivational system, so much so that you may relentlessly pursue the drug at any cost.
Heroin addiction often starts with an addiction to pain medication. Some of the more common prescription opiates are oxycodone, hydrocodone or fentanyl. These medications may have been prescribed for musculoskeletal pain, such as low back pain, or after having a dental procedure. While opioid medications are very effective in the treatment of end-stage cancer and end-of-life pain, they are highly addictive and should not be the first drug of choice to treat musculoskeletal pain.
If you feel you may be addicted to your pain medication, you can seek pain medication addiction treatment for your opioid addiction in order to reduce the potential you may subsequently become addicted to heroin. Pain medication addiction treatment programs often follow the same journey as those who have become addicted to heroin follow. The difference is that you will have addressed your problem earlier in the addiction process, which may shorten the length of your inpatient stay and reduce the potential for relapse.
Unfortunately, suffering from a heroin addiction may increase your potential risk for accompanying medical issues, such as long or cardiovascular disease, cancer and mental disorders. Drug abuse and mental illness may coexist, especially with conditions such as anxiety and depression. Today, one out of every three U.S. deaths attributed to AIDS is related to drug abuse.
Unintentional poisoning deaths from prescription opioids quadrupled between 1999 and 2010, and now outnumber deaths related to heroin and cocaine combined. You might assume that your prescription painkiller is safe, safer than illicit drugs, because they’re medically prescribed, but you would be wrong. When prescription pain medications are taken for reasons or in ways not intended by your physician, or taken by someone for whom they were not prescribed, it can result in severe health effects including overdose, death and addiction.
Medical Detox from Opiates Best Done Under Physician Care
There are two options for detoxing off of opiates. In the first case, you may be able to do this at home when under a physician’s care and in the second case you’ll be doing it at a medical detox center. Detoxification is the process of flushing out the opioids that have accumulated in your system from heroin use or from prescription opioid use. It’s not unusual to experience significant opioid withdrawal symptoms that may include:
- Muscle aches
- Runny nose
These symptoms often present within the first 6 to 12 hours after your last dose of heroin and peak within the first 72 hours. You may continue to experience some physical symptoms and cravings for up to one month, depending upon the extent of your addiction and the medications you may be using in order to lessen the symptoms through your detoxification process.
Your physician may prescribe clonidine, methadone, buprenorphine or Naltrexone in order to ease your symptoms. Each has their own advantages and disadvantages, although methadone and buprenorphine are addictive themselves. Naltrexone is not addictive and may be given as a pill, injection or as an implant during rehabilitation and detoxification.
Some studies have demonstrated individuals who begin with methadone or buprenorphine do not stop taking the drug and essentially trade one addiction for another. Withdrawal symptoms from these medications may be as severe as those from heroin and may take longer to get through.
Choose your detoxification center carefully. Consider a medical community using IV medical detox to assist with heroin withdrawal or opioid withdrawal symptoms. Under the direction of a physician who has critical care experience, IV therapy medical detox may assist your withdrawal symptoms, keeping you comfortable and improving your chances of successfully completing the detoxification process.
Treatments for Heroin Addiction Vary Based On Your Individual Situation
Heroin addiction treatment options vary based on your specific needs and the length of your addiction. However, rehabilitation only begins once detoxification has been completed. It’s important to flush your body of all physical effects of the drug before being able to address your emotional and mental needs surrounding heroin or opioid addiction.
In some instances you may be challenged by both a heroin addiction and other mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety. Some rehabilitation inpatient centers are able to address those needs simultaneously using a program specifically designed for people with co-existing addiction and mental health problems. Specifically trained staff and counselors will evaluate your case and determine the type of medication and counseling regimen that might be needed in order to stabilize symptoms. Most importantly you’ll receive an individualized care plan that helps you address your coping skills and gives you medical as well as therapeutic counseling and guidance.
Most inpatient and outpatient care facilities offer a free assessment in order for you to explore your options for recovery within their center and for them to assess your individual medical and mental needs. Prior to your admission into any inpatient treatment center or outpatient program, you’ll go through a physical examination and interview process. Physicians are interested in understanding and evaluating any underlying medical conditions you might have in order to ensure that they are addressed while in the program.
This is an excellent time in which to plan your inpatient treatment as it’s not uncommon for you to be stressed over letting go of your responsibilities with your family and your job. Remember that the Family and Medical Leave Act entitles you to up to 12 weeks of medical leave from your job, and your position is protected while you’re gone. As you’re planning your rehabilitation inpatient stay, remember to ensure care for your children, pets and any elderly parents, as well as getting your bills paid while you’re in treatment.
It’s important to remember that not every program works for every individual. Your heroin addiction treatment options are dependent on your needs and the capability of the treatment centers in your area. Each program requires a commitment on your part and a decision to get treatment for your addiction and to live a sober life.
Drug Addiction Treatment Centers Necessary for Recovery
Inpatient heroin treatment centers and rehabilitation programs, provide an effective and supportive treatment environment and are offered in a number of different settings. Many programs for heroin or other opiate-type drugs focus on your recovery while providing help and support. Recovery from heroin addiction is possible when you have a strong sober support system in place. Your inpatient treatment center and counselors will help establish that support system for you on an inpatient basis and then assist you in developing your own as you move toward outpatient care.
Heroin is a highly addictive drug, both mentally and physically. Therefore attempting to detoxify or go through recovery without help often quickly results in a relapse. You will benefit from an inpatient detoxification with subsequent treatment programs as they provide medical supervision and around the clock support.
It is important to understand the difference between a heroin tolerance and dependence as they are two different things. Both are important to understand as they affect your recovery. Tolerance occurs when the effect you’re looking for from the drug requires a higher and higher dose of the drug. When heroin is used regularly, the brain adapts and develops a tolerance to the amount of drug it’s receiving. Therefore, you require more to feel the effects. Overtime and with consistent heroin use, your brain may stop producing the chemicals that signal pleasure and your cells will shrink and become damaged. This only increases your level of tolerance, demanding more of the drug to achieve the effect.
As you develop tolerance, you are also likely developing dependence on the drug. Dependence happens when you feel you need heroin to function normally. When you are dependent on heroin you experience a discomfort when physical withdrawal symptoms begin. These symptoms can include agitation, and emotional and physical discomfort which then prompts drug seeking behaviors to relieve the symptoms. Chronic use of heroin may require an ever-increasing amount to stop the withdrawal symptoms. Thus, it’s a cycle between tolerance and dependence.
Heroin is an incredibly powerful opioid and famous for the intense psychological rush and strong addictive properties it has on the individual. Inpatient heroin treatment centers are best suited for helping you recover from a heroin addiction and go on to living a sober life. Not all treatment centers have the same track records, so you should consider a treatment center that addresses your specific needs. If you have multiple drug abuse problems or abuse heroin and alcohol, it’s important to seek out a treatment center that will help you overcome your addictions in a safe, structured environment.
Your inpatient options will vary between residential care, partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient programs. Each will provide you with a structured and organized environment and similar activities and therapies. Living within a highly structured environment helps to reduce stress and uncertainty during which healing and recovery can occur. Amenities and activities in your center will vary, but a typical day usually begins with breakfast and early morning meetings. Some programs also offer morning classes, such as yoga or meditation.
Group sessions may follow breakfast that are led by a counselor or a therapist and follow a 12-step addiction and recovery program. Following lunch you may be offered individual behavioral therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, group therapy or specialized sessions depending upon your specific needs. Some programs may offer art or music therapy, dance therapy, exercise programs, biofeedback or neurofeedback. Family support is critical in overcoming addiction and treating your family is also vital as your addiction has caused damage.
While no two roads to recovery are identical, patients at all levels of treatment will benefit from family support. Some of those advantages include helping to remove much of the shame and stigma of addiction and allowing your family to move forward with honest communication. Family support also includes educating family members about addiction and recovery so they’re better prepared to be supportive when you get home.
Your family will receive counseling and guidance to help them rebuild their own lives and their relationships with each other as well as learn how their actions could have contributed or enabled your addiction.
Although outpatient and inpatient rehabilitation programs are effective, studies have demonstrated that residential treatment care is more effective if you have a long history of addiction or maybe going to an unsupportive home environment. An intensive outpatient program is one step down from a partial hospitalization program in one step up from traditional outpatient treatment. Typically, you and your counselors along with your medical physicians will decide the type of program which may best meet your needs as you travel this journey.
Aftercare and Transitional Housing May Help Your Sobriety
Living drug-free maybe easier using an aftercare program whose goal is to prevent a relapse. Aftercare may start during your outpatient rehab program as it is a program that doesn’t interfere with your daily life. It is helpful to remember that recovery from drug and alcohol addiction does not stop after treatment ends. Aftercare will continue the process after you have been discharged from a structured inpatient or outpatient program. This is a crucial time, during which you can make large strides towards enforcing and reinforcing your own recovery.
Aftercare options help you to expand on coping strategies you learned during your inpatient or outpatient rehab. Many find comfort in undergoing group counseling sessions for an extended period of time to help share your experiences with addiction in the real world and develop coping strategies to maintain your sobriety. In some instances you may find that individual therapy meets your needs better.
In either case, most treatment programs use a 12-step addiction recovery program in their treatment protocols. This can include Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, both of which provide support and encouragement. At the same time, following your inpatient stay, you may wish to consider transitional housing or a sober living home in Worcester.
Transitional housing offers you the opportunity to receive support and, some include drug and alcohol treatment programs at their location. Although these options are not formal, they are an extension of treatment you received elsewhere.
Transitional housing offers you an environment in which you can continue your recovery. However, it is not a necessary part of your recovery but an alternative that might be used if you don’t receive the encouragement and support you needed home. Many of these homes offer structured living schedules and guidelines necessary to remain a resident. When you are surrounded by individuals who have gone through similar life experiences it can help to further your recovery and encourage relationships that are a powerful tool to maintaining your sobriety.