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Newark, New Jersey Drug Addiction

Many drugs, including prescription drugs, heroin and cocaine plague this New Jersey city. Heroin remains one of the most prominent drugs of choice in Newark.  Many of the factors contributing to the epidemic is the geography of the region, as New Jersey is the center of the one of the world’s largest zones for heroin import, allowing purer forms of the drug to enter the area first. The average purity of heroin in cities like Newark are anywhere from 40-48 percent, considerably higher than the surrounding region of the east coast and even higher than the national average, which is a little over 31 percent. Fortunately, there are options for drug rehab in Newark.

In addition, New Jersey is home to the most pharmaceutical and chemical firms in the US. Theft of prescription drug products and organized drug rings have trafficked prescription pills onto Newark’s streets. In many cases, prescription opioids become the pathway drug to heroin addiction. As pills become less available to users, less expensive heroin becomes an alternative drug of choice.

In 2014, 1,176 people in Newark sought treatment for heroin addiction, that figure would be more than any other municipality. Today, the heroin per-capita rate is 8.3 heroin-related deaths per 100,000 people. This is more than triple the national rate reported by the Centers for Disease Control. In addition, heroin now accounts for more than homicide, suicide, car accidents and AIDS as a cause of death in the state.

Assessment for Drug Addiction

Identifying the symptoms of drug abuse may vary from drug to drug, but the overall characteristics remain the same. Assessing a loved one is suffering with addiction or acknowledging one’s own problem with drugs is the first step towards help. Becoming aware that drugs have become a problem begins with some of the following red flags.

Needing drugs to feel normal

When addiction takes hold, normalcy becomes defined by the euphoric state the drug produces. The ability to perform every day, simple functions becomes defined by the drug. Functioning addicts may not even consider their usage an addiction as it allows them to go to work or school. Not being able to perform tasks or conduct your life without the drug is an alarming indication of addiction.

Attempts to quit, fail

If a loved one has tried to quit and repeatedly failed, then it is time seek the help and receive a professional assessment at a rehabilitation center. Not being able to quit often leads to feelings of failure or a sense of having no will-power. Too many addicts realize too late that a powerful drug like heroin creates both a psychological and physical need that is difficult to beat without help.

All money goes to drugs

When most of an addicted person’s money goes to their drug of choice to your drug of choice, they are definitely facing a problem with addiction. When essential funds that pay for food, rent and bills are deferred to pay for drugs, then the problem is reaching an especially critical level.

Taking risks

The influence of drugs may lead the addicted to performs acts of risky behavior. Whether driving under the influence with family in the car, or having unprotected sex become common as drugs reduce inhibitions and make reckless choices easier.

Declining performance at work or school

As a drug addiction deepens, the drug takes precedence over other responsibilities in life.  Poor performance at work or at school. This is often the result of frequent absenteeism caused by the illness from heavy drug use or from withdrawals brought on during attempts to quit.

Pre-intake and Readiness for Rehab

Pre-intake assessments are the first step to determining how rehabilitation professionals can help. Medical experts use a series of tests to define a clear picture of your health, mentally, physically and psychologically under the impact of drugs. The goal of pre-intake will be to determine the severity of the addiction and even family history of addiction.

A pre-intake test may include:

  • Medical Evaluation
  • Psychiatric Evaluation
  • Cognitive Testing
  • Toxicology Testing

The Intake Process and 10 Steps Down the Path to Recovery

Determining where individuals falls within the stages of addiction is what rehabilitation center assessors seek to understand first. Severe cases may involve long periods of hospitalization and withdrawal. In instances where the addiction has been identified early and the patient is eager for treatment, outpatient programs and medications may help. The key to intake is to determine the needs that exist right now and how the recovery specialists can begin the best treatment. Most importantly, rehab professionals will begin to educate the addicted about their addiction and how to recover with their assistance.

What the Addicted Learn During Rehabilitation

  1. The drug has rewired the individual’s brain for dependency. In rehab, they will learn to recondition their outlook for living a sober life. They will learn to retrain the brain.
  2. The sooner the treatment, the better. There is never a point of no return, but the sooner treatment is engaged, the sooner recovery can begin.
  3. Rehab is not a uniform treatment process. Various treatments and types of recovery centers work differently depending on the addiction severity and the personality of the addicted. During intake, a recovery specialist helps determine the best course of action.
  4. IT’s not just about getting off drugs. The addicted started taking drugs for a reason. If that reason is not addressed, the potential for relapse is great. Rehab will pursue all the areas of recovery including deep-rooted causes that led to drug use.
  5. Mental health may be a factor. Often drugs become a self-medicating remedy for the mentally ill. Determining the presence of mental disorders helps rehab professionals decide on medications and treatment beyond the addiction.
  6. Medical evaluations look for medical conditions that may impact treatment, from HIV to TB, which can affect prescribed medications in rehab.
  7. Is the addicted individual willing to commit to the time needed to recovery? It is essential that the patient’s personal dedication to recovery is genuine and that they will put in the time to get well.
  8. It’s not just about detox. Often, patients think rehab is It’s more than that, involving a long healing process beyond freeing them from the physical grip of drug addiction.
  9. The family may need to get involved. Many drug problems can be traced back to family life. Family therapy is part of the long-term recovery process.
  10. Medications may be prescribed. There are many effective drugs that will help curb cravings and boost recovery.

The Detox Process

The detox process is the first step toward physical rehabilitation. Removing all traces from drugs from the body is one of the most difficult steps in the process. Medications may aid in the process, easing the painful symptoms of withdrawal. Rehab professionals will monitor progress and ensure no medical emergencies occur during the difficult detox process. Many factors may impact the severity of detox.

  1. The user’s personal physiology
  2. The type of drug of used
  3. How long the drug had been used
  4. If other drugs are being used

Its not advised that anyone attempt detox on their own.

Withdrawal

Withdrawals occur when the absence of the drug of choice is removed. The body fights back, usually within a couple of hours of the detox process. Symptoms of withdrawal may include extreme depression and a loss of concentration. Extreme fatigue and agitation and difficulty sleeping also become persistent side effects to ending drug use.  Recovery professionals may prescribe medications to aid in the detox process. These meds can make the detox process less painful.

Medications That Manage the Recovery Process

Prescribed medications that help the addicted through recovery vary. They are only a part of the long recovery process. They vary by drug.

Methadone

Methadone is the most often used for heroin addiction. The value of methadone is that the prescribed dose can be can reduced over time, weening the addicted off dependency.

Buprenorphine

Buprenorphine is an alternative option to heroin and prescription opioid medication addiction. Buprenorphine has the advantage over methadone has it can help manage cravings without producing a high. Tapering down usage is applied the same as methadone.

Whether medications are used or not, the process of recovery after detox is just the beginning. Recovery experts will determine what type of treatment needs to be pursued.

Inpatient Treatment

After detox, the long struggle to recovery usually involves intensive inpatient treatment. Residential treatment care and partial hospitalization are two options the addicted may need to achieve recovery. Long-standing addiction usually requires residential treatment, especially if medical or psychological conditions are tied to the habit or there are addictions to other drugs such as cocaine or alcohol. Under the 24/7 care of professionals, patients can work through the stress and temptations to relapse that linger after detox. Treatment may occur in a hospital with the round the clock attention of healthcare professionals or at a residential recovery center.

Outpatient treatment

In some cases, a less severe addiction case may receive outpatient treatment. Outpatient programs allow some recovering addicts to continue a life with family and work while receiving treatment throughout the week. Outpatient usually also become the continuing step once inpatient treatments completed. Gradually reintroducing the recovering individual into family life, work life and school while continuing to get support from recovery professionals helps reduce the risk of relapse. Outpatient may include day programs in which patients commit to regular therapy meetings as well as other types of recuperative therapy five to seven days a week.  In some instance intensive outpatient therapy is required for those well on the road to recovery who still need support of therapeutic sessions a few hours each week.

Aftercare

Whether it be impatient or outpatient program, when the rehabilitation process ends, recovery is not over. The risk of outside stresses from friendships, work and family can still trigger relapse. Influences that drove addiction may still be thriving in the community to which a recovering person returns. Because these external factors do not change, an extended period of aftercare maintains the strong and meaningful support system that prevents drug addiction from re-entering a person’s life. Aspects of aftercare usually include group therapy and sometimes family therapy.

The Power of Group Therapy

One of the most useful methods for maintaining sobriety is group therapy. In these nurturing group settings, recovering individuals come together to discuss their addictions and gain the support from others within the group.  The powerful message that comes from these therapies is that those recovering are not alone with all the issues pressuring them toward drugs.  The group becomes in a sense a recovery family of liked-minded souls on the same path. They can understand issues, emotions and impulses that made be misunderstood by family, friends or loved ones.

Family Therapy

In many case, family members can become a part of the therapy sessions. Often, in the throes of addiction, an individual may lie, cheat, steal and even abuse members of his or her own family. In recovery, these intense wounds remain and need to heal. Family therapy as an approach aids not only the recovering addict but the family as well who may have becomes personally affected by their addicted love one’s behavior. Research shows that family therapy sessions results in higher rates of success among those recovering and increased participation in aftercare. The therapy helps improve trusted communication among family members, rebuild broken relationships and address codependency issues.

Family therapy is needed when:

  • Other family members are also using drugs or alcohol
  • The user’s drug addiction is related to family issues
  • Codependent relationships are influencing recovery

Sober Living: A Life Without Drugs

The focus on living a sober life requires the commitment of the recovered individual. There are many pitfalls that continue to plague someone addicted to drugs. The typical pressures that most people manage can easily become tipping points back into relapse for someone who was addicted to drugs or alcohol. When treatment is finished, recovery becomes more complex and reliance on long-term group therapy sessions, sober living faculties and dramatic changes in lifestyle can all help someone struggling with sobriety discover it as a meaningful way of life.

Often, outpatient facilities will help establish a plan. Depending on the severity of the addiction and the personality of the individual, follow-up programs and even drug testing to maintain accountability may be recommended by rehabilitation professionals. The frequency of therapy sessions and the availability of a counselor by phone when needed are often comforting pillars of positive support in the life of someone recovering from drug addiction.

Sober Living Facilities

If a recovering person is returning to an environment where the presence of drugs is prevalent, often treatment centers will recommend sober living homes. Here, individuals can go about their normal lives of work and school and return to a positive and sober living environment every night. If residents comply with house rules and remain sober, a recovering addict may find relief and long-term support through such a facility.

After Care Support Programs

Though unrelated to treatment centers, twelve step support groups are another way that one recovering can continue to maintain interaction and engagement with peers for sober living. A counselor at an inpatient or outpatient facility, once treatment is completed, may recommend some of the following programs.

  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
  • Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
  • Pills Anonymous (PA)
  • Cocaine Anonymous (CA)
  • Crystal Meth Anonymous (CMA)

Twelve step programs create goals when there are none. They provide a gradual process of achievement through a serious of fulfilling steps toward sobriety. Within these support groups, individuals share relatable experiences, learn from the experiences of others and participant in the steps collectively toward rebuilding a sober life.

Common Risks of Recovery After Treatment

Too Much, Too Soon

Often a recovering person is eager to get back to a normal way of life right away. This enthusiasm may result in taking on too much responsibility at once. The pressures and demands of a new job, decisions to take on more work at school or even deciding to have a child may all seem like healthy choices. But for the addicted who has lived under the influence of drugs for so long, these new pressures may overwhelm the person and drive them back to drug use.  It is vital that the process of recovery be slow and steady, and the help of support groups or counselors lead them to make choices that are realistic for their recovery.

Encountering Damaged Relationships

Even though an individual may feel like they are on the path to recovery, the people they have hurt while addicted only remember the pain they caused. Betrayals and poor behavior leave scars on family, friends and even acquaintances who may only see the recovering person as someone who is not trustworthy. Rebuilding those relationships takes time. Unfortunately, encounters with damaged individuals from a recoverin person’s past bring up past shame and regret, negative emotions that may lead the individual down a path to relapse. Often the recovering person may feel like they are no good and even in recovery cannot make up for damage done. Help from counselors and support groups can heal these relationships.

Communication is Key

Most importantly, a recovering person needs to communicate and listen to family and friends. A drug addiction that may have occurred in their teen years when they were a developing individual is quite different than a recovering person now in their mid-twenties. Because loved ones may not understand the scope of that individual’s development, they may still see that person as an addicted teen, no matter how old they get or how much progress they make. Locking the recovering person into the past can lead them into a relapse. They may see no choice and may in fact agree that they are worth nothing and that their stigma as an addict is accurate.  Listening and learning from those that they have hurt is critical to the recovering person to prevent this pitfall. By communicating, they can begin to understand what is expected of them now as someone who is no longer addict. They must talk about expectations so that realistic standards and goals can be defined by both the recovering and their loved ones. Counselors and support groups are always guides in this process, offering advice and lessons to both the recovering and their family.

Committing to Sobriety

Regardless of the support they receive from outside groups and family, sobriety is still the recovering person’s responsibility.  A drink after work with coworkers, a joint passed around at a party may all seem harmless compared to heavy drug use from the past. But these incidents can become immediate triggers that launch a downward spiral. Temptations are all around and avoiding them is one of the most difficult tasks of the recovering. They must talk about their triggers with friends and family. Communicating the temptations to support groups maintains that dedication to sober living.

A Change in Lifestyle: Maintaining a Sober Life Through Living One

When a person once addicted changes the way they live they rewire the addicted brain. Changing a focus away from drugs to positive aspects of life is the primary solution for staying sober.

Establishing Sober Relationships

The friendships forged during an addictive lifestyle sometimes don’t go away after sobriety.  Often those friends will drag a recovering individual back into drugs with temptations and sometimes jealously for their own inability to escape addiction. Fond memories are a part of these bonds and can make it difficult to escape these relationships. Often these positive memories will involve getting high with them. For this is reason, these old ties can be poisonous to someone on a positive path to recovery and may require that they be broken. A recovering person needs to build new relationships where sobriety is a mainstay. Otherwise, it is only being matter of time before temptation wins out among influential peers who use drugs.

 Adding New Activities to Life

An addict’s life revolves around drugs, so a sober life will often feel dull and empty when drug use is absent. The feeling of boredom that accompanies sobriety is a strong temptation. How to fill days without being high can be a struggle. Recovering individual needs to take on new activities that replace the use of drugs. Meaningful activities are especially useful such as contributing to charity or getting involved in support programs to help others escape addiction. This refocus will help a recovering person realize that a sober life is very fulfilling.

Physical Fitness Matters

Regular exercise helps replace the lethargy of drug use. In a sober life, physically fitness raises energy levels and contributes to a strong sense of well-being and self-confidence. Exercise puts the recovering person in the company of other healthy-minded people.  Positive influence from those dedicated to a healthy lifestyle will rub off and enhance sober living goals.

A Healthy Diet

During a period of addiction, disregard for personal health only compounds the destructiveness of drug use. Junk food replaces a healthy diet and hunger cravings fueled by drugs add unnecessary calories and pounds to an unhealthy body.   In a sober lifestyle, making corrections to diet can change the way how recovering individual feels. Increasing fruits and vegetables and drinking plenty of water replenishes a malnourished body and also improves the mind. A healthy diet is a boost to sober living.

A Healthy Sleep Routine

When addicted, drugs define when a person sleeps. Depending on the drug of choice, addicts will either sleep all day and night or go for long periods without any sleep at all.  Often drugs were depended upon to sleep. With sober living, developing a sleep schedule replaces the crashing” of addicted rest cycles and contribute to recovery by developing a rhythm that rejuvenates the recovering person. When awake they will experience increased energy and better mood.  Sleeping well replaces the uneasiness that comes with addiction. There will be a sharp increase in mental alertness as well. Rather than the constant struggle to fend off the temptation of an addicted life, all the factors of a healthy lifestyle combine to make a sober life simply a new way to live, free of that struggle.

The Pursuit of Dreams and Goals

Perhaps the most important ingredient to a sober life is fulfilling dreams and goals. Drug addiction creates a stunted vacuum in a life leaving the addicted person spinning in place with drugs at the center of that circle. When those hindrances are removed, a recovering person can see a positive and meaningful future as a possibility. The potential for a successful career becomes possible. Starting a family can be acheived. Even dreams such as traveling or writing a book become goals that can accomplished now that the grip of addiction is removed from a life.   Aspirations can prosper with sober living and the physical and emotional barriers fall away.  The possibilities become endless and a sober life the only way to live.

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