Addiction and Treatment in Fargo, North Dakota
Fargo, the most populated city in North Dakota has 115,863 people which accounts for about 16 percent of the entire state’s population. Located in Cass County, Fargo forms the Fargo-Moorhead area with its twin city Moorhead, Minnesota as well as West Fargo, North Dakota and Dilworth, Minnesota. The area is known well as a retail, cultural, healthcare and industrial center for eastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota.
Tourists can see aircraft dating back to World War I at the Fargo Air Museum which also hosts traveling exhibits. Bonanzaville, named from historical bonanza farms from the area is in West Fargo and a popular attraction for tourists. It is a village made up of historic buildings that includes a school, a church and many log cabins. A 1926 Art Deco movie theatre named Fargo Theatre, presents both classic and current films as well as live productions that is fun for the whole family. The city also has a US Navy vessel named after it, the USS Fargo.
While Fargo has many great sites to see, the city is also facing several different crisis’ just like other cities in America. Unemployment, crime and drugs are three top concerns that America is facing because one dominos right into the other one. Unemployment causes many people to turn to drugs because they feel their life has no purpose, drugs end up creating a pathway to crime when people start to withdrawal and need to get their next dose. This is a very one-sided outlook, so this isn’t something that happens to everyone, but it is something that happens on average. Since people are different, drugs will impact each person differently. Not everyone who abuses drugs will turn to crime and not everyone who is unemployed will do drugs.
Crime in Fargo rates in at a 13 out of 100, 100 being the safest. The small town is cozy and full of culture and history. Residents of Fargo love its homey feel and those who want to retire believe that Fargo is one of the best places to do so. Alternatively, crime is up in the area. The unemployment rate for Fargo is at 1.9 percent. Many cities across America are having the same issue with finding work. There just isn’t enough to go around or there aren’t enough jobs to cover the amount of people without a college degree. Which as stated above, both can lead to drug use.
For Fargo, its surrounding areas and nearly all American cities, opioids are a big problem. Opioids are turning up at jobs, at people’s homes and at schools. The drug is so popular that people are either abusing it themselves or know someone who is. Having said that, opioid popular drugs like fentanyl and/or heroin are among the headlines of local news station on the daily. Also, the internet is bogged down with constant news reports about fentanyl or heroin drugs busts. For Fargo, much like other cities in the U.S., heroin kills more people than homicides do.
The Effects of Opioids
Opioids destroy families and community’s. Young, old, female, male, white collar or blue collar, it doesn’t matter. Opioids have the potential to turn a non-drug user into an addict and it can happen quickly.
Opioids are very hard on the body. If one is injecting heroin, it can cause the veins to collapse. For the heart, the lining can become infected. After heavy opioid use, the brain can become sedated. The lungs can depress which slows down breathing and could become fatal. The digestive system slows down which can cause constipation and the risk for hepatitis increases due to sharing infected needles. The nervous system can become more sensitive which leads to more pain while the immune system can become more vulnerable to infections.
Signs and Symptoms of Drug Abuse
Knowing what the signs and symptoms of drug abuse are can help to save a life. Knowing what an overdose looks like can also save a life. Here are signs and symptoms for both.
- Blood shot eyes
- Larger or smaller pupils than average
- Changes in appetite or sleeping patterns
- Weight gain or weight loss
- Lack of care for personal hygiene or physical appearance
- Slurred speech
- Inability to sleep, alert all the time
- Nervous all the time
- Decreased appetite
- Track marks
- Lack of care for personal hygiene or physical appearance
- Violent and/or aggressive
- Social isolation
- Risky behavior
- Talkative (more than usual)
- Boost of confidence
- Weight loss
- Dilated pupils
- White powder residue around nose and mouth
- Loss of interest in things once enjoyed
- Gurgling or choking sound coming from mouth
- Blue or pale skin and fingertips
- A very weak pulse or no pulse
- Patches of white on tongue
- Unable to talk but awake
- Breathing is shallow
- Loss of consciousness
ND Prevention and Immunity Law
This law protects individuals from criminal prosecution as long as they contact emergency medical services or law enforcement to report that either they or someone else needs emergency medical assistance due to a drug overdose. To be given immunity, individual must be:
- At the scene the entire time, up until assistance has arrived on scene
- Cooperative with emergency medical services and be able to answer questions asked about drugs, how much was taken, what type and when
- In need of emergency medical services, person must be overdosing
Binge Drinking Is Also a Fargo Concern
For North Dakota State University, another growing problem is binge drinking. Binge drinking can lead to other health problems as well as poor academic performance. In 2016, the average number of drinks consumed per week for students was 6.42.
Drug Education and Awareness
Education and awareness are two important things that can be done to help decrease the amount of people who are addicted to drugs. By educating people about the dangers of drugs and why drugs like opioids are so bad, more overdoses can be prevented in the future.
Education needs to start in schools. Today, many parents believe that elementary school children are too young to learn about drugs. Honestly, if they are old enough to have a smart phone with internet capability, they are old enough to learn about the dangers of drugs. Social media is already putting a message out there through all the short videos and memes that are shared. This leads to negativity all on its own but then you have teens making videos of themselves vaping (also a very popular trend among middle school and high school kids) and they post those up too. Suddenly, children in elementary school want to do the same thing. All it takes is some videos of children popping pills and talking about it online for more teens to start doing the same things. Trends do not happen in school anymore, they are happening on the internet and everyone is braver online than they are off of it. This is seen daily. Children will follow anything that looks cool online.
The same tool that is used to put negativity out there can also be used to put positivity out there. Social media is full of people who are following their favorite famous people and doing as they do from dieting to wearing the newest fashion craze. This is where a drug free trend can start. It just takes a few stars saying it and putting up a trendy hashtag for it to catch on. Instead of children doing the Tide Pod challenge, they can do the drug free challenge. For teens, they will do anything that is trending online.
Even though social media can be used for the positive, most of the time it is completely negative. People are judging each other continuously and cyber bulling is a thing too! Trolls (people who love to make others miserable) are constantly attacking other people online which makes it a negative place to be. Teens always have their phones in their hand looking at the “next great thing” on the internet and most of the time, it’s all negative. Teens are downloading apps that allow others to say anonymous comments about them which is negative.
On top of that, because teens are staying inside all the time and on their phones, there is very little quality of life anymore. What happened to exploring? What happened to getting out and doing things? That really doesn’t exist anymore. Teens and adults are guilty of this too, have their phones in their face all the time. Getting out and about allows a person to enjoy some vitamin D from the sun, without a good source of that particular vitamin it is possible for depression and anxiety to set in. Another issue that American’s are facing. In fact, 1 in 5 adults has a mental health condition. From 2012 to 2015, severe depression in youths increased by 2.3 percent.
This is the education and the awareness that needs to be shared. Children, teens and adults all need to be aware of what drugs, specifically, opioids are causing. Children and teens believe that if they are taking over-the-counter medication or prescription medication that it is not as bad as other drugs like heroin and cocaine. That is not true at all. Even over-the-counter medication is habit forming for some people and too many of them can cause a problem too. It’s important for teens and children to know that.
It’s also vital to make sure they know that it’s important to help someone who is abusing drugs. Many teens choose not to say anything when they see one of their friends doing drugs rather they partake or not. Teens need to know that it’s important to tell someone because drugs cost people their life. I believe that more teens would want their friends mad at them than to have a fatal overdose.
Drug and Alcohol Rehab
For people who are addicted to drugs there is one place to go, drug rehab. Rehab can sound a bit scary for people who have never been and sometimes, it’s even scary for people who have been. However, there is nothing to fear about rehab. It gives people the chance to start all over again. People who are addicted to drugs are down on their luck, they’ve hit rock bottom. Rehab gives that person the chance to heal so that they can move forward in their life, in a more positive direction. The more a person knows about the process, the less they have to fear.
Assessment or Pre-intake
The first part of any rehabilitation program is an assessment or pre-intake. The assessment is done at the very beginning, so doctors can find out if a person really has an addiction and what sort of treatment that patient might need. Sometimes, a patient needs to be recommended to a different facility. The assessment just asks some basic questions about drug use so that the doctor will be able to make a diagnosis. Once that is done, an intake will be taken.
An intake is much like an assessment, but it has many more questions and this time the questions are about family medical, mental health and drug history. A physical exam is also done during the intake process, so the doctor can assess the patient’s body to make sure they can withstand detox. Some lab tests will be administered as well to check for drugs in the system. After which, the patient will be fully admitted, and a list of non-permitted items will be handed out. These items are usually standard across any facility: no drugs or alcohol, no food or drink, no weapons, no revealing clothing, no pornography, no over-the-counter medication, etc. Financial arrangements will also be made during this time.
Detox is cleansing drugs from the body. Without this process, it would be impossible to make a recovery. Drugs leave a person feeling unlike themselves and unable to process things like they would with a level-head. Detox allows a person to wash drugs out of their system so that they have the best chance for recovery. It lasts about 5-7 days and withdrawal symptoms will start up about 6-12 hours into detox but will peak at about the 72-hour mark.
- Muscle tension/pain
- Runny nose
- Drug cravings
- Violent outburst
If withdrawal symptoms become too severe, doctors can prescribe a medication that will help alleviate drug cravings, so the other symptoms will die down too.
Inpatient and Outpatient Treatment
Patients who are cleared from detox are now ready to enter inpatient treatment. This type of treatment is done through a program called RTC (Residential Treatment Center). RTC is full of different types of therapies that help patients to uncover facts about their addiction while also giving the tools needed to help with distorted thinking (which can lead to drug use). RTC uses a specific type of therapy called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to help with changing the way the brain works. Distorted thinking is a very negative thinking pattern and CBT teaches people how to think more positivity by first defining what negative thinking looks like.
RTC takes place in the facility for an average of 28 days but some patients may end up staying for a longer period of time such as 30, 60 or 90 days. For patients who continue to relapse, doctors may recommend that they stay for 4-6 months to get the help needed to make a recovery without relapse.
For RTC, patients are also placed in different types of therapy. One of those types is group therapy which is nice for the patient since there are many people in group who are all facing the same battle with addiction. Group is also a good place to make a friend or two. There are some other types of therapies that are very helpful to such as art, yoga, meditation and music therapy. These types of therapy allow a patient to relieve some stress and express themselves. It can be hard for the brain to be working all the time and by allowing patients to have this down time, it can allow time for patients to soak in what they have already be taught.
Patients are also taught about trigger points and the coping skills that are necessary in order to manage those trigger points.
When a patient has been through RTC and is ready to move on to the next level, they are recommended for PHP (Partial Hospitalization Program). This program is designed to help a patient transition from rehab to the outside world. It takes place at the facility for 6 hours a day, 5-7 times a week and trigger points and coping skills are addressed more. Group therapy is also more of a focus point than individual therapy during PHP.
After which, a patient is ready for the final leg of treatment called IOP (Intensive Outpatient Program). This program takes place in the facility for 3 hours a day, 3 days a week and is largely focused on group therapy. IOP is an introductory phase to support groups which become a huge part of aftercare, the next step in the rehab process.
Aftercare is taught at the beginning of inpatient treatment because the staff at a rehab facility want their patients to succeed. Therefore, they start teaching about aftercare during this time so that patients will know what they need to do once they have been released from rehab.
Aftercare starts by signing up and attending a support group. People in a support group support each other on their journey to a drug-free life. While there is no cure for drug addiction or alcoholism, people can become sober and stay that way through the help of a support group. Sponsors are available in these groups as well which will help patients to stay sober when all they want to do is take drugs or drink.
Aftercare continues by taking care of oneself. Eating healthy and getting some physical exercise, even if its just a thirty-minute walk-a-day can help people to feel better which leads to a happier and heathier mindset. That is vital for a person to stay on track with their sobriety.
Aftercare continues to grow by people staying active. When there is no time to sit around and think, the temptation of drugs does not have room to grow. By doing something enjoyable, drugs are a distant past. There are many hobbies to choose from and it doesn’t matter what one chooses to do as long as it is positive, it’s fun and it keeps a person busy.
Drug addiction and alcoholism are both major problems in the United States. Drugs are killing thousands of people a year while alcohol is killing hundreds of people. The generation growing up behind ours is watching a society that is destroying itself and therefore, they are choosing to do the same thing. That can’t be allowed to happen. Children and teens need to be taught through example. They need to see that there is a problem and that adults are choosing to stand up and say that there is a problem. They need to know that drug rehab is an answer by more people attending the program. Drugs are the problem and education/awareness can help to prevent it while rehab can help to destroy the negative impact that drugs has on society.
If you or someone you know is addicted to drugs or an alcoholic, get help. Drugs are costing people their lives and that’s not replaceable. By reaching out and getting help, lives can be saved. Drug rehab has a proven success rate and people need to be aware of that too. Take the time to look at some statistics, the numbers are clear. Rehab does work as long as people are willing to reach out and grab it.