A Closer Look at Substance Abuse and Addiction in Akron, Ohio
Akron is regarded as the fifth largest city in Ohio. It has an estimated population of 197,859 people. The city has a median household income of $51,598 and an unemployment rate of 5.2%. It boasts of having some of the best airports, railroads and freeways in the United States. However, despite the economic progress it has been making this city is dealing with a substance abuse epidemic that is threatening to reverse the gains it has made. The local police department has consistently released reports indicating that over 200 people are admitted into emergency rooms due to substance overdose each month. As part of the greater Ohio, this city forms part of the statistics of drug related deaths that have been put at 1050 people in 2016 alone.
The rising rate of drug use can be attributed to a number of things including the fact that the railroads, airports and road networks make it easier for traffickers to move their consignments. It is worth pointing out that these drugs can be sold at just about any rate. Substances such as cocaine and heroin can go for as little as $2. What makes them even more dangerous is that no one on the streets knows the exact content of the package they buy which is why a lot of people end up overdosing. Even though the police are doing their best to arrest lawbreakers in this regard a lot still needs to be done.
Most Commonly Used and Abused Substances in Akron
A closer look at some of the most commonly used and abused substances in Akron is key to understanding how they work and affect the local population.
This substance is made from the resin of the poppy plant. It can sometimes be referred to as diamorphine. On the streets it may be referred to by a number of different names including snow, whiteball, skunk, chiva, sack, number 3 and smack. While in its pure form it is available as a white powder. It may be available in rose gray, brown or black colors after being mixed with other substances. Users commonly take it by diluting in a liquid and injecting it into the veins. It can also be taken by way of smoking, inhaling as vapor and sniffing.
Individuals wrongfully use this substance for recreational purposes. After taking heroin users often get a euphoric effect that may be characterized by relaxation and feelings of joy. During this rush people go through a peaceful state where they do not have a single care and all their problems seem to fade away. The downside is that the euphoric effects soon fade away and all the user is left with are devastating consequences. Some short term effects of heroin use include sedation, drowsiness, lethargy and reduced sensation of pain. The long term effects of using heroin include the following.
- Damaged skin due to frequent scratching
- Vulnerability to diseases and infections due to weakened immune system
- Poor dental health
- Damage to nasal tissues especially for those who sniff heroin
- Weakened or partially paralysed muscles as a result of frequent injections
- Poor appetite and malnutrition
- Extreme constipation
- Decrease in sexual functioning
- Addiction to the substance
- Damage to internal organs
- Death due to overdose
Alcohol is a legally and socially accepted beverage which is why it is widely used in Akron. Some of the slang names used to refer to this drink include juice, hard stuff, brew, booze, hooch, suds and draft. Alcohol is basically taken by way of drinking. Consuming alcohol responsibly is not dangerous. However, drinking too much alcohol may result in a variety of complications. Some of the short term effects of taking alcohol include slurred speech, short term memory lapse, diarrhea, vomiting and headaches. People who keep drinking too much alcohol over the long term are likely to experience the following complications.
- High blood pressure
- Heightened risk of suffering a stroke
- Damage to the liver
- Suppression of the immune system making users vulnerable to disease and infections
- Development of chronic cardiac problems
- Damage to the heart and kidneys
- Alcohol dependence
- Death due to too much alcohol in the system
This substance is made from the dried leaves, stems and flowers of the cannabis plant. It may be taken through a variety of methods with the most common being smoking. Some people may brew it as tea or mix it up in food. The substance has a unique reaction depending on the individual that takes it, method of taking and the amount that is used. Generally people that use marijuana become relaxed and experience feelings of happiness. Alternative names for this substance include pot, weed, ganja, dragon, cheeba, chronic, bammy and blanket.
The substance has over the past few years become legalized in several states which is why it is gaining prominence when it comes to use. There are restrictions that are in place to govern cultivation, use, sale and possession. People under the age of 21 are not allowed to use it. Taking it in public is also forbidden. Here are some of the negative effects of taking too much marijuana
- A reduction in intelligence quotient for long term users
- Poor performance in school and at work
- Antisocial behaviors that may include lying and stealing
- Financial difficulties
- Violence against loved ones
- Damage to internal organs
This is a powerful substance that acts on the body within a few moments of ingestion. It is usually available in the form of a white powder. Some manufacturers of the substance make it available in the form of a crystal that looks like a rock. Individuals usually take this substance by dissolving it in a liquid and injecting into the veins. Some people may smoke or snort it when it is in the form of a powder.
After ingestion users get a feeling of euphoria and a boost in energy levels. This is why it is sometimes regarded as a party drug. After the initial effect subsidies individuals are likely to experience vertigo, paranoia, an increase in heart rate, raised body temperature and blood pressure. Below are some of the effects of taking cocaine.
- Delirium or psychosis
- Extreme depression that may sometimes be characterized by suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts
- Self harm
- Mood disturbances
- Infections and abscess due to frequent injections
- Weight loss due to malnutrition
- Antisocial behaviors such as stealing and lying
- Risky behavior including sharing of needles and having unprotected sex
- Respiratory complications if the substance is continuously smoked
- Destruction of nasal tissues in case of sniffing
- Damage to internal organs
- Death due to overdose
Why People Might Use
From Highland Square to Northwest Akron and Kenmore teenagers and adults are battling with substance abuse and addiction. A look at some of the reasons why these people start using drugs can be key to understanding what exactly is happening and how to help them.
Past trauma – there are quite a number of people that take to substance use as a way of dealing with the psychological scars of a past traumatic event. People who may have experienced issues such as domestic violence or sexual abuse tend to use substance to numb their painful memories. Such people may not have received professional counseling and are therefore not yet healed from the events of the past.
Peer pressure – most teenagers start using substance simply because their friends are already doing it. It is difficult to keep company with people who are using heroin or cocaine and resist the pressure that is likely to arise. There are also a number of young people that believe drinking alcohol or taking drugs enhances their stature.
Curiosity – some people start using drugs because they are curious about its effects. Such people may have seen relatives, friends or movie characters using drugs and having a good time. This compels them to try out available substances. The result is that they may become addicted to substance after a few instances of use.
Poverty – individuals that are unable to find meaningful employment for one reason or another may resort to substance use as a way of escaping from the reality of poverty. These individuals are unable to raise enough money for things like vacations, outings or shopping. They therefore opt for spending the little amount they have on drugs
To have fun – there are a lot of people that believe the only way to truly have fun is to get high first. Such people end up taking alcohol or other drugs whenever they want to party. Unknown to them is the fact that frequent drinking of alcohol or taking drugs leads to adverse effects.
Boredom – there are people that take drugs because they are bored. This is why it is encouraged that you keep yourself busy at all times. Watching an interesting movie, visiting friends or engaging in physical activities may be good ways to pass time and avoid boredom.
Risk Factors Associated with Substance Abuse
Friends – individuals with friends that are known to drink alcohol or use other types of drugs are at a greater risk of using drugs themselves. This is because it is easy for a friend to convince his or her colleagues to get into the habit.
Family of users – individuals that come from families of drug users are exposed to substance on a daily basis. This makes it possible for such people to have access to drugs and use them. It is worth pointing out that a teen that has seen a parent or older sibling use drugs may feel that the habit is not dangerous and is in fact normal.
Poverty – people that are unable to secure well paying jobs or those living below the poverty line are more likely to start using and abusing drugs. These people often engage in substance use as a way of escaping from the reality of their problems. Cheap drugs are also the only option they have when it comes to having fun.
Lack of supervision – teenagers that are left unsupervised for prolonged periods of time may be vulnerable to wrong influences that may lead to drug use and abuse. This is why parents are advised to keep an eye out for their teenagers. When going for business trips or vacations young people should be left under the supervision of a responsible guardian.
Past trauma – individuals that have had traumatizing experiences in the past may start using substance as a way of dealing with the emotional and psychological scarring that may have taken place. This is why it is a good idea to go for counseling or therapy in case you have experienced things such as domestic violence or rape.
How to Tell if Someone is Using
During the early stages of drug use it may not be easy to tell if someone is using. However, with a keen eye and special attention to some of the tell tale signs you can be able to know if a loved one is using drugs.
Unusual odors – one of the first signs of drug use involves unusual odors on clothes or breath. This in itself is not proof of use but simply a sign that should be considered together with others.
Secretive behavior – people who are using substance may not want other family members to know which is why they may become secretive. They tend to isolate themselves from other members of the family unlike in the past.
Sudden change in friends – individuals that have only started using drugs may change the group of friends they hang out with. This is because they want to hang out with people that are also using drugs. Users may also change their hangout places and lose interest in their hobbies.
Coming home at odd hours – users may start coming back home during odd hours. Some people may come back earlier than usual so that they can use their substance of choice. There are also those who may stay out late to avoid being confronted.
Unusual need for money – individuals that have become accustomed to substance use may develop an unusual need for money. These individuals may sometimes become aggressive in a quest to be given some money.
Signs of intoxication – individuals that are under the influence of substance often exhibit signs that are quite telling. Some of these signs include slurred speech, dilated pupils, impaired walking, blacking out and spacing out.
Understanding the Process of Addiction
The process of substance addiction is not the same for everyone. However, there are certain stages that just about everyone goes through. Here is a look at some of the things that happen from the start of drug use to addiction.
This is the stage whereby individuals are made aware of the substance and its effects. This may happen when they observe friends or family members using the substance. Some people are introduced to drugs through watching movies or listening to songs that talk about the effects of the particular substance.
During this point individuals have become captivated by the substance and its effects. They are extremely curious about it which is why they may try to use it albeit in small quantities. Individuals that enjoy the experience they get during this stage are likely to use the substance again in the future.
- Regular use
Having enjoyed the experience from previous use individuals may start using substance on a regular basis. This may take place in the evening after school or work. Some people may use the substance every weekend as a way of having fun while off from work or school.
- Problem use
At this stage individuals are starting to get out of hand when it comes to substance use. They may start increasing the quantity of the substance to achieve the effects they want. Some people start taking the substance even during odd hours such as in the morning. Individuals at this stage become tolerant to the substance which is why they need to increase the amounts they take or mix it up with another equally powerful substance.
- Substance dependence
At this point users have been taking too much substance which is why the body has become too accustomed to it that failure to take some amount of the substance leads to withdrawal effects. Withdrawal may be mild or severe depending on the substance that is used and the amount of time through which it has been used. Here are some of the common withdrawal effects:
- Muscle pain
- Excessive hunger
- Crying and agitation
- Cold chills
- Substance addiction
Having been using substance for too long individuals finally become addicted. This means they are physically and psychologically compelled to use substance. Individuals that are addicted to substance are not able to break free of the habit which is why it is advisable that a close family member or friend seeks help on their behalf. Confronting such a person may not work and can only worsen the situation.
How to Get Treatment for Addiction
Studies show that over 23 million Americans are addicted to drugs and alcohol. But only 11% of these individuals receive professional treatment. Some of the reasons why people fail to get treatment include:
- Lack of awareness regarding treatment options
- Inability to raise enough funds for treatment
- Fear of being arrested
- Denial or failure to recognize that addiction is a disease that must be treated
- Fear of being embarrassed due to addiction issues
If you know of anyone battling addiction you can help them by reaching out for professional assistance. All you have to do is make a phone call through local drug abuse hotlines and you will receive instructions on how to go about the whole process. You can also find help by talking to a local social worker, religious or community leader. Once the user agrees to professional treatment they may be enrolled to an inpatient or outpatient program.
Inpatient treatment – this is treatment offered to patients who are required to stay at the rehabilitation facility for the duration of the program. It is commonly recommended for people who are severely affected by substance use and addiction. Some of its advantages include constant monitoring of the patient, staying in an environment that is free of substances that may lead to relapse and finding support from people with similar experiences.
Outpatient treatment – this refers to care that is given to patients who are not required to stay at the rehabilitation facility. However, these individuals attend certain treatment sessions at the rehabilitation facility. This arrangement is often recommended for individuals that are not extremely affected by drug use and addiction. Some advantages of outpatient care include being free to continue with daily routine and paying lower rates for treatment.
What is involved with addiction treatment?
Medicinal provisions – individuals that have been affected by opportunistic diseases and infections are provided with medicine that can manage their situation. This may include oral medicine and injections. Some of the conditions that may be treated include hepatitis and HIV.
Detoxification – to ensure that the patient regains mental and physical health detoxification must take place. To hasten the rate at which the body gets rid of substance doctors may recommend a specific diet, provide medicine and give instructions on ideal exercises to engage in.
Counselling – patients are required to go through counselling sessions to help them resolve past issues that may be triggering their drug use. They are also equipped with the skills and knowledge to detect dangerous thought patterns and how to break free of them.
Managing withdrawal – because withdrawal can sometimes be quite unpleasant caregivers try to reduce the severity of the effects by way of making the patient feel comfortable.
Support groups – while undergoing treatment patients may be encouraged to form support groups that consist of people with similar experiences. Members share their challenges and triumphs in an open manner. This helps each one learn from the mistakes and victories of other people. These groups usually remain intact even after completion of treatment.