Drugs and Treatment in Eugene, Oregon
While Eugene is marked as one of the best cities to live in America, it is also facing a problem that many other cities are facing as well, drugs. Oregon has been marked as a leader for the non-medical use of prescription pain medication. The state is also marked high on the list for heavy marijuana consumption. In just one month in 2016-462,000 people 12 or older admitted to using an illicit drug. That is 1 in 7 state residents in Oregon. In 2016, 159,000 people admitted to using non-medical pain medication and 16,000 of those people were under the age of 18. Nearly two million used alcohol within the same year and 117,000 of them were under 21. The use of methamphetamine (meth) also rose by 14 percent which marked an all-time high since 2000. Meth, prescription opioids and heroin were responsible for the most deaths, in that order. Heroin is popular drug of choice in many cities because it is so cheap, $5 a bag. In the city of Eugene, alcohol drinking is a major issue. In 2016, Eugene became known as a city with one of the highest rates of excessive drinking at 22 percent (the state of Oregon is only at 19 percent). Lane County has a fatal overdose rate of 15 out of 100,000 residents.
The reason for drug use in Eugene has to do with crime rate and unemployment issues just like many other cities across America. When people do not have a steady gig such as school or work, people become depressed and start to feel bad about where they are in their lives. This reason alone is why many people choose to turn to drugs. Drugs often lead to more crime in city but crime can lead to drugs. People who are victimized turn to drugs as a way to cope with the emotional or physical pain that has been inflicted on them by someone else. It’s a domino effect.
A Little Bit About the City
Eugene, the third most populated city in Oregon has a population of 163,460 and is home to The University of Oregon. Located in Lane County, the city is known for its focus on arts and nature living qualities. Tourists can be found perusing the Asian collections at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art and the Museum of Natural and Cultural History. Nature lovers enjoy Eugene for its natural habitats that are great for jogging, rafting, rock-climbing, kayaking and bicycling. The city’s official slogan is “A Great City for the Arts and Outdoors.” Nature and animal lovers will also enjoy a tour around the Cascades Raptor Center, a nature center and wildlife hospital for raptor birds. One can see eagles, hawks, owls and other birds that cannot be released back into the wild.
History buffs will love that fact that Eugene is named after Eugene Franklin Skinner. Skinner arrived to the city in 1846 with 1200 other colonists. He was advised by Kalapuyans to build on high ground due to flooding issues. Skinner built the first Anglo cabin on an isolated hill that is now known as Skinner’s Butte. The cabin was used as a trading post and in 1850 it was registered as an official post office. A replica of the cabin can be seen in the city.
A Call for Professional Addiction Counselors
With the introduction of opioid addiction within the past decade, the need for addiction counselors has increased. Because of the high demand, many are overworked around the United States. Oregon is feeling the strain as well. Since a single addiction counselor can only help a certain amount of people at one given time, an estimated 316,000 go without treatment in Oregon. The numbers in Oregon and Eugene are higher than the rest of the country for people who go without help because the number of people who are addicted to drugs is substantial.
Other states are facing the same problem, just not as bad as Oregon.
How Eugene is Taking Action
In May 2018, Eugene will host the Oregon Conference on Opioids, Pain and Addiction. The hope for this conference is for the state of Oregon to reduce the amount of prescriptions written and to set standard guidelines for the use of these drugs in Oregon.
Eugene police have also increased their efforts for cutting down on gang activity and to stop dangerous gang members, which are transferring from Portland. They come to the city of Eugene to hide out, bringing violent crimes (shootings) and drugs with them.
Risk Factors and Causes of Drug Abuse
- Genetics: This is a common risk factor when it comes to drug or alcohol addiction. Addiction does run in family genes but advanced screening has been used to discover the gene mutations early on. Having said that, just because a person has this gene doesn’t necessarily mean that they will become addicted to drugs or alcohol. Addiction is influenced by other factors as well.
- Environmental: Physical, sexual and emotional abuse/trauma play a huge role in addiction. Exposure to pop culture outlets which encourage substance abuse is also a risk factor.
- Psychological: Stress, depression, anxiety, personality and eating disorders can all lead to addiction.
- Early Age: A person’s life early on sets the foundation for a person’s life in their future. If drugs or alcohol are abused early on, chances are high for that person to have addiction tendencies their entire life.
Signs of Drug Abuse and Addiction
- Dilated pupils or glassy eyes
- Energetic all the time
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Slurred speech
- Bloodshot or watery eyes
- Tired all the time
- Changes in hygiene or appearance
- Depressed or anxious
- Changes in personality, behavior or demeanor
- Pale or flushed face
- Clenching of the jaw
- Sleeping problems
How to Prevent Drug Use and Overdose
- Volunteer: There are ways to help with war on drugs and volunteering is a great way to help. There are many people who do not have a single other person to talk to through their recovery. They do not have friends or family. Volunteering can give people support and encouragement that someone does care about them and wants to see them succeed in their recovery.
- Encourage Rehabilitation: It can be extremely hard at times to intervene and encourage a loved one to get help. It’s disheartening to see our loved ones going through a hardship but rehabilitation is necessary where drugs or alcohol are concerned. Talk your loved one about rehabilitation, but try to stay away from negative words that might cause them to flee.
- Negative Words
- Instead, positive words can be used:
- Risky use
- Alcohol and Drug used
- Medication assisted treatment
- Misused of drugs
- Negative Words
- Learn about Drug Rehabilitation: When encouraging someone about drug rehab, you want to have as many facts as possible because questions will be asked about the process as a whole. Make sure you have some answers ready. There will also be a lot of anxiety about rehab so providing some answers can help ease their tension.
- Raise Awareness: Awareness about the dangers of drugs and alcohol is very important. Many teens are abusing pain medications because they believe that since they are prescribed that they aren’t dangerous. Awareness needs to be spread to show that prescription pain medications are very addictive and dangerous. By the time a person becomes addicted, it’s too hard for that person to backtrack and turn away from drugs. Awareness needs to be spread early on.
- Safe Storage and Disposal: If there are unused prescriptions lying around, teens and those with an addiction are going to find them and take them. There are plenty of drop boxes available to put unused prescriptions into. For used prescriptions, it’s important to keep a regular count on them and lock them up when they are not being used.
- Join a Support Group: Support groups provide a lot of advice and encouragement. There are many different types of support groups available for different purposes. There are even ones to help support those who are supporting a loved on through drug or alcohol rehabilitation.
The Cycle of Addiction
The cycle of addiction is important to learn because a lot more goes into addiction than what people are aware of. Addiction always starts with initial use, this is the part of the cycle where drugs are introduced. Not everyone who tries drugs will becomes addicted however. For those who experiment with drugs a few times or refill a pain prescription, knowing they no longer need it, this is called abuse. After abuse comes tolerance which forms when a person who is using drugs had to up their dosage in order to get the same high as before. Dependence happens next because now a person is unable to function in everyday life without the use of drugs. Addiction happens to many people and it forms when a person starts to have withdrawal symptoms when they are unable to use drugs. Relapse happens where addiction happens, as long as a person gets treatment. When a person has become sober, a relapse happens when they choose to do drugs again.
What Drug Rehabilitation Looks Like
When a person decides to go to rehab or has been ordered by the court system to attend rehab, the first step is an assessment. An assessment, also called a pre-intake is a quick Q&A to get to know a new patient and to find out what sort of treatment might be best for them. Questions about current drug use, living conditions and mental stability will be asked. When a patient is ready to be admitted into the facility, an intake will be taken. An intake, sometimes rolled up with an assessment in one smooth procedure, is a more detailed Q&A. An intake will ask about drug, mental and medical history (family and individual). The intake wants to know a patient’s back story. This will be helpful in deciding exactly what sort of treatment the patient will benefit from the most. Once that has been decided, a patient is fully admitted and given a list of items that are not permitted in the facility.
Some common non-permitted items:
- Revealing clothing
- Bed linens/pillow
- Over-the-counter medication
Financial arrangements are also made at this time. For patients who are unable to pay, sometimes installment payments can be arranged. Many times employee insurance will take care of drug and alcohol rehabilitation.
Detoxification, better known as detox is the next step in the rehabilitation process. Detox is necessary because drugs need to be cleansed from the body for treatment to begin. Without doing so, the drugs are still in control. Detox allows the body to be cleansed of the drugs so that healing can begin. Patients are also more rational when they are off drugs. During this process, withdrawal symptoms typically arise which is why many people feel so anxious about rehab.
- Muscle pain
- Stomach pain
- Drug cravings
- Possible seizures
- Itchy skin
These symptoms usually start between 6-12 hours after a patient has taken their last dosage. Many times doctors will decide that weening a patient from a drug in the best course of action and will prescribed a very low dose of prescription drugs like Methadone. It is not recommended to do a cold-turkey detox. Detox can take 5-7 days.
Detoxing cleanses the body but inpatient treatment cleanses the mind. Both are important in setting a patient up for a successful road to recovery. Inpatient treatment, also called RTC, (Residential Treatment Center) takes place in the facility for a period of 28 days, on average. Sometimes the treatment period can last longer-30, 60 or 90 days. It all depends on what sort of treatment is needed. Some patients are recommended for a treatment program that lasts 4-6 months because they have continuous relapses after being released.
Inpatient treatment has several different types of therapies associated with it. A patient will get to enjoy music, art, meditation and yoga therapies. Individual and group therapies are also important as well. Group therapy allows patients who are going through the same thing to talk to each other about how they feel. Some people make a friend for life in inpatient treatment. Individual therapy tries to dig into the roots of the past to find out why addiction occurred. Therapists typically used Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) in order to do this. CBT helps with distorted thinking, a negative pattern of thinking that is usually derived from a trauma one has suffered or from a bout of depression. Many times, the reason distorted thoughts begin is rooted very deeply. CBT helps to slowly clear the way.
Meditation and Yoga
These two therapies go hand-in-hand because they are all about calming the mind/body and finding inner peace. Eastern philosophy shows meditation and yoga to be a very relaxing daily practice. It is a practice that western philosophy is learning as well. Meditation helps to relax the mind while yoga helps to relax the body. Both bring inner peace. With enough meditation and yoga, it is said that a person will never feel depressed, anxious or anger.
When a patient is released from inpatient treatment, the next step is outpatient treatment. Patients are not usually ready to fly solo in their recovery and for patients who do not have a powerful support system at home they are at more of a risk for a relapse. Sober living homes are a great option for patients who still need that daily structure. Sober living homes have other residents in them and patients can rent them at a low monthly cost. It is the perfect way for a patient to have the stability that they need while trying to build a sober foundation.
Outpatient treatment starts with PHP (Partial Hospitalization Program). This program is designed to help patients to transition from life in the facility to life outside of it. PHP is a 6 hours-a-day, 5-7 day-a-week program that allows patients to attend individual and group therapy. The program helps patients to identify certain trigger points that may kick off a desire to do drugs and also teaches how to use coping skills instead of drugs.
IOP, (Intensive Outpatient Program) is the next step in outpatient treatment. This program takes place in a facility for 3 hours-a-day. 3 days-a-week and is the basically the introduction to support groups. A group of patients get together and talk about how they are dealing with life and drug cravings outside of the facility. IOP group patients are encouraged to support one another.
More on Inpatient Vs. Outpatient
Once a patient has successfully completed all three programs, they are ready to be released as a patient from the facility. Now, is the time that aftercare is really implemented into daily life. The word aftercare was most likely used in RTC, discussed further in PHP and taught religiously in IOP. Aftercare is the ability to take care of one’s self after leaving rehab.
A huge part of aftercare is about signing up and attending support groups. Please do not try to keep on the straight and narrow without having a pillar of support. Too many relapses happen by people choosing to go at it alone. Even if you leave rehab strong, support groups are too important to miss. Support groups allow people who are facing the same battle to have another person to talk to. Sponsors can be found in these groups, which are people that can be called in the middle of the night when drug cravings are at their worst. Support groups implement the 12-step program, which so many people who are recovering have found useful.
The 12-Step Program
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked him to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
- Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood him, praying only for knowledge of his will for us and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Aftercare is also about staying busy. Getting a job or going back to school are great ways to stay busy but they can feel overwhelming. Stressors can be very bad at this point since they cause a person to want to do drugs or drink. Therefore, if one must have a job then it’s important to find a hobby that is truly relaxing. Otherwise, those in recovery should fill up their time with several different hobbies in an effort to keep themselves busy. There are so many great hobbies to choose from but reading and writing work out best for those who have been to drug rehab. Granted, not every person gets joy from those things. So the sky’s the limit on hobbies!
Drugs are a huge problem in America. Too many people are dying on a daily basis due to drug overdose and most of them are dying from opioids. It’s time for change. If you or someone you love has a drug or alcohol addiction, please get help today.