Wednesday, July 17, 2019

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Clarksville, Tennessee

A Little Bit About Clarksville

Clarksville, a city located in Montgomery County is the fifth largest city in Tennessee and has a population of 146,806. Nashville, Memphis, Knoxville and Chattanooga account for the first four largest cities. Clarksville, named after General George Rogers Clark, a Revolutionary War hero is full of history, culture and art. The city is home to The Leaf Chronicle, the oldest newspaper in the state.

There are many great places to see around the city of Clarksville and many of them are historic landmarks such as Fort Defiance, a fort built during the American Civil War which can also been seen in the city. As well the L&N Train Station, a restored railroad station. The Customs House Museum and Cultural Center, the second largest general museum in the state is a popular tourist attraction. Touring Clarksville, will also bring along well-known sites like the Dunbar Cave State Park, a 110-acre park that rests around the 280th largest cave complex in the world, Dunbar Cave. Limestone bedrock, springs and sinkholes are just a few structures seen in and around the cave.

The Affects of Drugs on the City

While Clarksville is full of a lot of great historical landmarks, the city is struggling just like many other large American cities. The struggle comes from drug addiction, specifically opioid addiction. The state of Tennessee is grappling with a drug crisis and from what researchers say, the problem doesn’t appear to be getting any better. In fact, researchers suggest the problem may only get worse. Tennessee is ranked as the second (per capita) for prescription drug abuse in the United States.

The problem with drugs stems from different factors but two large factors are unemployment and poor mental health. Unemployment rates are harsh all across the country and Clarksville’s was 4.0 percent for 2017. Both unemployment and poor mental health within in big city ultimately leads to drug usage, which in turns leads to a higher crime rating. Clarksville scores a 16 out of 100 for the safest cities in America. In 2016, the city had several criminal acts that involved prescription pills: 57 home thefts (visitors stealing of unsecured prescriptions), 42 residential robberies, 20 vehicle burglaries, 3 pharmacy robberies and 1 attempted pharmacy robbery.

Opioid addiction is becoming a pandemic in America and fatal overdoses are adding up by the thousands per year. In 2016, seven deaths were recorded in Clarksville as accidental overdoses from Ambien, hydrocodone, diazepam (Valium), oxycodone, morphine and codeine.

Researchers are finding that doctors prescribing patients with prescriptions that they don’t really need is a huge factor that is leading to opioid addiction. In 2016, 87 out of 100 patients were prescribed pain medication, 88.7 In 2015 and 95.8 in 2014 in Clarksville. In Tennessee, more than 7.8 opioid prescriptions were prescribed in 2015. In 2016, 1,631 people died for drug overdoses in the state, an increase from the 1,451 overdose deaths in 2015.

While drugs do affect many adults, teens are doing drugs too. In fact, nearly 7 percent of teens ages 12-17 years old have abused prescription drugs. Teens are also fatally overdosing. Babies are being born with a dependency to drugs due to their mother’s usage. Once a baby has been born, the drug supply that they have become dependent on is cut off which causes the painful process of withdrawal for the baby. This is known as Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) and every 25 minutes, there is a baby born with the syndrome in America. Tennessee has a rate three times higher for babies born with an opioid addiction than any other place in the United States.

A Hopeful Effort

The Clarksville Police Department is hopeful in their effort to combat prescription drug abuse by teaming up with a program called “Count it, Lock it, Drop it.” This program is designed to spread awareness about the harsh reality of prescription abuse. The Clarksville Police Department recommends that people who are taking medication to count their meds every two weeks to make sure none have gone missing (Count it). Also, it is recommended to keep medication in a safe place or a lock box where others will not think to look (Lock it). If prescriptions are no longer needed or out of date, one can drop them in a drop box, there have been several placed around the city by the police department (Drop it).

Spreading Awareness

Researchers have suggested that opioid addiction will only get worse by this time next year and that many more people will lose their life due to a fatal overdose. Spreading awareness about drug addiction is the best solution to this growing problem. Many times, people say, “I do not do drugs, I just take pills.” This is the message that is also being picked up by the teen generation. They also believe that since they are not abusing drugs like cocaine, crack or heroin that they are not really doing drugs. Awareness needs to be shown to teens who have this idea in their heads because prescription pain pills are responsible for an outstanding number of overdose deaths across America. Teens are buying pain pills from other teens, stealing it from a parent or family member and/or abusing their own prescriptions.

Spreading awareness should start at a young age. Drug education was once taught in schools, but it no longer taught in many schools due to funding and controversy. However, there is a growing need for children and teens to learn about drug and repercussions of abusing drugs. Without awareness, children and teens are walking blindly in the world and that road is taking them straight to drugs. Education about drugs doesn’t prevent every child or teen from experimenting or abusing drugs but raising awareness will at least give them a fighting chance.

Awareness means supplying enough information that children and teens can take the information given to them and make a better decision. Sure, some children and teens will decide to try drugs anyways and others will feel peer pressured into doing drugs. That doesn’t mean that awareness doesn’t work. It simply means that at the end of the day, people make up their own minds and some choose a different path. Math and science is taught in schools and not everyone grows up to use those topics in their daily lives. It doesn’t mean that those topics didn’t have their own importance since many children grow up and become scientists, engineers, etc. Drug awareness is very important and should be taught at a young age.

Social media is a huge cause of concern when it comes to drug use because kids are trying everything that they see online. Take the Tide Pod challenge for instance. A challenge popped up online earlier this year that had children eating Tide pods (laundry detergent) to see how long they could hold it in their mouths. Whose to say that drug challenges won’t pop up next? The Choke Game became a big challenge during it’s time and many children lost their lives to it. A drug challenge could be imminent. Raising awareness and educating children about drugs could provide a solution. When people know better, they do better.

Thoughts About Drug Rehabilitation

In today’s society, someone is either doing drugs or knows someone who is. The opioid epidemic does not play favoritism and therefore, everyone is a target for at least becoming dependent on prescription medications. Unfortunately, far too many people are becoming full blown addicts. If a person sees another person abusing drugs, something should be said to help them stop. This is awareness too. A lot of people do not understand how addicted they have become. People start out taking a few pills and suddenly and without realizing it, they are downing bottles of pills in a day. The first thing that helpful family and friends should do is get their loves one or friend to see there is a problem. Using guilt to show this to them is not the way to go so words like “if you love me” or “think about your children” are not going to be helpful. In fact, phrases like these have just provided a reason for people to resist rehab and continue to use drugs. Instead, it’s important to help create a safe environment for one to come to the realization that there is a problem.

Once that realization has been made, they will be accepting to rehab. Since people are different however, some people are stubborn and will stick with their viewpoint of “not having a problem”. If a loved one or friend is accepting, calming their anxiety about drug rehabilitation can be extremely rewarding toward everyone involved.

The drug rehabilitation process starts off with an assessment (pre-intake) and an intake. These two are the first stepping stones because they provide the medical staff of the facility with all the information needed to treat a patient. They ask the tough questions about medical, mental and drug history. The intake process consists of a physical exam and some lab tests (like a urine test) is administered to find out what drugs are in the system. Patients are admitted to the facility during the intake which typically means that patients will be provided with a list of items that are not permitted in the facility. Payment arrangements are also made during this time as well.

Fear Of Detoxification

One big issue that people become anxious about when considering rehab is detox. It’s not the detox as much as it is the withdrawal symptoms that come from detox. These symptoms can cause pain, massive headaches, tremors, paranoid thoughts, nausea and a mental or nervous breakdown in some people. Some people have violent outbursts and others have suicidal thoughts. It truly can be a miserable experience to endure. Detox is important to recovery because a person cannot recover if they have drugs in their system. It’s used to cleanse the body of all drugs. Since the body and brain are heavily reliant on the effects of their desired drugs, they are not going to give it up without a fight. Therefore, a person’s mind and body are held prisoner by drugs and detox is a way for one to break free.

While detox can bring on a certain amount of anxiety when considering drug rehabilitation, it is unavoidable when a person desires sobriety. Each person that walks into a drug rehab center is there for the same purpose, to rid their lives of drugs. While each person is there for the same reason however, it doesn’t mean that each person will heal the same and it also does not mean that people will detox the same. Withdrawal symptoms are dependent on many different factors.

  • How long has a person been taking their desired drug?
  • Are there other drugs that have been ingested?
  • Is there a long history of drug use?
  • Does the user also drink alcohol? If so, how much?
  • Does the user have any mental health disorders to consider?
  • Is there a history of addiction in the user’s family?

These are all important factors and will define whether or not a person has an easy detox or a bad one. Having said that, there are medications that a doctor can prescribe to help alleviate symptoms and decrease cravings. These have been helpful in many ways but there is still a possibility of overdosing on them.

Detox helps to ready the body for the future of recovery and without it, a person lessens their chances of a long-term recovery and increases their chances for a relapse.

Concerns About Treatment

Another concern that many people have is about inpatient treatment. Patients feel anxious about having to stay in a different place that isn’t home. This is a very understandable concern especially when there is already some anxiety about detox. For patients who are recommended for inpatient treatment, also know as RTC, there is nothing to be concerned about. Treatment centers are designed to be non-bias, encouraging and helpful in every way. RTC (Residential Treatment Center) is a program designed to help patients with their recovery efforts. It uses a series of different therapies that help a person addicted to drugs to find out more about their addiction as a whole. RTC shouldn’t fuel nervous thoughts because it’s actually a very calming program for many people. Group therapy is a huge part of RTC and there have been so many people who have built life-long friendships with others in the program.

The therapy that is offered in RTC is meant to help provide one with answers while also giving them skills that can be used in the future. Trigger points is just one thing that is addressed in RTC. Trigger points are small sections of time that can cause a person to become emotional, depressed or even angry. It is during these times that doing drugs sounds the most tempting. RTC teaches coping skills that can be used to help avoid the use of drugs. Coping skills can be anything that is healthy and stops a person from turning to drugs. This could be exercising, yoga, drawing, painting or even meditating and all of these are used in RTC as ways to help people express their feelings in artful ways while also healing.

Many people want to choose outpatient treatment over inpatient treatment but a doctor has the final say when it comes to what a patient needs. Inpatient treatment, RTC takes place in a facility for at least 28 days. There are some situations that require a patient to stay longer such as for 30, 60 or even 90 days. Some facilities want patients to stay as long as 6 months but this is generally for patients who keep relapsing after they have been to rehab many times.

Outpatient treatment is much different. Therapy is involved in each stage of treatment because it’s a huge part of recovery, both individual and group. Typically, when a person is released from RTC, they are recommended for PHP (Partial Hospitalization Programs). However, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes, a patient isn’t recommended for RTC but for PHP instead. It all depends on a person’s situation and as stated earlier, those situations change from person to person. If a person is recommended for PHP, they will be responsible for attending a program at the facility that takes place 5-7 days a week for 6 hours a day. PHP is about helping a person manage their addiction through more individual and group therapies. However, there is more of an emphasis on using coping skills to cope with trigger points. PHP is centered around the ability to manage one’s addiction since being released from RTC. Typically, this program takes place when one has been released from RTC but is staying in a halfway or a sober living house. This isn’t always the case though.

The last type of treatment that a person usually goes through when they are completing a drug rehabilitation process is called IOP (Intensive Outpatient Program). IOP takes place at the facility just like the other two programs. Alternatively, the program can be setup in a different facility as well. IOP is similar to PHP in the area of therapy, but IOP focus more on group therapy. This program takes place 3 days a week for 3 hours a day. Coping skills and trigger points are still addressed but patients are also talking about how they manage their addiction, about drug cravings and any possible moments of relapse. IOP is an introductory phase to support groups, which becomes very important once a person has completed all three treatment programs.

Anxiety About Flying Solo

Flying solo is also the aftercare step of a drug rehabilitation process. Aftercare is creating a positive way of life that doesn’t result in a relapse. This includes knowing one’s limits. Sometimes patients just are not ready to live on their own yet. For this, halfway houses and sober living homes are designed with that thought in mind and some patients find solace in these homes. They also make friends and find jobs as well. Both of these are very important during recovery.

Support groups are important during recovery too and honestly, they will be a part of one’s life now. Staying sober is a lifetime gig. There will never be a moment when one can say, “I am cured of my addiction”. Addiction is a temptation that limits a person’s ability to ever be cured. However, staying sober for life is possible with the right support system and more people find that in a support group. Support groups are filled with people who are currently battling the same thing the other people in that room are. No one else can empathize with an ex-addict as much as another ex-addict can. Support groups are the very backbone to sobriety just like detox is the backbone to rehabilitation. Staying sober starts by having a support system that is encouraging.

Staying on track with one’s sobriety also means staying busy. Many ex-addicts find comfort in an array of different hobbies. Hobbies include: bowling, restoring cars, writing, reading, drawing, playing board games, playing video games, playing sports, taking a cooking class, etc. Anything that is positive and keeps a person from turning toward drugs should be implemented into a person’s daily life.

Drug addiction, specifically opioid addiction is causing a lot of harm in America. People take a few pills for various reasons and before they know it, they just can’t stop. Some people take a few pills to get them through a tough day and again, before they know it, they just can’t stop. It’s a problem that isn’t fixing itself and its steadily growing worse. People are dying, more specifically, children and teens are dying from fatal overdoses. Sadly, there is not enough awareness about drugs and too much freedom in social media where kids are learning about the craziest new trend instead of how harmful prescription pain pills can be. It’s time for a change.