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Denton, Texas Fights Drug Addiction

Like much of the United States, Denton, Texas struggles with the growing epidemic of drug addiction. Only none hundred miles from the border of Mexico, Denton, along with other Texas cities, face drug smuggling issues on a regular basis. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, illegal drugs distributed by the Sinaloa Cartel are smuggled into the U.S. through key points located along Mexico’s border with West Texas. Eventually these drugs reach into Texas counties, even those not close to the border, including Austin, Bell and Calhoun. The impact of the presence of drugs is being felt in cities like Denton. With a population of a little over 128,000, Denton has seen an uptick in heroin and other drugs. The spread of the crisis across the 26 million people of Texas has led to an increase in 911 calls for heroin overdose and need for drug treatment centers. In 2010 to 2014, about 8.6% of people aged 12 and older who were dependent on or abused illicit drugs received treatment, well below the national average of 14.1%.

Law enforcement continues to do its best recently arresting 61 ganger members and associates of the Latin Kings who were conducting the distribution of marijuana, cocaine and meth in the Austin, San Antonio and Uvalde areas.

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If you live in Denton, and have fallen victim to substance abuse don’t hesitate to seek treatment. There are enormous resources in at your disposal.

The Texas Tax Code, has even been used by law enforcement to prosecute dealers. In addition to the criminal convictions for drug possession, the tax code explores potential civil penalties. The code requires that taxes must be paid on illegal drugs, charging dealers who possess over certain amounts of drugs with tax evasion. Texas can also suspend a driver’s license for up to six months following a conviction on any violation of the Texas Controlled Substances Act. The Code of Criminal Procedure also allows law enforcement to seize any property used or intended to be used in the commission of a drug felony. This means Texas law enforcement can take cars, homes and any other belongings that are implicated in a drug crime.

Along with drug enforcement, treatment is still critical to helping towns like Denton contend with a growing crisis that affects both adults and teens alike.

Identifying Drug Addiction in Loved Ones

Knowing when drugs have taken hold of a child, spouse or friend can be determined through several factors.  Physical factors like appearance can hint at a drug problem. Behavior and dramatic changes in a person’s life can also be indicative of a looming problem with drugs.  Often confronting someone with a drug problem can be difficult because the individual may at first oppose any offering of help. Persistence is necessary to urge someone addicted to get help. Interventions are one way that are known to at least get many addicts into rehab. Often pointing out the clear signs that there is a problem can also help an addict realize a problem. They may feel normal while getting high or may not want to address their declining life until someone has taken the time to let them know that their problem is clearly evident to everyone.

Noticing the signs of addiction can be especially difficult for parents who may not want to accept that their child is suffering with a drug problem. In other instances, someone may see an adult friend’s growing addiction as being now of their business, which allows too many to not get involved. To truly help someone everyone must get involved. It can be a matter of life or death to not notice and do something about the red flags of addiction.

  • Sudden and unexpected mood swings
  • Dramatic personality changes
  • Confusion and difficulty with simple tasks
  • Incoherent speech and general difficulty to speaking
  • Neglect of personal appearance and hygiene
  • Erratic sleeping patterns, ranging from too little to too much
  • No appetite and dramatic weight loss
  • Reckless behavior
  • A distant spacey look in their eyes
  • Withdraw from family and friends into isolation
  • Neglect of financial responsibilities to the extreme
  • Negative consequences in social life including broke relationships, lost jobs and failure in school
  • Secretive behavior
  • Depression, anxiety and other apparent emotional problems
  • Physical symptoms including vomiting and nausea
  • Paranoia

Misconceptions about Drug Addiction

Incorrect assumptions made by addicts and even those who wish to help them can lead to the avoidance of any assistance. Many of these myths can be the greatest barrier to recovery. Whether an addict, or someone seeking to aid a loved one, the right information can be enlightening.

Misconception #1: Beating addiction is about will-power. Weak people are the only ones addicted.

Truth: Addiction is both a physical and psychological condition that can afflict the strongest willed people. Believing that failure to quit drugs is a weakness of will can lead to both the addict and the loved ones giving up.  Addiction, like any other medical condition requires the help of others, and in some severe addictions like heroin could lead to fatal consequences if quitting is attempted alone.

Misconception #2:   Because addiction is a disease, there is nothing anyone can do.

Truth:  Though addiction is a disease, the addict is not a passive victim.  Taking an aggressive stance on getting well with the help of rehab specialists and the support of loved ones can lead to recovery.

Misconception #3   Recovery can’t begin until the addict hits rock bottom.

Truth: Rock bottom is the last place an addict should be before recovery. There is the risk of overdose and death as addicts increase their tolerance and use of a drug.   Treatment can occur at any time during the addiction.  The sooner the better.  Catching addiction early on means faster recovery and fewer negative consequences.

Misconception #4: Addicts have to help themselves. No one else can help them. 

Truth: Other people involved in an addict’ s life can make a big difference. Urging an addict into recovery by any means necessary can hopefully get them to a point where they realize the value of sobriety.

Misconception #5: Rehab failed in the past, so why bother trying it again.

Truth: Recovery from addiction is definitely a struggle with many pitfalls. Often an addict may not embrace treatment initially, but that doesn’t mean it will not work in the future. Changes in the type of treatment may be necessary and may help lead to a successful recovery.

Misconception #6: Only some types of drugs are addictive.

Truth: Though some drugs may be more dangerous than others, addiction can still be a problem with substances like alcohol and marijuana. Often if an addict or his or her loved ones have a less concerning view of certain substances, than it gives the addiction the opportunity fester.

Insight Recovery Specialists Can Offer at Intake

Before the recovery process begins, recovery specialists during the in-take stage of treatment will conduct an in-depth evaluation of the addicted individual. During this step in the process, an addict can gain insight into what will unfold over the course of treatment as well as many important aspects of treatment that dispel misinformation. The addicted will learn:

  1. How treatment is essentially a reconditioning of the brain for sobriety over addiction. Relearning how to be sober and free of drugs is the underlying approach rehab takes.
  2. Immediacy of treatment is critical. Though there is never a point of no return, the sooner treatment is begun the better to avoid the increasing severity of addiction.
  3. Treatment is customized. Many addicted individuals think that treatment applies the same to everyone admitted. In fact, each treatment plan is customized to fit the specific needs of the addicted.
  4. Recovery goes deeper than just addiction. Because there are root causes of addiction, getting to the core of the problem becomes the primary goal of recovery specialists. Understanding why an individual is addicted is just as important as getting them off drugs.
  5. Mental health is a factor in recovery. Drugs can impact mental health and in some instances, be an underlying cause of addiction. For this reason, mental health evaluations will be made at pre-intake to understanding the mental makeup of every patient.
  6. A physical exam must take place. Much like the mental health exam, a medical evaluation looks for the impact drugs have had on physical health. They will  also identify existing medical conditions that may affect treatment.
  7. Detox is not the only step. Many addicts think that detoxification is all that is needed for recovery. Rehab specialists will show the many steps and long process involved in drug treatment well past detox. 
  8. Family needs to be part of the recovery process.  Broken ties from family because of addiction need to be mended in order for recovery to be successful long-term. In some cases, family may be part of the cause of addiction and other family members may need to be treated for drug and alcohol issues.
  9. Medications may be prescribed. There are many drugs that will help curb cravings and boost recovery as well as help an addict through the difficult detox process.

Managing Detox

Getting through detox is one of the most difficult steps in recovery. There are severe physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms experienced. It is advised that no recovering addict attempt detox on their own. Seizures and many other medical emergencies can arise and having the support of professional is good to have around if that happens.  Recovery specialists can also help with managing the symptoms through medications. Some of the symptoms may include:

  • Extreme tension
  • Panic attacks
  • Tremors
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Fitful sleep
  • Heart palpitations
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Severe headache
  • Muscle stiffness and pain like a severe flu

The fear of these harsh symptoms is one of the many reasons addicts may avoid the recovery process.  For this reason, the controversial use of rapid detox is sometimes proposed. In the rapid detox process, the patient is sedated for the duration of the detox. In other words, they simply sleep through it.  For many doctors and recovery specialists however, there are concerns that without the harsh experience of detox, the patient will be more likely to relapse. Traditional detox will of its downsides is still seen as a necessary step before entering long-term treatment.

What is withdrawal? How long does it last?

What Happens at Inpatient Residential Treatment?

Residential treatment programs are usually sixty to ninety days. During this stay, the addicted person will go through numerous treatment options to lead them to recovery.

Personal Interaction with a Treatment Specialist. The recovering person will speak one-on-one with a recovery specialist to evaluate the progress of treatment and to slowly work toward root causes. The recovery professional will help the recovering individual gain insight into their addiction through these personal therapy sessions.

Interaction with Other Addicts in Group Therapy. Through group therapy a recovering addict will learn from other recovering addicts, which helps reinforce the fact that they are not alone in their struggle with drugs. Also, recovering addicts offer a unique support system, having walked in the same shoes, they understand the drug urges, the personal feelings in recovery and how they personally manage their work toward sobriety.

Medical Attention as Needed.  Though not a hospital, inpatient treatment centers will provide medical attention. This is especially true for patients managing other illnesses along with addiction. Medical doctors are also necessary to prescribe medications that help cravings and to oversee the physical progress of a recovering individual.

Wellness Options for a Sober Life. Inpatient rehabilitation center may also offer wellness options as part of treatment. Along with food and lodging during the recovery, addicts may be able to exercise at on-site gyms, learn more about nutrition from staff, as well as try different wellness techniques such as yoga or meditation to help them further recovery.

A Shelter from the Outside World. Most importantly inpatient residential treatment offers a safe place where addicts can recover. The stresses of life which may contribute to relapse remain outside the walls of the treatment center and the influence of drug culture is also kept out as the patient learns how to function in a sober life.

Should I choose inpatient or outpatient?

Outpatient Treatment Options

Outpatient treatment can be an alternative to inpatient for certain recovering individuals. For milder forms of addiction, where the patient is still able to go to work or school, outpatient offers a useful option that does not interrupt normal life. Many outpatient sessions can occur during the evenings or on the weekend.

Outpatient is also the next step for patients just leaving inpatient care.  Through outpatient, recovering individuals learn to re-enter the sober world while still receiving support through outpatient sessions.  Outpatient also offers the opportunity for innovative treatment options that can accommodate different needs for different individuals managing recovery.

Faith-Based Sessions

The use of spiritual healing through outpatient is emphasized with this approach. For recovering addicts with a strong devotion to God, this approach combines belief with healing practices. Bible study and prayer become tools utilized by the counselor throughout the therapy sessions.

Exclusive Group Sessions

For some individuals, a certain aspect of life has defined them and possibly their drug use. Group sessions can limit the type of individuals who attend to create a group of like-minded souls. For example, a group with just teens, can help make the sessions more appealing because of the related experience of age. In other instance military personnel may find that a group consisting of just war veterans is better. Those who have experienced the harsh realities of combat, which in fact may also be a root cause of their addiction, can find others with the same experience very helpful.

Holistic Treatment Therapy Sessions

Using Eastern practices such as yoga, meditation and even massage, holistic treatment uses therapeutic approaches that can help addicts who are recovering at the inpatient level.  These non-medicinal approaches focus on reinforcing personal strength and discipline while also learning inner peace and stress management.

Experiential Sessions

Some counselors feel that something more than just a circle of chairs can help recovering addicts. For this reason, experiential therapies have been implemented in many outpatient programs. Through engaging activities such as rock climbing, kayaking and hiking, addicts are able to remove themselves from the sedentary life that addiction has placed them in and explore a sober world with new eyes. Many experiential sessions include trips where patients can bond with each other in the process.

Relapse Prevention-Focused Therapy Sessions

For many the struggle with relapse is the most pressing issue faced in recovery. Some outpatient therapy sessions will focus on relapse to maintain sobriety. In each session, there are exercises for managing triggers and avoiding relapse situations. Also, discussions emphasize learning personal triggers to better understand relapse avoidance.

Stress Management Therapy Sessions

For many recovering addicts the stresses of everyday life are the most impactful triggers and are the greatest risk for relapse. Stress management therapy helps these individuals handle stressful situations from work and school to an argument with a spouse.

Skill Development Group Sessions

Some groups use their outpatient sessions to fortify basic skills that may have been lost during addiction. Personal interaction, managing money and handling responsibility become every day exercises learned and practiced. In some instances, especially among teen addicts, these skills may have never been learned. Research has shown that frustrations not being able to adapt to sober world activities causes relapse, which has made skill development vital.

Family-Focused Therapy Sessions

Because family can be both a causality addiction and a reason for addiction, it is important for addicts to relearn family dynamics within sober living.  For families with a history of addiction in parents or other siblings, family therapy helps those other loved ones find help while also healing the recovering individual. In circumstances where families have been damaged by an addicted individual now in recovery, family therapy seeks to heal those wounds so that all family members can be a meaningful part of the sober life of the recovering.

More on Inpatient Vs. Outpatient

Aftercare and Sober Living Options

After the last session of outpatient treatment, many recovering individuals will need to continue focusing on staying sober. To do this, twelve-step programs exist that allow recovering addicts to receive the healing support of a network of fellow recovering addicts.

Twelve step programs can be highly focused on drugs of choice. There are specific programs for meth addicts, alcoholics, and heroin addicts. Twelve step programs offer the incentive of progressing toward sobriety through goals. They also offer the opportunity for a recovering addict to help others within the network who are also struggling with sobriety.

For some recovering addicts, the stresses of life can be overwhelming. For this reason, sober living facilities offer a sanctuary that is both therapeutic and protective. If house rules are followed and residents remain sober, these halfway houses become a way of managing the sober world effectively. By integrating aspects of both inpatient care and outpatient care, sober living facilities make transitioning to a long-term sober life successful.

What happens after discharge?

Mending Life Post-Addiction

Because of the many consequences of addiction, recovering can sometimes leave an individual with many problems other than drugs. Aftercare help will focus on these issues and provide counselling and support.  Aftercare specialists can help recovering addicts with:

Housing and transportation issues- Aftercare can help a recovering addict find housing and renew driving privileges lost during addiction.

Financial issues- Bankruptcy and other financial problems are addressed.

Legal Issues- Run-ins with the law, probation and other legal problems may need to be handled

Relationship and child custody Issues- Children taken from addicted parents or relationships that have been harmed by addiction are all matters where a recovering addict may need help.

Medical and mental health Issues- Outstanding psychological issues or medical issues don’t go away after addiction recovery and still need to be managed.

Employment- Difficulty finding a job is one of the great hurdles for a recovering addict, especially one with a criminal record. Aftercare may get involved to help a recovering addict find employment.

Education- With many teens addicted to drugs, school is often abandoned. Getting back to school whether it be successfully completing a GED or going onto college all become potential goals with the help of aftercare.

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