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Drug Addiction Treatment in Salt Lake City, Utah

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

Salt Lake City is the capital of Utah and the most populous municipality in the state. There are around 200,000 people living in Salt Lake City, which is the center of the much bigger Salt Lake City metropolitan area. There are over one million people living in this area, which is the commercial and industrial heart of the surrounding region. Salt Lake City is famous as the world headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with a number of Mormon pioneers making their mark on the city throughout its history.

Like many places in America, Salt Lake City faces a number of drug and alcohol problems. Along with the prescription opioid crisis that is sweeping across the United States, the city also faces issues with alcohol, methamphetamine, and marijuana just to name a few. If you know anyone in Salt Lake City who is facing drug problems, it’s important to reach out to a treatment center as soon as you can.

Demographics and Income in Salt Lake City

According to official figures from the United States Census Bureau in 2016, the population of Salt Lake City was 193,744. The racial profile of the city is mostly non-Hispanic White at 65 percent, with African Americans at 2.5 percent, Native Americans at 1.1 percent, Asians at 5.6 percent, and 21.6 percent of the overall population being Latino or Hispanic of any race.

The median age of Salt Lake City residents is 30 years, with 33.4 percent of the overall population aged from 25 to 44. The median income for a household in Salt Lake City is $36,944, with the median income for a family being $45,140, and the median per capita income being $20,752. This means that 15.3 percent of the Salt Lake City population and just over 10 percent of families are living below the poverty line.

Crime Rates in Salt Lake City

The crime rate in Salt Lake City is high, with 9.49 violent crimes per 1,000 residents and 88.54 property crimes per 1,000 residents according to figures from Neighborhood Scout. This is much higher than Utah and national averages, which are 2.43 and 4 for violent crimes, and 29.52 and 25 for property crimes respectively. Property crimes are often the result of substance abuse and addiction, with prescription opioid abuse and heroin addiction often correlated with crime statistics.

The Rio Grande district of Salt Lake City is the epicenter of drug crime in the city, with heroin users and dealers concentrated in this area. People are increasingly gravitating towards heroin from prescription opioids, with the number of heroin overdose deaths having tripled across Utah since 2007. According to figures from the Sorenson Impact Center at the University of Utah, the number of drug related offenses in Salt Lake City has risen drastically since 2013, especially for heroin and amphetamines.

Common Drug Problems in Salt Lake City and Utah

Like other places in the United States, the residents of Utah and Salt Lake City face serious problems with prescription opioids such as fentanyl and oxycodone. Prescription drug deaths in Utah have increased by 400 percent since 2000, with the situation in the Salt Lake City metropolitan area particularly alarming. While less than 5 percent of the national population are abusing prescription medications, this figures jumps to 5.4 percent for Utah and 6.3 percent for Salt Lake City. This is a whopping 22 percent higher than the national average, with many of these people turning to the potent illegal opioid heroin to get a stronger effect.

According to the Utah Department of Health, 80 percent of people addicted to heroin started by becoming dependent on prescription drugs. This is a huge concern for lawmakers and drug treatment professionals, with heroin abuse often leading to overdose or long-term addiction. Along with opioids, Salt Lake City also faces problems with methamphetamine abuse and alcohol, which is still the most commonly abused drug among all demographic groups in the city. Only one in ten people with a substance use disorder receive the help they need, with more education and treatment facilities required in and around Salt Lake City.

What is a substance use disorder?

People all over the world take a wide range of psychoactive compounds for medical and recreational purposes. Sometimes this use becomes problematic and develops into a substance use disorder. Also known as a drug use disorder, this condition affects people from all walks of life. There is no exact definition of a substance use disorder, with medical, criminal, and addiction treatment professionals all defining the term in there own unique way. Generally speaking, someone is said to have a substance use disorder when they miss-use or abuse drugs in a way that is causing harm to themselves or others.

Many people with a substance use disorder have problems with drug dependence or addiction, with these related terms often requiring specialized treatment. While drug dependence is associated with specific withdrawal symptoms when drug use is discontinued, drug addiction is associated with compulsive drug taking that is problematic by nature. While these two terms define a lot of substance use disorders, binge drinking and other forms of substance abuse are not necessarily the result of dependence or addiction. Professional help is often needed to manage and treat substance use disorders, with rehab clinics located across Salt Lake City and the United States.

Signs and Symptoms of a Substance Use Disorder

People often go to extreme lengths to hide their substance abuse from those around them, which can make it hard to help people in need. While many of the signs and symptoms of drug abuse are related to the specific substance in question, there are also some general warning signs that are worth

watching out for. An intervention is sometimes needed before someone will accept the help they need, with denial and secretive behavior needing to be broken down by counseling and treatment. While the following list is not exhaustive, substance abuse can sometimes be recognized by these signs:  

  • unexplained mood swings
  • lack of motivation
  • financial problems
  • physical and mental health problems
  • legal problems
  • inability to reduce drug consumption or stop drug use
  • developing tolerance
  • experiencing withdrawal symptoms when drug use is stopped
  • altered sleeping and eating patterns
  • not meeting work, school, or family responsibilities
  • compulsive or impulsive drug taking behavior
  • continuing to use drugs despite the existence of problems

Physical vs Psychological Dependence

Drug abuse takes many forms, with a wide spectrum of psychoactive substances regularly abused across the United States. Drugs are often characterized according to the type of dependence they cause, with some substances known to produce physical dependence and others known to produce psychological dependence. It’s important to note that physical dependence is also associated with psychological symptoms, but the opposite is not the case. It’s also important to distinguish between dependence and addiction, the latter of which does not require specific withdrawal symptoms and is instead recognized by certain behaviors. 

Physical Drug Dependence

Physical drug dependence can be identified by the experience of physical-somatic withdrawal symptoms when drug use is stopped or dramatically reduced. Substances known to cause physical dependence are typically central nervous system (CNS) depressants, including alcohol, prescription opioids, heroin, and prescription sedatives. Common physical withdrawal symptoms include sweating, nausea, vomiting, uncontrolled limb movements, seizures, and delirium tremens. While some of these symptoms are mild in nature, others are severe and can cause serious medical complications if left untreated. Medications are often used to manage the withdrawal syndrome, with opioid drugs and benzodiazepines commonly prescribed.

Psychological Drug Dependence

Psychological dependence is recognized by distinct emotional and motivational withdrawal symptoms when drug use is stopped or reduced. While these symptoms are unlikely to cause physical problems, they can influence a person’s mental health and sense of well-being. Other than marijuana, most of these substances are CNS stimulants. Common drugs known to cause psychological dependence include marijuana, MDMA, cocaine, methamphetamine, and prescription stimulants such as Adderall and Ritalin. While a medical detox period may not be needed to manage psychological withdrawal, it is important to be aware of the following symptoms: lack of motivation, insomnia, depression, anxiety, mood swings, and drug cravings. Psychological dependence is normally treated with cognitive and behavioral therapies.

Prescription Drug Abuse and Dependence

Prescription drug abuse and dependence has become a huge problem in American society. There is a prescription opioid crisis currently sweeping across the United States, with a wide range of medications abused on a regular basis. Problematic prescription opioids include fentanyl, morphine, codeine, oxycodone, and hydrocodone. As well as being available in their isolated form, these drugs are sometimes combined with paracetamol and other mild painkillers. Benzodiazepine sedatives are also widely abused in America, including Valium, Xanax, Klonopin and many others. The third most widely abused prescription drug class is stimulants, including the ADHD drugs Adderall and Ritalin.

There are many ways to abuse and miss-use prescription medications, all of which can cause serious harm:

  • taking larger doses than prescribed
  • combining medications
  • using medications prescribed for a different person
  • buying drugs or scripts on the black market
  • using a different method of administration than prescribed  

Drug Treatment Intake and Assessment

Drug abuse, dependence, and addiction often require professional treatment. While some people do manage to get off drugs by themselves, or with the help of loved ones, access to a professional treatment program is the safest and most effective way to break the bonds of addiction. Before entering a rehabilitation program, each individual patient will be assessed both physically and mentally. It’s important to perform comprehensive tests in order to recognize any problems that might be dangerous or impede the treatment process. For example, doctors will attempt to identify the primary drug of abuse, secondary substance use disorders, mental health disorders, behavioral addictions, and lifestyle factors that may affect treatment.     

Some of the external factors that are known to affect drug and alcohol treatment include criminal justice issues, domestic and family abuse, homelessness, and the existence of dependent children. Intellectual disabilities and pre-existing medical conditions also need to be identified as early as possible. During the intake and assessment process, patients will be asked lots of questions about their drug addiction and current health status. This is important in order to avoid dangerous drug interactions and other complications. Once the patient has been assessed, they will be admitted into either a medical detox or rehabilitation program according to the existence or likelihood of physical withdrawal symptoms.

Medical Detox

Detox is the first step in the drug treatment process for many people, especially those people who are likely to experience physical withdrawal symptoms. Most detox programs involve the administration of medications to support and manage the process, including opioids and benzodiazepines. Medical detox is typically carried out in a three stage process: initial evaluation, medication, and guiding patients into further treatment. Once a patient has been admitted into detox, they will go through a number of physical and mental tests to see whether detox will be safe and effective. Blood tests will normally be carried out to check for currently circulating substances, with doctors also performing a psychological examination and general medical check-up.

The second stage of detox attempts to stabilize the patient so that they are ready and willing to accept further treatment. Medications are typically used during this stage to help manage the process and reduce the severity of certain symptoms. For example, the opioid drugs methadone or buprenorphine may be prescribed to reduce seizures and hallucinations. While it is possible to stabilize patients without medications, this can be dangerous and is not normally recommended. “Cold turkey” and rapid detox programs that function without the use of medications are not often used by professional treatment centers.

The third and final stage of medical detox attempts to help the patient accept additional treatment. Detox is never enough when administered in isolation, with all detox programs designed to precede rehabilitation and psychotherapy regimes. During the final stages of detox, the patient should be sober and ready to engage with further treatment. Following detox, patients may be admitted to a range of inpatient or outpatient treatment programs. Rehab is designed to address the emotional, cognitive, and environmental issues that influence drug abuse and addiction. Typical treatment paradigms include behavioral therapy, cognitive therapy, motivational enhancement therapy, and 12-step facilitation among others.

Inpatient and Outpatient Rehabilitation

Rehab is the primary focus of most drug treatment regimes, with inpatient and outpatient programs both available. While detox is important for getting people clean and helping them to manage drug withdrawal, it does nothing to address the issues that precede and influence drug addiction. In order to change negative and unwanted behavior patterns, people need to recognize problem areas and do everything they can to set up new psychological and physical associations. Cognitive behavioral therapy is often at the center of this approach, with practitioners helping people to identify potential triggers and recognize how certain thoughts and emotions affect behavior patterns.

Inpatient rehab is also known as residential rehab, with this type of treatment involving a live-in arrangement. Inpatient programs can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, with this comprehensive form of treatment recommended for people with physical drug addictions, anyone with an extensive history of drug abuse, and anyone who needs to escape their home environment while receiving treatment. Residential treatment centers (RTC) offer full-time support for the duration of treatment, with partial hospitalization programs (PHP) allowing people to return home on the weekends. For a less comprehensive form of treatment, intensive outpatient programs (IOP) provide full-time support on a 9-5 basis without the provision of accommodation.

In contrast to residential rehab, outpatient programs allow the patient to live at their usual domestic address while getting the help they need. This can be both positive and negative, with patients exposed to more triggers but also able to receive support from friends and family members. Outpatient programs are incredibly varied, from short weekend programs through to ongoing support meetings such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Outpatient treatment is normally less expensive and more flexible than residential care, especially when treatment is needed on an indefinite basis.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT forms the basis of many rehab and aftercare programs. This form of treatment has proven successful across many fields, including mental health disorders and substance use disorders. While this therapy can be approached in many ways, it normally attempts to change unwanted behavior patterns by working with the emotions and thoughts that preceded them. If patients can learn how negative internal states lead to impulsive and compulsive behaviors, they can make the necessary adjustments.

While this might seem simple, changing long-term behavior patterns can be extremely difficult. Practitioners need to work with patients to help them identify problem areas and avoid potential triggers. CBT may be applied alongside other forms of rehabilitation, including motivational interviewing, contingency management programs, meditation and mindfulness, and creative therapies. 

Medication Therapy

Also known as pharmacotherapy, medication programs are sometimes initiated alongside psychotherapy treatments. The most well-known form of medication therapy is opioid replacement therapy, which substitutes prescribed opioid medications for heroin and other problematic opioids. While this form of treatment does nothing to address the underlying issues of drug addiction, it can be a very useful source of lifestyle management and harm reduction. Alcoholics and sedative addicts may also need long-term medication therapy in some cases, especially if they have an extensive history of addiction or are suffering from a protracted withdrawal syndrome.

Medication therapy is available from many rehab centers, with methadone treatment and other programs also available on a long-term basis once the patient has left formal treatment. Access to medication therapy in the early days of treatment is one of the reasons why people choose residential rehab programs, many of which offer 24 hour access to medication and medical support staff.

Pharmacotherapy regimes should always be accompanied by CBT and other psychotherapy programs that address the causes of drug abuse and addiction.

12-step Support Groups

Conventional 12-step support groups form the basis of many treatment programs, both during rehab and on an aftercare basis. While Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is the most famous of these groups, there are many other support groups using a similar or identical model: Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine

Anonymous, and Crystal Meth Anonymous just to name a few. 12-step facilitation is based on the disease model of addiction, which stipulates that all substance addictions should be treated in a similar fashion to biological diseases.

During the 12-step process, recovering addicts need to admit a lack of control over their addiction and recognize a higher power to help restore sanity to their lives. While AA and other groups have a traditional Christian focus, there is the option to recognize a non-religious higher power. For people looking for an alternative to conventional 12-step groups, SMART Recovery and other support groups are also available.

Aftercare Support Programs

Also known as continuing care, aftercare programs include all treatments that take place after the commencement of formal rehab. From local church support groups through to AA, SMART Recovery, and family therapy, there are many ways to get help in the months and years that follow drug discontinuation. Drug addiction treatment is often seen as a three stage process, with detox helping people to stop using drugs, rehab helping them to address the precedents of addiction, and aftercare promoting long-term recovery. Ongoing support meetings and counseling sessions are a great way to make a successful transition from rehab to everyday life.

Sober Living Environments

Sober living environments (SLEs), also known as sober living houses, provide practical support to people who have just left treatment. The provision of affordable and safe accommodation and access to ongoing psychotherapy programs is a valuable resource to many. SLEs typically operate under a strict set of rules, including no drugs or alcohol, random drug testing, no overnight guests, and ongoing interaction with therapy sessions. If you know anyone in Salt Lake City who is living with a substance use disorder, it’s important to find a professional treatment program as soon as possible.    

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