What North Carolina Is Doing About Its Drug Crisis
Drug abuse is a major problem in North Carolina and the nation as a whole. In the first 20 years of this century, over 28,000 North Carolinians died of drug overdoses. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) reports that around nine individuals a day died in the state due to drug overdoses, and over 15,000 emergency room visits in 2020 were related to drug overdoses.
That year, North Carolina ranked 23rd in the nation for drug overdose deaths per capita with 29 fatal overdoses per 100,000 population. The number of drug overdose deaths from illegal substances and pharmaceuticals in North Carolina surged nearly 40% from April 2020 to April 2021.
State health officials have launched a campaign to combat the drug crisis and take back communities that have been devastated by it. North Carolinians are encouraged to drop their unused prescription in any of more than 200 “drug take-back boxes” in pharmacies and police stations throughout the state. The NCDHHS is building an alliance with schools, faith groups, community leaders, and companies across the state to fight the drug epidemic.
Commonly Abused Drugs in North Carolina
People may take drugs for pleasure, for a quick high to escape unpleasant reality, or to avoid feelings of anxiety. These drugs are commonly abused in North Carolina:
Marijuana is the most commonly used drug in North Carolina. It acts as a hypnotic and potentiates the effects of drugs that have a higher affinity to cannabinoid receptors in the central nervous system. The drug can cause health problems such as cardiovascular, respiratory, and mental health issues, including impaired memory, cognition, and motor function.
Cocaine is a powerful stimulant of the central nervous system. In a 2019 study, more than 61,000 young people said they had consumed cocaine: 2,634 aged 12 to 17 and 58,610 aged 18 to 25. Powder cocaine can be consumed in different ways, including swallowing, snorting, and smoking. The effects of cocaine include euphoria, mental alertness, and increased energy levels. However, these effects are followed by a crash that lasts up to several hours. Repeated use of cocaine can lead to long-term effects, including heart disease, stroke, mental illness, respiratory issues, and weight loss.
Each year, heavy alcohol use leads to 2,761 fatalities and 83,125 years of potential life lost, costing North Carolina $6.0 billion. Alcohol can be purchased from convenience stores, liquor stores, and even the local bar. This easy availability makes it hard for some people to stop drinking alcohol even when they know they may be exposing themselves to the health risks of alcohol abuse. The long-term effects of alcohol use include liver cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes, dementia, and other mental health problems.
What Is Substance Use Disorder?
Drug abuse differs from dependence, but they both refer to what is now known as substance use disorder (SUD). A person abusing drugs for their desired effects may be able to use addictive substances such as cocaine, heroin, and marijuana and still take care of family and professional responsibilities — for a while. The person might be able to overcome the habit and achieve sobriety. However, if that individual continues using drugs, he or she will eventually develop a dependence on them, needing them to function day-to-day. Since 2013, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) has used the term substance use disorder (SUD) to refer to either situation.
How Drug Addiction Develops
Drug addiction is a chronic disease of the brain. It alters the structure and function of the brain, resulting in compulsive drug use and the inability to control it. Some studies have shown that the brain’s reward system plays a role. The drug addict’s brain becomes dependent on drugs. The euphoric feeling an individual gets when taking drugs leaves him or her craving more and leads to addiction.
What Causes Addiction?
Multiple factors contribute to SUDs and addiction. They include:
• Social pressure
• Family history of addiction
• childhood trauma such as neglect or abuse
• Wide availability of drugs in the community and online
How Do People Recognize Drug Abuse?
Warning signs that indicate someone is suffering from drug abuse include:
• Changes in personality like acting paranoid or secretive or making sudden changes in activities and hangouts
• Changes in appearance such as poor hygiene, hair loss, or sudden weight loss or gain
• Behavioral changes like aggression and violence, sleepiness during the day, or withdrawing from friends and family
• Frequent drug use, such as taking drugs every day and being unable to stop without help
• Possession of drug paraphernalia like needles, spoons, and pipes
North Carolina Drug Rehab Benefits
There are many benefits that come with drug rehabilitation in North Carolina.
Safe and Conducive Environment
A drug rehab center that is clean and safe is the best place to recover from drug abuse. A rehab center can guarantee safety and a secure environment where there are no dangers of sharing drugs within the community. Clients share their recovery experiences with the group, which can prove very helpful in maintaining sobriety.
Relapse Prevention Program
There is a wide range of relapse prevention programs that help people learn how to deal with the triggers that lead them toward drug abuse. You can learn techniques for resisting temptation and overcoming the craving for drugs. Relapse prevention addresses emotional and psychological issues that could lead to resuming drug use. Relapse prevention programs are helpful in managing the underlying causes of addiction and preventing it from recurring. Drug rehab in North Carolina is conducted by teams that include medical professionals, psychologists, and counselors. They help you set realistic goals for recovery, plan for maintaining sobriety, and deal with life’s challenges after getting sober.
A good nutrition program can make it easier to stay sober and maintain good health. Nutritious, tasty food can help you maintain a healthy mind and body that are better able to resist harmful habits and adopt healthy new ones.
In addition to individual treatment, the rehab center organizes group activities. These activities help to empower you and give you a better understanding of the consequences of drug and alcohol abuse. The group activities help clients to stay sober by supporting each other in their recovery. These groups also encourage everyone to share their experiences in recovery, so individuals feel less isolated and lonely.
North Carolina Treatment Options
North Carolina has a quantity of substance abuse treatment centers. There are several types of drug rehab programs in North Carolina that specialize in drug and alcohol treatment.
You can choose from various detox programs in North Carolina for specific addiction needs. While it’s possible to detox at home or at a rehab center, the best option is under strict medical supervision in a medical facility. Drug detoxification is carried out by a medical professional who closely monitors your vital signs, provides medications to manage withdrawal symptoms, and can also prescribe other medications to prevent relapse.
Inpatient programs are the most common type of drug rehab in North Carolina. Drug rehab programs can be either long-term or short-term, depending on the use of drugs and the severity of the addiction. These programs offer you a safe and secure environment in which to receive treatment. Inpatient rehab programs are best for people who are dealing with severe addiction and need assistance with drug detoxification and withdrawal symptoms.
Outpatient drug rehab programs allow you to maintain your autonomy and live a normal life while getting treatment. An outpatient program is convenient for people who are able to continue their work, school, or family responsibilities and do not require a lot of time for treatment. These programs also have a shorter duration, so you can get back on track quickly. These programs can be long-term or short-term, depending on the needs of the individual.
North Carolina has many support groups for drug addicts. Support groups are helpful in providing social interaction and learning new techniques for coping with drugs. They can make participants feel less isolated and lonely in their recovery process. Certain groups deal with different types of alcohol addiction and drug addiction, and there are collegiate groups that provide educational opportunities along with recovery support.
Twelve-step programs are common and popular in North Carolina. These are groups like Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) that help people progress in their recovery. Recovering addicts meet together and share their stories with each other and encourage each other to remain sober. It is a spiritual-based approach where the people gather at the same place to discuss their problems and how to overcome them. It helps people in recovery to break the cycle of addiction and redefine their sense of self.
Counseling may be a type of drug rehabilitation. It helps individuals to understand their problems and personality. It helps them to understand the relationship they share with their family and friends, the reasons behind their addiction, and the different ways to handle drugs. Counseling helps people in recovery to deal with their problems and teaches them new techniques to stay sober. Options include individual counseling, family counseling, and group counseling. Individual counseling addresses the problems of one person in recovery. Family counseling brings that person and their family together to discuss their issues and work together to solve them. Group therapy involves unrelated people coming together to talk about their experiences.
North Carolina is one of the most economically stable states in the country, but it has its fair share of addiction. Fortunately, drug rehabilitation and treatment facilities in North Carolina are available to help treat people’s drug addictions and support their recovery in effective ways.