Category Archives: Addiction

Understanding California’s Homeless Population and Addiction

addiction in california's homeless population

California and homelessness is hardly a novel talking point. For many years, residents and politicians alike have expressed frustration with the growing homeless population and have debated back and forth about public policy that has been proposed in attempts to help the crisis.

Many areas of California have become infamous to people even outside the state. Areas like Los Angeles’ Skid Row and San Francisco’s Tenderloin are areas that are referenced as some of the worst examples of the homeless epidemic and addiction struggles. Both of these neighborhoods have become known for street drug trade, homeless populations, unsanitary living conditions, violent crime, and theft.

Within the last several years, the homelessness epidemic seems to have reached a fevered pitch of complaints, with news about tent cities, unclean streets, mental illness, and quality of life making national and local news headlines. The issues of addiction, alongside mental illness, in the homeless population remain a troubling—and sadly—highly politicized reality.

Just this past October, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that the city that is home to the famed Golden Gate Bridge is losing approximately two people each day to drug overdoses. In particular, fentanyl overdoses are spiking and causing increasing concern as the fatality numbers keep increasing.

How did things get so bad

It might seem strange to see such a prosperous state struggle this much. After all, California has always been a state of innovation, home to Silicon Valley and numerous other business ventures. Of course, it’s home to Hollywood and Beverly Hills—the movers and shakers of the entertainment industry—not to mention the large agricultural and manufacturing scene.

California also has the highest earning economy of any state in the country, topping the charts at a whopping 14% of the U.S. GDP. According to a 2019 Markets Insider publication, if California were a country, it would have the world’s fifth largest economy, behind Germany and ahead of the United Kingdom.

Perhaps the best way to better understand these issues is to start from the beginning.

A Brief History of the Homeless Epidemic in California

Depending on whom you ask, you’ll get different answers to the question “why does California have an increasing homeless epidemic?”

However, the answer will likely be one of four things or a combination of all or some of them: housing shortages, increasing housing prices, drug addiction, and mental illness. 

causes of addiction in californias homeless population

The answer to this question is complex and cannot necessarily be answered in a straightforward way. Asking someone this question has become increasingly political and controversial. Some groups of individuals will claim California’s homeless problem is a result of the housing crisis, but others will claim the homeless problem is a drug problem being sold as a housing crisis.

The conflict between these two sides is important to acknowledge to accurately portray the current realities of California and its legislature, but this piece does not intend to delve into the politics behind such conversations. Instead, we shall say that for certain, California does struggle with exorbitant housing prices, and it also struggles with an addiction crisis.

Since Skid Row is one of the most infamous examples, it’s worth investigating how Skid Row became what it is today.

Skid Row: Unassuming Beginnings and Infamous Legacy

Skid Row is a neighborhood in Los Angeles that’s become infamous as a center for homeless populations.

During the end of the 19th century, hotels opened in the neighborhood to cater to the seasonal laborers. Into the early 20th century, lower-class workers, unemployed individuals, and disabled persons began filtering into the hotels in the area. According to the Skid Row Housing Trust, “between 1950 and 2000, 15,000 residential hotel apartments, the most affordable housing in Los Angeles, were destroyed.”

history of addicition

Contributing to the demolition of buildings were the changing building codes in the 60s. Renovating buildings in order to get them up to code was an expensive task. For many building owners, demolition was a better economical option than updating the building.

Due to the demolition of a majority of that affordable housing, the gradual loss of the apartments forced many people out onto the streets and into community shelters. Large swaths of people became homeless during this time as finding lower-rent housing became increasingly difficult.

According to the BBC, beginning in 1976, “city officials established Skid Row as an unofficial "containment zone", where homeless people, shelters, and services would be tolerated.”

In 1981, the U.S. experienced a recession and as unemployment numbers rose, the use of crack cocaine was also on the rise in major cities across the United States, including Los Angeles.

Since the 80s, government officials have argued back and forth on crackdown policies that would include enforcing anti-camping ordinances. At various times, LAPD members had proposed harsher crackdowns on homeless populations only to meet resistance from homeless advocates or local government officials who blocked proposals or refused to prosecute any arrests. The debate over the proper way forward with the homeless population continues into the modern day.

One of the most recent compromises was a 2006 compromise proposal that followed a court decision that bars the LAPD from arresting transients for sleeping on the streets or confiscating any of their possessions. These individuals were allowed to sleep on the sidewalk between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 6:30 a.m. so long as they remained more than 10 feet away from a business or residential entrance.

More and more, Skid Row seems to have been isolated from the public. It’s become its own kind of world that has been cut off from the more glamorous surroundings of Los Angeles.

Skid Row’s 4.324 mi², Thousands of People Ripe for Substance Abuse and Addiction

Skid Row as a central hub for public and social services sees thousands of homeless individuals pass through each year. Many of these individuals experience some kind of addiction to an illicit substance or struggle with a mental illness.

Christopher Rufo, the contributing editor for City Journal, describes in his article titled “The Moral Crisis of Skid Row” his estimate that “the sales of meth, heroin, and cocaine on Skid Row add up to a $200 million annual enterprise, fueling a massive black market in everything from stolen bicycle parts to human organs.”

addiction trends

The interviewee in Rufo’s article, LAPD member Sergeant Pete Kouvelis, explains that Skid Row is divided into sections based on gangs. Gangs with a piece of territory in Skid Row have a vested interest in getting and keeping people hooked on substances. Street gangs here control the market for substances like meth, heroin, cigarettes, and even stolen property and prostitution.

For those looking to continue their addiction or make money off other people’s addictions, Skid Row is an ideal market. Over time, this area has become the epicenter for Los Angeles’ addiction crisis as well as becoming the poster child for California’s struggle to crack down on the drug trade and improve the homeless populations’ quality of life and opportunities.

LAPD’s attempts at disrupting the drug trade have proved to be mostly ineffective. Kouvelis is quoted as explaining that, “the population is very good at learning our tactics and then adapting their behaviors to counter our tactics.”

The drug trade and market in this area of town offers a wide variety of substances. Homeless persons on Skid Row can be addicted to an assortment of substances or a mix of drugs.

Another of Rufo’s interviewees, Mark Casanova, executive director of Homeless Healthcare Los Angeles, explains that “70 percent of [the homeless drug users on Skid Row] are crystal meth users, or a combo of crystal meth and heroin, crystal meth and cocaine. . . . The remaining percentage is probably about 25 percent heroin, and a fair number of cocaine users.”

Again, public policy is a battleground here. Rufo insightfully points out that within the last few decades, social activists for the homeless and many politicians have shifted the public policy on addiction and illicit drug use.

Where the policy used to be more punitive, focusing more on prohibition and incarceration, now the philosophy has changed to the focus of “harm reduction.” This approach views widespread drug use as something that is an expected and normal occurrence and instead of focusing on the punitive aspects, attempts to reduce rates of infection and complications for users.

The priority is on ensuring users are as safe as possible while using, thus accepting the initial behavior of illicit substance use as a given.

Homeless Populations’ Access to Treatment and Addiction Rehab Centers in Sacramento, California

The Sacramento Public Health Department estimated that somewhere between 10,000 and 11,000 Sacramento residents would experience homelessness in 2019. The department reached out to a group of individuals who identified as homeless in one particular count.

According to a published slideshow report of some recent findings and future plans titled Alcohol and Drug Services For Persons Experiencing Homelessness, of the 5,570 individuals that made up this particular homeless population, nine percent of individuals reported that drug and alcohol use prevented them from holding down a job or stable housing. This group consisted of 52% men and 48% women.

Additionally, in more general terms, the department claims some 60% of respondents said that they use alcohol or non-medical drugs. However, only 15% of those respondents indicated that they believed alcohol or drug use impacted their ability to hold a job or secure stable housing.

These numbers may seem high or low, depending on the perspective and background of an individual looking at this data. However, one thing is clear: substance use disorders do affect people in the homeless populations in Sacramento and across California. The impact of a substance use disorder, even in the life of one person, can evolve into a path that leads to negative mental and physical consequences.

Outside of politics, it seems reasonable to presume that nobody wishes to see a person’s life negatively affected in any way. Some proportion within the homeless populations clearly has some degree of struggle with substance use and addiction and reports an impact of that use on their professional career and ability to have a stable home.

Of course, nobody wishes to see a person’s life made more difficult by substance use disorders. This is why examining and reducing barriers to treatment is important if any progress and positive change is to be made in the quality of life of California’s homeless population. 

Barriers to Substance Use Disorder Treatment in California

The Sacramento Public Health Department has identified several barriers to accessing addiction treatment in the homeless community. The presentation lists the following as probable reasons:

  • Housing needs
  • High rates of comorbidity
    • comorbidity (n): simultaneously present medical conditions in an individual
  • Social isolation
  • Safety concerns
  • Fear or distrust of authority
  • Lack of mobility and/or access to transportation
  • Need for case management

barriers to substance use disorder treatment

The department also touches on the issues of stigma that surround addiction and addiction treatment. Although substance use disorders might be coated in a negative connotation by society, ignoring the reality of these struggles and the people who struggle daily with this, it hardly improves the situation or health of any person struggling with addiction.

The Sacramento Public Health Department cites the Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health, explaining that while 1 in 7 people in the United States are expected to develop a substance use disorder, only 1 in 10 people receive treatment. 

Looking Forward: Healing and Addiction Treatment in California

It would be unrealistic to expect California’s complex issues surrounding homelessness, housing, addiction, and mental health to be resolved in any short period of time.

Instead of looking towards timelines, Pathways Recovery chooses to look towards making meaningful connections with individuals and improving the life of one individual at a time. Pathways believes in combating the stigma that surrounds addiction treatment. Instead, the treatment center sees the potential of improvement in physical and mental health through exercise and nutrition, as well as building up mental and emotional strength.

Holistic, individualized addiction treatment is a way forward that offers a new, better chance at life for those who have suffered from the impacts of addiction.

For those looking for a quality, individualized addiction treatment program for men just outside of Sacramento, visit Pathway Recovery’s website or call 916-735-8377 to get in contact with a qualified counselor.Mens only addiction treatment call today

 

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Understanding California’s Homeless Population and Addiction

How Cocaine Affects Your Appearance and Health: Cocaine Eyes

When you were younger, you might have heard stories about how substance use affected the appearance of friends or family members. Maybe in school, you were shown pictures of people who had an addiction and were told that you could end up like that through drug use.

In the past decades, there have been a variety of campaigns in schools and in the public space to try and dissuade people from getting into drug use and prevent addiction. Sometimes, the messaging could be very aggressive and instead of helping people, making people feel inadequate or too ashamed to seek help for substance use disorders. We want to make you feel welcome in getting treatment.

If you or someone you know uses cocaine, you might not approve. Or, you might be neutral or even view occasional, recreational use as a harmless thing. Wherever you stand, it’s always important to know how things you put into your body can affect your health.

At Pathways Recovery, we believe very strongly in developing programs to help people recover from substance use disorders and lead to healthier lifestyles. Healthier lifestyles don’t just mean the absence of drug use. Instead, it means that you commit to things like physical exercise and healthy eating habits in addition to maintaining your drug and alcohol sobriety.

We aim to provide you the most accurate information possible so you can take charge of your own healthy habits and regain control of your life. Today, we’ll be taking on the questions surrounding cocaine use.

Repeated cocaine use causes multiple physical changes, notably red-looking eyes. Why does this happen? Is there a way to prevent this side effect? Can I recover from a long habit of cocaine use? We’ll answer all these questions and more in this blog. Keep reading to find out!

What Is Cocaine?

Well, first, we need to explain the basics so that we all understand the same terminology and can get on the same page.

Cocaine is identifiable as a white and very fine milled powder. The cocaine base can also appear as small white rocks of unusual shapes. This is an illicit drug that is made from the coca plant, a plant native to South America. Cocaine is a stimulant drug. Stimulants are a specific class of drug that targets the body’s central nervous system and speeds it up. According to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, stimulants on the illicit market end up there because of diversion and interruption in legitimate channels of distribution.

Cocaine is used occasionally and in a very limited capacity in some medical operations. Sometimes it may be appropriate to use as local anesthesia in some surgeries. However, recreational cocaine use is illegal.

On the street, cocaine is sold in its powder form, but the illegal street drug trade can pose many dangers to users looking for their drug of choice. It has been observed that dealers often mix in other substances that look like cocaine into the cocaine powder mix. By charging a user the price for a pure bag of cocaine for something like a cocaine and kitchen flour mix, the dealer gets to keep the profits even though the bag would not be worth the price paid. The National Institute on Drug Abuse notes that common mixed substances besides flour include cornstarch and talcum powder.

Although a cornstarch mix might not sound all that dangerous, common kitchen and home items are not the only things that get cut with street cocaine. The National Institute on Drug Abuse also cautions that substances such as amphetamine, another kind of stimulant, or synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl can be used. These drugs cut with cocaine can make the chance of suffering an overdose more likely. Negative reactions to other drugs in a cocaine mix also pose a threat to the user who is unaware of the tempered cocaine.

As with many illicitly used recreational drugs, cocaine is often referred to as a variety of nicknames. Popular nicknames for cocaine include:

  • Blow
  • Coke
  • Crack
  • Rock
  • Snow

How Is Cocaine Used?

There are a variety of ways for an individual to use cocaine. Cocaine can be snorted in its powder form through the nose. The powder can also be dissolved into a liquid and then injected into a person’s bloodstream.

Some users might combine cocaine and heroin to create a concoction known as a speedball, which is then injected into a vein.

Although cocaine is typically seen in its powder form, it can also be smoked through its base form known as crack. Crack is rock crystal cocaine that looks like small white irregularly shaped rocks. The name “crack” is a reference to the sounds that the rock makes as it is warmed up. When crack is heated it lets off some vapors into the air, which users can inhale for a high. Crack can also be added as a topping of sorts to marijuana or tobacco and smoked in a cigarette form.

Cocaine’s Impact on Your Brain

Many people turn to substance use to chase those great feelings that they get off a high. But what causes those feelings?

Well, when you use cocaine, the drug increases the levels of dopamine, a natural chemical in the body, in the part of your brain that manages movement and rewards. Dopamine naturally exists in a certain amount and is produced by our bodies. It plays a big role in how we feel and is often associated with feelings of happiness of pleasure. You might have heard people suggest exercising can help you feel better because physical exercise can release hormones like endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin that can improve mood.

The body uses dopamine to send messages and communicate between nerve cells. Because of this function, dopamine is sometimes called a chemical messenger.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, dopamine is usually recycled back into the cell that it was released from, effectively shutting off that communication between cells. However, cocaine use prevents dopamine from being recycled back into the cell and causes it to build up. With lots of dopamine built up in the brain, the reward center of the brain will eventually become used to the excess dopamine and begin to reinforce the habit of using cocaine.

Cocaine is often taken in a binge—frequent and high doses of the drug. Cocaine binges are often done to maintain a high. When the brain is accustomed to high amounts of dopamine, the effects of a cocaine high are not as strong as before. Therefore, users need higher amounts of the drug to make themselves feel the same way.

Short-term Effects of Cocaine Abuse

In the short-term, cocaine will offer users some of the more pleasant effects, such as the high and energy that is often sought after by many users.

Typical short-term effects include:

  • Extreme and exaggerated feelings of happiness
  • Increase in energy
  • Higher mental alertness and awareness
  • Experiencing sensitivity, sometimes extreme sensitivity, to sight, sound, and touch
  • Feeling irritable or easily agitated
  • Suddenly developing paranoia (an extreme distrust of others)

Long-term Effects of Cocaine Abuse: Cocaine eyes

If you use cocaine for a long time, there are a variety of long-term effects that you could experience. As regular cocaine use continues for a long period of time, the toll on the body begins to show and you could suffer from poor health or complications.

Typical long-term effects include:

  • Constricted blood vessels
  • Dilated pupils (leading to sensitivity to light)
  • Increase in body temperature
  • High blood pressure
  • Restlessness
  • Shaking, tremors, or muscle twitches
  • Elevated pulse
  • Nausea

Bloodshot Eyes and Dilated Pupils: How Does Using Cocaine Affect the Eyes?

Many drugs can have an effect on the appearance of a user’s eyes. Even people who are not very familiar with substance use and addiction seem to have some kind of understanding that drug use can affect eyes. Usually, through drug education programs, media, and entertainment, drug use is portrayed in individuals through bloodshot or glassy eyes. In this regard, cocaine isn’t that different.

As a stimulant, cocaine use can trigger chemical and endorphin releases in the brain. The result of this is that the pupils can dilate. This means that the pupils (the small black circle in the middle of your eyes) will grow larger. When your pupils are dilated, they will expand and take in more light. This is what causes many on a cocaine high to be sensitive to light.

Think of when you last went to the eye doctor. It’s common in routine check-ups for the eye doctor to dilate your pupils using particular eye drops. These eye drops don’t just dilate your pupils, but they keep them in a dilated state for some period of time. This helps your eye doctor better inspect your eyes, but it can make your eyes sensitive to light because they will absorb more light. That’s why after an eye appointment sunglasses are typically offered.

Those who use cocaine may need to wear sunglasses or some other kind of protective gear in order to make themselves more comfortable. Cocaine can make lighting that doesn’t seem bright to other people, very bright, and highly uncomfortable to those experiencing the effects of cocaine.

You can observe pupil dilation yourself with just a mirror and a flashlight. If you shine a flashlight in one of your eyes, from the side so you can watch your pupil in the mirror, the pupil will shrink. When you move the light away, the pupil will grow back to its normal size. Be sure not to shine the flashlight into your eyes for more than a few moments! The growing and shrinking of your pupils is a sign of normal functioning eyes. This happens throughout the day in order to adjust your eyes to the level of light in a room so that you can see as best as you can.

If you walk into a dark room, your pupils will expand to try and let in light. You might notice that after a brief period of time, your eyesight adjusts in dark rooms and you can see better. Likewise, if you walk into the sunlight after sitting in a movie theater for a while, the light might seem blinding. However, after you give your eyes some time, they will constrict to let in less light and you won’t feel as though the light is as intense anymore.

Besides pupil dilation and light sensitivity, cocaine use can also cause blood vessels to expand. This can lead to redness and bloodshot eyes, which are commonly referred to as cocaine eyes. The redness occurs in the white part of your eye called the sclera.

Although this condition is colloquially called cocaine eyes, cocaine is not the only substance that is responsible for bloodshot eyes. The use of other substances such as marijuana, benzodiazepines, and depressants such as alcohol or sedatives can also contribute to redness in the eyes.

Seeking Help For Cocaine Addiction

If you or a loved one is suffering from Cocaine addiction, contact Pathways Recovery right away. We will work with you, your physician, and your family to determine a treatment plan that covers Cocaine addiction.

Pathways Recovery is a prestigious detox treatment center that services the greater area of Sacramento. Here at Pathways Recovery, we know how hard it is to start the road to recovery from drug addiction and alcohol addiction while having compassion and patience for those recovering. We have many services to cater to each individual in regards to their lifestyle and budget. Our detox treatment center is made to make everyone feel safe and at home with many of our services, including detox from Cocaine.

Call us today at (916) 735-8377 for further information on our services and see which one fits for you or a loved one. Don't think you are alone; we are here to help you on your road to recovery.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are eyes red after cocaine?

As a stimulant, cocaine will trigger certain hormonal and chemical releases in the brain. It can also prompt blood vessels to expand, which will make the eyes appear red.

How long after using cocaine do the eyes stay dilated?

This depends on the person and the amount of cocaine that has been taken. On average, after two hours half of the amount of cocaine in the body’s system has already been removed. Therefore, it could be concluded that dilated pupils might last at least several hours. If dilated pupils persist for days without continued cocaine use, you might consider seeing a doctor.

Why do eyes get bigger after doing cocaine?

The chemical consequences of cocaine use include the dilation of your pupils. Pupils are the small black circle in the center of both of your eyes. When you use cocaine, pupils dilate, that is, grow in size. When pupils grow, they take in more light. This can give the impression that your eyes are larger than they actually are. This can also lead to light sensitivity, just like during your visits to the eye doctor.

Meth Sores: What Are They, and What Does Recovery Look Like?

If you ever experienced any kind of substance use prevention education in school, you might recall being shown pictures of people who were addicted to a variety of substances.

Bloodshot eyes, unfocused gazes, and unappealing scabs or sores might be some of the examples that you saw projected on the screen. Your teacher might have warned you: “avoid using drugs if you don’t want to end up like this!”

Educational programs aimed to teach children about the dangers of drug use has been heavily criticized for the approach that it has taken to the topic. The approach often involves criticizing drug use and addiction, but treatment paths toward sobriety or discussion about the complex factors that often contribute to the development of addiction are ignored.

At Pathways Recovery, we know that addiction happens. We never want to shame anybody who has an addiction and understand that substances are not the only contributing factor in addiction. We’re certainly not here to lecture you. Instead, we open ourselves to the discussion and embrace the sharing of accurate information to support you or your loved ones in addiction treatment and recovery!

Today’s topic is all about those meth sores and some other curious symptoms that can happen as a side effect of meth use.

First, What Is Meth?

Meth, also known by its full name as methamphetamine, is a very strong stimulant. Meth is classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration as a Schedule II drug. This classification is based on the potential for the drug to be misused. Other Schedule II drugs include cocaine, oxycodone, Adderall® (used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder), Ritalin® (ADHD and narcolepsy treatment), and Vicodin® (pain management).

Stimulants are a specific category for certain substances that share similar characteristics. For example, both meth and cocaine are classified as stimulants. Stimulants can be both illegal and legal drugs. Meth and cocaine are illegal in the vast majority of cases, while other substances, such as Adderall, for example, are prescription medications that also happen to be stimulants.

Stimulants can result in a boost of energy, euphoric feelings, and an increase in concentration. These kinds of substances work by speeding up and energizing many of the body’s systems. This can cause several side effects that are related to faster-working bodily systems including high blood pressure and elevated heart rates. You might recognize the nickname “speed” as referring to meth. The name is definitely quite appropriate, especially given the increase in energy and alertness that comes with meth use.

There are a variety of ways in which meth can be used, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Meth can be smoked, snorted, transformed into an oral pill, or dissolved into a liquid such as water or alcohol to create a mixed solution that is injected into a vein.

In order to smoke meth, users will need a particular form of meth known as crystal meth. Crystal meth looks like small rock fragments or chunks of glass. It’s often blue or white. This appearance gives rise to other nicknames you might be familiar with such as “blue”, “crystal”, or “ice”.

What Does Meth Do To Your Brain?

Meth can be very addictive due to how it affects particular neurotransmitters in your brain. In particular, meth will encourage an increase in the amount of dopamine that your brain naturally produces. Think of dopamine as a kind of messenger for nerve cells in your body and especially the brain. Dopamine is very important in how we feel pleasure.

A substance like meth overloads your brain with the boost of dopamine that it produces. The quick and enormous amount of dopamine created due to meth use satisfies and greatly fulfills the brain’s natural reward system. By overloading the brain’s reward system with unnaturally large amounts of dopamine, a user will need to keep taking a sizable amount of meth to feel the same pleasure.

Eventually, this turns into an unfortunate cycle of meth use, which can transform into an addiction. Each time you use meth, your brain feels a great reward because of dopamine overload. That feeling can be powerful enough to make you want to take the drug again in order to achieve that same feeling.

This cycle is what makes tackling addiction so tricky. You might notice negative consequences of addiction on your health or relationships, but the reward that your brain craves is so powerful that you feel compelled to use and unable to stop or resist the craving for a dopamine overload.

What Are the Side Effects of Meth Abuse?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there are both short-term and long-term effects of using meth. Many drugs—even prescription ones—usually have some kinds of side effects.

Knowing what to expect from meth use can help you see what kinds of reactions are normal and better understand the long-term negative effects of substance use.

Short-term effects include

  • Increased energy
  • Increased alertness
  • Accelerated heart rate
  • Higher blood pressure
  • Higher body temperature

Long-term effects include

  • Increased risk of contracting diseases
  • Poor judgment (that can lead to risky or dangerous situations)
  • Worsening progression of HIV/AIDS
  • Severe tooth and gum decay (meth mouth)
  • Anxiety
  • General confusion
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations (sores and scabs as a result)

What Are Meth Sores?

You might have noticed that last symptom on the long-term: sores and scabs that result from hallucinations. This symptom probably sounds highly unappealing and undesirable to many people. You wouldn’t be entirely wrong in thinking that.

Sores are never a very appealing feature and more often than not, they’re indications of some underlying physical condition like a bad scratch that’s grown a scab or substance use in this case. So, what are these sores exactly? What do they look like and what creates them?

Meth sores are spots that often appear on the face and mouth area of a meth user. The face is one of the most common places for sores to appear, but they can also appear on the chest and arms. These sores are usually small round-looking patches of skin that appear red or irritated. Meth sores can look similar to acne and are sometimes mistaken for pimples or a rash.

Infected Meth Sores

When someone is quite deep into meth addiction, self-care and personal hygiene are not always the most urgent priorities in life. Hygiene might seem like a long and unnecessary routine when we’re feeling tired after a long day and hardly have the energy for a shower, but it turns out that good and regular hygiene is a very important part of living a healthy life and maintaining good health.

With a lack of good hygiene and general cleanliness, meth sores can become infected. Infected and untreated sores can become a potential danger to the individual. When you have an untreated infected sore, bacteria can easily enter your body through the wound. It might not seem like a big deal at first, after all, we’ve all gotten cuts before, and nothing too bad has ever happened. After a while, they seem to heal.

However, untreated wounds, whether they’re cuts or meth sores, also have the potential of becoming infected. That’s why when you get a cut, applying an antibiotic cream like Neosporin® and covering the wound with a bandage is a typical procedure.

Similarly, infected and untreated meth sores can spread harmful germs all around your body. Then from just one infected meth sore, more dangerous complications can potentially take place. In order to avoid more serious medical complications from an infection, it is always important for individuals to receive treatment for infected meth sores.

Infected meth sores aren’t usually too tricky to treat if they are treated early on. It’s always best to seek medical attention as early as possible to stave off any potential complications down the road. Nobody wants to deal with the issues that come from a spread of bacteria due to infection. It’s much simpler to deal with the initial infection first!

Meth Sores on the Mouth

The mouth is a common location for meth users to develop sores. There are a variety of reasons that contribute to the development of meth sores.

First, regular meth use will damage your teeth and gums to an extreme state creating the need for artificial replacements. Saliva production is cut short by meth use which leads to a drier mouth. Without the saliva to act as a protective shield, natural acids in your mouth will begin to eat into your teeth and gums, breaking them down and rotting them away.

Repeated meth use can also affect your appetite. You might develop a poor or decreased appetite but still crave sugary foods or drinks. Drinking lots of sugary drinks in combination with reduced saliva production only accelerates the breakdown of teeth and gums.

As we mentioned earlier, individuals who often use meth might not have the best personal hygiene practices. A lack of good dental hygiene, alongside tooth and gum decay, allows sores to form in the mouth.

If a meth user typically smokes crystal meth as a manner of use, the burns from the pipe can also cause sores in or around the mouth.

Meth Sores on the Skin

The face is another common region of the body where meth sores develop. Meth is a substance that can be dissolved in water or alcohol. This means that meth is what we call a water-soluble drug. Some users dissolve meth in water and inject the solution into a vein in order to achieve the high.

Meth that a user has injected into themselves can be sweated out. Sweat that forms around the face’s hairline will come into contact with the skin of the face. The toxic meth that gets sweated out of an individual’s pores can damage the skin and cause sores to form.

These sores look like acne or a kind of allergic reaction. Picking at the sores, a common occurrence, can also worsen them and lead to potential infection.

All About Meth Mites

Now, we’ve talked about some common places for sores, but what about the hallucinations that can cause sores? What is that about?

Formication is an important word to know here. Formication refers to the urge or compulsion to pick at the skin. This is a known side effect of prolonged meth use and many chronic users will pick at their own skin.

Meth use can cause dry patches of skin. These patches of skin can become uncomfortable and an individual might feel compelled to scratch or pick at them. The skin might appear red or look similar to acne or a rash.

Some meth users will experience hallucinations of meth mites. These individuals will experience a crawling sensation across their skin that makes them believe some kind of bug is crawling around on or underneath their skin. The sensation is most commonly experienced on the face and neck.

In an effort to relieve the sensation or get rid of the perceived bugs, people will pick at the skin. This skin picking can become an obsessive behavior and render the skin scaly, dry, irritated, and covered in sores.

The more someone continues to pick at sores, the longer it will take to heal, and there is an increased risk of infection.

Going in the Right Step to Seeking Treatment For Meth Addiction and Sores

If you or a loved one is suffering from Meth addiction, contact Pathways Recovery right away. We will work with you, your physician, and your family to determine a treatment plan that covers Meth addiction.

Pathways Recovery is a prestigious detox treatment center that services the greater area of Sacramento. Here at Pathways Recovery, we know how hard it is to start the road to recovery from drug addiction and alcohol addiction while having compassion and patience for those recovering. We have many services to cater to each individual in regards to their lifestyle and budget. Our detox treatment center is made to make everyone feel safe and at home with many of our services, including meth addiction treatment.

Call us today at 916-735-8377 for further information on our services and see which one fits for you or a loved one. Don't think you are alone; we are here to help you on your road to recovery.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do meth sores look like?

These sores are usually small round-looking patches of skin that appear red or irritated. Meth sores can look similar to acne and are sometimes mistaken for pimples or a rash.

How to treat meth sores on the face?

Sores that aren’t infected will eventually heal on their own and can be helped with good hygiene practices. If they are infected, seek medical attention. A doctor may need to help combat infection with antibiotics or other means.

Why do meth users get sores?

Some users will develop sores when the toxic substance of meth is released from pores as a user sweats. This will irritate the skin and cause sores.

Sores can also appear around the mouth area as a result of burns due to smoking meth or due to poor dental hygiene and a reduction of saliva, an effect of meth use.

Other times, dry skin or hallucinations of meth mites crawling across the skin will compel a person to pick obsessively at the skin, resulting in sores.

Can I force my loved one into rehab for their addiction? 

After 10 years of working in the field of addiction treatment I have seen and learned a lot. Every day I receive phone calls from all types of people including many who have a loved one who is spiraling out of control, caught in the cycle of an addiction. An addiction to alcohol, prescription medications, heroin, methamphetamines and other drugs including marijuana. Although now legal in CA and some other states marijuana these days is stronger than ever and the number of reported cases where an individual is delusional, paranoid and hallucinating is skyrocketing. Most people minimize marijuana but let me tell you, the weed these days is no joke. At the end of the day, the substance isn’t really the most important factor. If an individual is using any type of substance and causing damage to their bodies, their families, their work life, the bottom line is that they need professional help. But what do you do if you try talking to this person and desperately try to beg and plead with them to get help but they just wont?

The simple truth is that your loved one with the addiction is unlikely to change or go into rehab until they feel some serious pain from their own consequences.

Addicts and any of us for that matter usually don’t want to change until they are faced with the harsh reality that their behavior and choices are beginning to cause the loss of  any or all of the relationships, income, possessions, their job, food and any other items of value in their life. Most often times the loved ones in their lives can see clearly what is happening and take on all the negative emotions and consequences that the addict should be dealing with themselves.

The only way an addiction treatment center can help someone change is if an individual truly wants to change. They don’t always need to be fully excited about going into treatment. I mean who really dreams about going to rehab but you can help a loved one find their willingness to change and accept help for their drug and alcohol addiction. When a loved one rescues their addict out of the consequences of their addiction the addict really hasn’t felt the full magnitude of their own choices and behavior. You see an addict has an impaired brain and their brain and ability to make good decisions has been damaged. The pre-frontal cortex, the part of our brain that provides us with the ability to have good judgement is being damaged. When this is impaired humans lose the ability to clearly understand how their addiction is not only ruining their lives but also greatly affecting their loved ones. So, where most people can see that getting a DUI and getting arrested will cost substantial time and money and hardship which will likely cause them to make a different choice the next time they are faced with choosing to drink and drive or call an Uber the next time, the addict may minimize the incident if mom or dad is taking out loans to bail their son out of jail and pay for an attorney to help him reduce the penalties associated with the DUI. Consequences and clear boundaries are what make all the difference in the world when it comes to an addict finding their willingness to receive help.

For about the last year I have received a phone call every few months from the same woman with a son who is in his 40’s. She calls frantically looking for help for her son usually after something bad has just happened. She is often exhausted and overwhelmed and has been begging her son to go to a treatment center for help.  He has now been charged with 4 DUI’s and is facing prison and she is beside herself with worry and fear. She has spent a great deal of energy and money hiring attorneys to try and help him out of his situation including calling many different treatment centers to try and get him into a facility. Yet her son has never called us once to do the over the phone assessment we need to do. The willingness to even talk to a counselor about how he can begin to change is not there. It looks like prison is the likely path for him. The best thing she can do is seek support and help for herself because the worry is literally killing her. This is so so sad because she is suffering so much but she could learn how to step back and focus on taking care of herself instead of putting so much energy into someone who is unwilling to change. This would likely help her son wake up and call us or another treatment center and ask for help. She could simply hand him the number and say I hope you get help and leave the number with him. He is capable of dialing the number. We will answer and all he has to do is say I need help. Some people just won’t ever seek help but that doesn’t mean that 2 people or a whole family have to suffer because 1 person is unwilling to change. Many years ago when I was caught In the codependency cycle myself and my own life was sinking because I was so focused on my significant other who had a raging alcohol addiction that I thought I could change, someone helped me by shining a light on my situation and gave me this analogy. They said, “He’s the Titanic and you are holding on to a sinking ship and he is taking you down with him. You can’t control it. “ At that moment, it clicked for me because at that time I was completely exhausted, emotionally, physically, my work was suffering, my health was suffering and I was completely obsessed to the point of totally neglecting myself in every way. I was going down too and I had to stop or I was going to end up worse off than he was. My happiness was my own responsibility but I was giving all my power away to someone else and not taking responsibility for my own life.

Addicts will take out everyone and everything in their path as long as they are allowed to. So here is where things can change…..

What about having an intervention? Will this help someone into recovery?

Many times per week I also receive phone calls from people who call up saying, “I have a son and our family is going to have an intervention tomorrow, we want to know if you have a bed in your facility?” This is where I want to say “WAIT! STOP RIGHT THERE, Is there a professional leading the intervention?"

Addiction is a highly complicated brain disorder that causes the brain of an addict to become hijacked. Which in turn causes the individual with the addiction to lie, cheat, steal and focus solely on one thing, getting more of their drug of choice and to stop at nothing until they do. Dealing with an addict requires highly skilled professionals who know what the hell they are doing. It requires a great deal of education and understanding. An intervention done by the family without a professional usually ends in a worse disaster. If you are reading this and considering doing your own intervention….. PLEASE do not do it. Stop and get some professional guidance. What is most likely to happen is a huge family argument and lots of emotions being spilled out all over the place, threats, physical fights and in the end? The addict runs off faster and harder to their first love, their drug of choice to numb the pain and sink deeper into their addiction and isolate themselves from their loved ones ever more than before. Basically a home made intervention done with inexperienced individuals will almost always cause a greater disaster than where you began. This will push your addict deeper into their addiction.

What a trained interventionist provides is a great deal of education and leadership on how to most effectively change the direction of the entire family dynamics and to help the loved ones learn what is enabling the addiction to continue and how to set proper boundaries with the addict . An interventionist will educate and walk you through the process and be there for you every step of the way. An interventionist also provides an emotionally detached person who cannot be manipulated by the addict when it comes times for the actual intervention. They are your quarterback. Don’t do it alone.

When 3 or 4 people who are close to the addict all get on the same page and simultaneously begin to get clear on what is helping and what is harming and start to say no I will no longer help you until you get some help for your addiction, then the addict loses the power to be able to manipulate their loved ones and the addict will begin to become more concerned with human survival than scoring more heroin or running off to the liquor store.

When you let a loved one move into your house and provide them food and money to keep their cell phone working, insurance covered, car payment covered, you are enabling their addiction to survive and thrive. This is harming them. It is not helping them at all.

Most people do not by any means intentionally try to bring harm to their loved one. They usually are providing for their addicts basic human needs while worrying themselves sick, secretly hoping they can control or coerce their loved one into getting help.

All while begging, pleading, criticizing, arguing and telling their loved one how much they need to get help and how hard all of this is and how they are spending all their money on trying to help them. Trying to guilt and shame them into getting help almost never works.

So how do you help a loved one find their willingness to seek treatment for their addiction? Clear boundaries and follow through works almost every time

Here is a simple statement that you can use for guidance.

I love you and it’s become clear that I cannot help you get past this addiction. You need help from experts who know about your illness. I can no longer provide any help to you financially, emotionally or in any way until you are willing to seek help for your addiction. I am not willing to help support you financially and/or emotionally until you decide to seek help. Until then I will no longer provide any help financially and/ or emotionally and I will no longer allow you to live in my home, buy you food, pay for anything at all for you because it is not helping you and the stress is causing harm to me.

Now, the most important part of speaking these type of words is making 100% sure that you can and will follow through on what you speak. NEVER set a boundary and then allow anyone and especially the person who is addicted to violate the boundary. If you speak it and then don’t follow through you render yourself powerless and the addiction will gain more power over you and your loved one.

Most loved ones need help and support to actually be able to do this. It’s not easy for a parent to actually cut off any type of support and contact with their adult child who is actively destroying their life. It is natural for us all to attach to those we love and it can be excruciatingly difficult to have your adult kid begging for food or money. Excruciatingly painful to kick them out of the house and know that they are living outside in harsh conditions and not feel extreme anxiety and worried about them. These emotions are difficult and you need support from qualified people to get through this. However if you provide your loved one with the choice to either choose help or choose addiction then the choice has become theirs. It is necessary and healthy to give your loved one a choice. Choose to become healthy or choose to stay in addiction. By stepping out of the chaos and taking care of yourself by seeking support and guidance through this extremely complicated time you are helping your loved one find the survival skills within them to fight for their own life. Addiction is no joke and it takes lives every day. The drugs these days are harder and stronger than ever and if you want to help your loved one you need to seek help and put on your own oxygen mask for yourself first. Hand the consequences back to your loved one and let them deal with their life themselves. By helping them pay their bills, provide them food, provide them shelter, hire them an attorney to minimize consequences you are helping them avoid the very crisis they need to wake up and accept help.

Understanding Detox And Recovery From Suboxone

Understanding Detox And Recovery From SuboxoneWhen most people think of drug addiction, they think of marijuana, cocaine or heroin. However, prescription drug addictions are more common than ever. Addiction to one prescription drug often leads to other forms of addiction, particularly if your doctor has prescribed a substance to treat your original addiction.

Suboxone is one example of a drug that feeds off other addictions. Doctors prescribe Suboxone for patients already addicted to opioids such as OxyContin or heroin. However, patients can develop dependencies to this medication as well. If you are addicted to Suboxone, treatment for this substance and your original drug addiction is crucial.

Understanding What Suboxone Is

Suboxone contains a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine is an opioid medication, and naloxone blocks its narcotic effects. This way, a patient can take buprenorphine for chronic pain, anxiety, insomnia and other conditions without getting the “high” people often experience with opioids.

In theory, this should prevent opioid abuse. However, many patients overuse Suboxone for reasons other than highs. For example, they might use it in search of a better night’s sleep, or because their pain might be very severe.

Suboxone comes as a tablet and in a film or strip that dissolves under the tongue. Patients should never inject or crush Suboxone and mix it into liquid. Those who take this drug need to be tested frequently to ensure proper liver function. They must also wear medical alert tags or bracelets in case of an emergency, such as accidental overdose.

Complications From Suboxone Interaction

As with many other drugs, patients should never mix Suboxone with other prescriptions or alcohol. To avoid dependency, patients should not keep leftover Suboxone tablets or films, and they should endeavor to take Suboxone exactly as prescribed. Patients should consult doctors about missed doses: It’s often OK to let a missing dose go, but not always.

Suboxone and its variant, Subutex, are potentially dangerous prescription drugs. They underwent only 16 weeks of FDA testing before going on the market to treat addiction. Additionally, they remain somewhat obscure, receiving less research than similar drugs.

Suboxone Side Effects

What Are Suboxone Side EffectsSuboxone has a long list of side effects. Some are common and found with most prescription drugs. However, others are potentially dangerous. For example, Suboxone can make you extremely drowsy. This often leads to weakness and shallow breathing, which can cause severe respiratory distress and other life-threatening conditions, especially if the user has taken other drugs that slow the heart and breathing functions.

Nausea and vomiting are also common. Sometimes these side effects mimic withdrawal symptoms, even if you are taking regular Suboxone doses. Many people experience constipation, diarrhea and clay-colored stools, along with other gastrointestinal issues. Such issues may lead to malnutrition and overall debilitation. Contact your doctor immediately if you are struggling to eat and drink regularly while taking Suboxone.

Other Suboxone side effects also mimic other aspects of withdrawal. These include shaking, sweating and muscle pain or cramps. Patients who use the sublingual film may experience tongue pain or swelling. Numbness or redness inside the mouth is common as well. Arm and leg swelling also occurs, in many cases.

How Do I Know If I’m Addicted To Suboxone?

Due to its laundry list of side effects, it isn’t always easy to identify addiction to Suboxone or Subutex. Many patients do not seek addiction treatment until they experience overdose symptoms.

Early overdose symptoms include:

  • Clammy skin
  • Muscle flaccidity
  • Lowered heart rate and blood pressure
  • Circulatory or respiratory issues

If you suspect you are overdosing, contact your doctor immediately. He or she will treat the overdose and give you a full physical exam. The exam’s results will help clinicians tailor your treatment plan when you begin detox.

What To Expect During Detox And Recovery From Suboxone

Suboxone detoxification may feel harder than other detox regimens because it requires getting off a drug that was supposed to end a different addiction. During detox, you will probably deal with severe original symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia and panicking. This is why it is so vital to detox in an addiction treatment facility with professionals nearby to help.

Additionally, withdrawal from Suboxone or Subutex looks a bit different from most withdrawal processes. Many addicts mistake initial endorphin drops for withdrawal. However, true withdrawal does not begin until addicts start tapering off dosages. True withdrawal can take as long as 72 hours to begin, and the full process can last up to a month.

Many Suboxone withdrawal symptoms mimic those of other drugs, especially opioids. You will experience the worst physical and psychological symptoms within the first 72 hours after initial withdrawal. Symptoms include headaches, fever or chills, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Psychologically, you may experience resurgent original symptoms such as anxiety, agitation and insomnia. Some addicts get violent at this stage, but clinicians will help you avoid harming yourself and others.

During the first week of withdrawal, your physical symptoms will decrease, but you may still experience anxiety and mood swings. Within two weeks, the worst physical and psychological symptoms will decrease dramatically. However, you will probably experience cravings and depression. Inpatient treatment can help tremendously during this stage.

Suboxone Addiction Therapy

Addiction therapies will vary depending on your facility. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a must: Your therapist may use psychodrama or role-playing as part of it. Other facilities offer equine, art, music and recreational therapy, including group fitness classes, personal yoga, tai chi or qigong sessions.

Some facilities supplement detox with electroencephalogram (EEG) biofeedback, also called neurofeedback. Biofeedback helps you retrain your brain to respond to stress without opioids or Suboxone. Acupuncture may be a therapeutic option, and your health care provider may offer you vitamins and other supplements to reinstate proper nutrition.

Seeking Help For Suboxone Addiction

If you or a loved is suffering from Suboxone or Subutex addiction, contact Pathways Recovery right away. We will work with you, your physician and your family to determine a treatment plan that covers Suboxone and original opioid addictions.

Pathways Recovery is a prestigious detox treatment center that services the greater area of Sacramento. Here at Pathways Recovery, we know how hard it is to start the road to recovery from drug addiction and alcohol addiction while having compassion and patience for those recovering. We have many services to cater to each individual in regards to their lifestyle and budget. Our detox treatment center is made to make everyone feel safe and at home with many of our services, including opiate detox treatment

Contact us today for further information over our services and see which one fits for you or a loved one. Don't think you are lone; we are here to help you on your road to recovery.

Sacramento California Alcohol And Drug Abuse Rates And Statistics

Sacramento California Alcohol And Drug Abuse Rates And StatisticsSubstance abuse has become prevalent across the country. Heavily populated and urban areas, such as Sacramento, have seen a marked increase in usage rates in the past decade. In 2007, 29.7 percent of adults in California participated in binge drinking. Sacramento, meanwhile, showed a rate of 30.2 percent.

Fortunately, these numbers are beginning to fall for the first time. Sacramento has seen 29 percent fewer drug- and alcohol-related hospital admissions since 2012. This may be seen as a sign that prevention and treatment methods are working, but it does not mean that the danger in Sacramento has passed.

Indicators Of Sacramento California Alcohol And Drug Abuse Issues

There are two ways that information is gathered about drug and alcohol use. The first is through admission rates from treatment centers and hospitals. Additional statistics typically come from surveys conducted through medical facilities, schools, employers and other sources.

There are five major indicators that are used to gauge substance abuse:

  • Admissions to treatment facilities
  • Arrests in drug- and alcohol-related crimes
  • Motor vehicle accidents that happen under the influence
  • Hospitalization
  • Deaths

Admission Rates To Alcohol And Drug Treatment Centers

Admission rates are a reliable source of information, but they may not show the whole picture. According to estimates from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, or NIDA, only a fraction of addicts seek help. In 2009, 2.6 million individuals across the country received treatment at a specialized facility. This is out of 23.5 million people who reportedly needed treatment for substance abuse – meaning that only 11 percent were finding help.

A Growing Trend Of Addiction Treatment

sacramento-california-alcohol-and-drug-abuse-rates-and-statistics

The number of individuals seeking treatment has been climbing for many years, and experts attribute the lower overall usage rates to the fact that more users are finding help. After all, it can be difficult or even impossible to overcome addiction without professional assistance and support.

In 2000, only 5,708 people in Sacramento were admitted to treatment facilities for substance abuse. More than half of those patients, or 3,092, were female. By 2008, that overall number had grown to 8,756 and treatment was more prevalent among men. In fact, men have consistently been admitted more frequently to treatment programs since 2002.

Methamphetamine abuse was the most common reason for seeking treatment in Sacramento for several years, but in 2012, marijuana overtook the No.1 spot. Both of these are slightly surprising considering alcohol is the most prevalent cause in the rest of the country.

Back in 2000, 26.2 percent of total admissions in Sacramento were related to methamphetamine. The rest were:

  • 6% heroin
  • 2% alcohol
  • 4% cocaine
  • 1% marijuana
  • 5% other drugs

Substance Abuse Patterns In Age And Race

Substance abuse does not discriminate: Anyone can be drawn into the use of drugs and alcohol. That said, Caucasian patients make up most of the recorded cases at 45.6 percent. African Americans and Hispanics comprise 24.3 and 21.5 percent, respectively. All other racial groups comprise the remaining 8.6 percent.

Nearly half of the admissions (45.2 percent) came from adults aged 25 to 44 years in 2008. The second largest group is 17 and younger, with the smallest number of admissions coming from seniors 65 years and older.

Arrests Related To Drugs And Alcohol

sacramento-arrests-related-to-drugs-and-alcoholThe initial harm from substance abuse is to the user and his immediate family. The rest of the population begins to feel the effects when addiction results in crime – most notably, violent crime. An effective way to track drug-related crime is to examine the number of corresponding arrests.

The number of arrests in Sacramento has actually dropped since 2000 (when it was 9,720), although it peaked in 2006 at 10,931. These numbers include both felonies and misdemeanors. Drug-related crime rates in Sacramento are comparable to the rest of California, but remain slightly lower.

A majority of the arrests involve male culprits. From 2000 to 2008, an average of 76 percent of these arrests involved boys and men, ages 10 to 69. However, only 68 percent of treatment admissions were male, hinting that women may be more likely to seek help.

Motor Vehicle Accidents Involving Alcohol And Drugs

Another way to measure the impact of substance use is by examining the number of related motor vehicle accidents. Intoxicated drivers are involved in more than 57 percent of all motor vehicle crashes in California. More than 3,700 individuals were killed in single-vehicle incidents in 2004 alone.

There were more than 180,000 arrests for DUI in the same year, equaling 1 in every 121 licensed drivers throughout the United States. Thousands of people were killed in traffic crashes, and another 2,000 pedestrians and cyclists were struck by an impaired driver.

fatal-accidents-involving-drugs-and-alcohol-in-sacramento-californiaMost of these cases involve alcohol rather than other drugs. There also is a noticeable pattern of convicted individuals. Almost 75 percent of these offenders are regular heavy drinkers or full-fledged alcoholics, which leads many experts to believe that these people regularly drive while intoxicated.

The number of fatalities caused by DUI motor vehicle accidents has been steadily declining. There are two reasons attributed to this trend: newer vehicles have better safety engineering, and fewer people are drinking and driving. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (or IIHS) has been awarding crash-test ratings for many years, and new technologies have emerged that help compartmentalize the vehicle, provide increased support for the heads of occupants and more effectively restrain bodies during a crash.

Fewer people are involved in accidents involving impaired driving. From 1988 to 1998, the number of fatalities dropped an impressive 57.3 percent and has continued to steadily fall. In 1988, there were 18,503 deadly crashes involving alcohol. By 2014, there were only 9,967. The number is still too high, but the improvement is encouraging.

Hospitalization As A Result Of Substance Abuse

Sacramento HospitalizationThe Sacramento area also shows a lower rate of hospitalizations due to drugs and alcohol. In 2007, there were 205 cases for every 100,000 people statewide. Sacramento County, though, showed just 169 per 100,000. This equated to approximately 2,300 instances. The statistics include overdoses, but also take other accidents into account, such as falls or infections (as long as they were linked to substance abuse).

In 25 percent of hospitalizations, the gender was unspecified on the report, but the known cases show little difference between men and women: 38 percent were male and 36 were female, while the rest were unspecified.

Alcohol And Drug-Related Deaths

Death, of course, is the most serious potential danger of substance abuse. Cause of death reports are a sobering yet reliable way to gather information about those affected. Sacramento County showed fewer hospitalizations than the state average, but it has consistently seen a higher mortality rate. In 2002, there were 25.4 deaths per 100,000 people in the county, as compared to 20.1 per 100,000 in the state. By 2005, those numbers were 31.8 and 21.4, respectively.

There has been a noticeable decrease in deaths in the county since then. The state number was unchanged in 2007, yet Sacramento County saw its rate fall to 27.05. Of these deaths, 64 percent were male.

The Biggest Killers

Accidental drug poisoning is the most common cause of drug- and alcohol-related death. Out of 387 cases in Sacramento, 157 of them were related to overdoses. Alcoholic liver disease is a close second with 126 confirmed cases. Psychosis, dependence, myopathy, intentional overdoses and alcohol poisoning are some of the remaining causes.

Hope For The Future

Despite the growing national numbers, Sacramento County appears to be on the path to decreasing drug- and alcohol-related tragedies. Increased access to information and treatment centers likely contributed to the favorable statistics, but only time will tell how far they’ll drop and if such tactics can be deployed across the nation.

At Pathways Recovery, We Are Striving to Help the Sacramento Community Deal with the Problem of Substance Abuse in a Positive Manner, through Outreach and Therapeutic Treatment.

Contact Pathways Recovery

Here at Pathways Recovery, we pride ourselves on the services we provide for those seeking to heal from any drug and alcohol addiction. Weather yourself or a loved one, we provide the best treatment for any drug and alcohol addiction one might be experiencing. Our services include, but not limited to, drug and alcohol addiction treatment, outpatient treatment, and holistic services depending on each special individual’s needs. Our medical staff are well versed in the world of drug and alcohol addiction and have years of experience with helping many people through addiction. Here at Pathways Recovery, we are equipped to help with the difficulties of addiction and want to be part of your journey to a better you.

Call us, to speak with one of our well-informed associates to see how we can help you today on the journey of recovery.

National Methamphetamine Awareness Day Is Coming: What You Should Know

National Methamphetamine Awareness Day - Pathways Recovery CaliforniaNovember 30, 2016 is National Methamphetamine Awareness Day. Pathways Recovery is dedicated to eradicating all addiction, whether involving drugs or alcohol. We think it’s important, however, to know all you can about the various drugs out there. The more you know, the better you are able to avoid addiction.

Methamphetamine is highly dangerous and negatively affects hundreds of thousands of people every year. Yet, the recognition of National Methamphetamine Awareness Day is somewhat recent. It was first recognized in 2006, making November 30 one of the "younger" drug awareness days in America. As we learn more about methamphetamine and raise awareness of it, we can work to prevent more people from using this drug.

Why National Methamphetamine Awareness Day Is Important

Since 2012, there has been a rise in methamphetamine usage. In 2012, an estimated 1.2 million people reported using the drug in the past year. In a 2013 survey, an estimated 595,000 people in the United States used methamphetamine in the last month, as compared to 353,000 total users in 2010. In 2012, 19.4 percent of drug offenses involved methamphetamine. Many offenders were convicted for meth trafficking. Offenders were found in possession of 3.3 to 11 pounds of methamphetamine.

Surprisingly, sentencing for methamphetamine possession, trafficking and personal use has become less harsh since 2012. Although 98.9 percent of methamphetamine offenders were sent to prison, only 34.1 percent of offenders received the recommended minimum sentence or longer.

In the years between 2008 and 2012, 40 percent of methamphetamine offenders received a sentence outside applicable guideline ranges. In many cases, this was because the state or federal government encouraged a below-range sentence. While the average minimum sentence guidelines for methamphetamine use remains the same, average sentences have decreased.

Is There An 'Average Methamphetamine Offender'?

Most methamphetamine traffickers convicted in 2012 were male (about 80 percent). Just over half of these individuals had no prior criminal history, and 68 percent were United States citizens. In 2012, most methamphetamine traffickers were white or Hispanic (47.6 and 45.4 percent, respectively). Only 2.5 percent of traffickers were black, and 4.5 percent were of other races.

Methamphetamine users are often young. In 2012, the average age of someone sentenced for methamphetamine use or trafficking was 35 years old. About 23.5 percent of reported users were minors or participated minimally in the offense, which decreased their sentences. These statistics indicate the average methamphetamine user or trafficker is a young white male. However, anyone can use methamphetamine and become addicted, and they could face serious negative consequences.

Types Of Methamphetamine

When most people think of methamphetamine, they think of crystal meth. While this is a popular and dangerous drug, there are several other forms of methamphetamine.

Most users take methamphetamine in one of three ways: The first is crystalline, which comes in an ice or crystal form. The second is powder (also known as “speed”). Third, some people take the methamphetamine base.

Methamphetamine derivatives are also popular. One derivative is ecstasy, which is commonly sold as a tablet. Methamphetamine derivatives are sometimes used as ingredients in herbal or vitamin supplements because they increase the user’s energy.

The Effects Of Methamphetamine

Methamphetamine users swallow, snort, smoke or inject the drug. Many users choose methamphetamine because it provides short-term bursts of high energy and alertness. As with many other drugs, methamphetamine cause a sense of euphoria, which often leaves users addicted to the emotional high.

The high energy associated with meth can cause:

  • Increased talkativeness
  • Shaking hands
  • Teeth grinding
  • Profuse sweating
  • Jaw clenching
  • Dry mouth
  • Nervousness
  • Paranoia
  • Frequent meth usage often causes nausea and vomiting, decreased appetite, libido changes and aggression or hostility.

    The Dangers Of Methamphetamine

    Long-term methamphetamine users experience a range of severe physical, mental and emotional symptoms. Extreme weight loss as well as deterioration of the mouth, teeth and skin are all common. In some cases, meth users experience brain damage and memory loss, which can permanently affect cognition.

    Many meth users sustain organ problems, such as:

    • Weakened heart
    • Kidney damage
    • Liver damage

    If the methamphetamine was snorted or smoked, the user may suffer from respiratory diseases and damage to his or her nose, sinuses and lungs.

    The psychological symptoms associated with methamphetamine use are often debilitating, too. Meth users may experience mood swings or depression. Some engage in violent behavior. In some cases, long-term methamphetamine usage leads to psychosis, strokes and brain damage similar to Alzheimer’s disease.

    Awareness Brings Solutions

    If you or a loved one is suffering from any kind of addiction, not just methamphetamine (crystal meth), please call us today and speak to one of our specialists, no matter what the drug or alcohol addiction you face. We have the solution!

    Here at Pathways Recovery, we pride ourselves on the services we provide for those seeking to heal from any drug and alcohol addiction. Weather yourself or a loved one, we provide the best treatment for any drug and alcohol addiction one might be experiencing. Our services include, but not limited to, methadone detox, drug and alcohol rehab, and holistic services depending on each special individual’s needs. Our medical staff are well versed in the world of methadone addiction and have years of experience with helping many people heal. Here at Pathways Recovery, we are equipped to help with the difficulties of addiction and want to be part of your journey to a better you.

    Call us, to speak with one of our well-informed associates to see how we can help you today on the journey of recovery.

    5 Surprising Myths About Addiction

    5 Surprising Myths About AddictionWhen it comes to those suffering from addiction, there are many misconceptions. Unfortunately, these fallacies can lead to assumptions and preconceptions that prevent individuals from getting the help they need.

    It’s important for addicts as well as their loved ones or anyone who has been affected by addiction to understand more about it, including the truths and myths surrounding addiction.

    Five Myths About Addiction

    So, what are the most common myths when it comes to addiction and individuals struggling with substance abuse? Here are five to consider:

    Myth #1: Addiction Is A Choice

    Addiction Is A ChoiceNo one chooses to be at the mercy of drugs or alcohol. Addiction is a disorder that alters brain chemistry and makes it increasingly difficult to stop using. Genetics and environmental factors also play a part in the risk of addiction.

    Myth #2: Addicts Are Bad People Who Need To Be Punished

    There is a common perception that all individuals suffering from addiction are corrupt, lazy, and misguided. Although addiction can perpetuate bad behaviors in some people, even good people, professional and appropriate treatment is the answer and not punishment or jail time.

    Myth #3: Addicts Usually Only Have One Substance Of Choice

    While there are plenty of alcoholics who have never touched another substance, and likewise, drug addicts who have only one drug of choice, the reality is many people mix drugs to increase their high or to come down from another. Teens and young adults are most likely to experiment with multiple substances. Unfortunately, mixing substances is riskier and harder to treat.

    Myth #4: People Abusing Legal Prescription Drugs Are Not Really Addicts

    People Abusing Legal Prescription DrugsInterestingly, many people believe that those who have an addiction to prescription drugs are different than others suffering from street drug or alcohol addiction. Yet, the reality is that prescription drugs have the same addictive properties as illegal substances. Abusing Vicodin, Xanax, Adderall or other prescription drugs can possess the same level of addiction as drugs on the street.

    Myth #5: You Need To Shame Addicts Into Change

    You Need To Shame Addicts Into ChangeUnlike individuals with chronic diseases such as diabetes or epilepsy, those suffering from the disease of addiction are often not given the level of treatment or care they need for long-term recovery. Some treatment centers use shame as a tool to initiate change in their patients, yet this approach often backfires and results in a quick relapse.

    Get The Help For You Need For Drug Or Alcohol Abuse

    If you or a loved one is struggling with the bondage of substance abuse, the first step in getting the help you need is by calling the caring and professional staff at Pathways Recovery. We offer customized detox and treatment programs along with family education and much more. Call us today!

    Debunking Myths About Substance Abuse

    Pathways -- Debunking Myths About Substance Abuse -- 08-23-16Common Myths About Substance Abuse and Addiction

    Ever since Richard Nixon's "war on drugs" started over 40 years ago and Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" campaign began in the 1980's, addiction treatment professionals have been fighting an uphill battle against myths and stereotypes related to substance abuse and addiction treatment.  Considering that substance abuse and addiction treatment cost this country about $600 billion per year in medical, criminal, social, and economic costs, it is high time (no pun intended) to debunk some of these myths and stereotypes.  This article attempts to do so by providing a brief summary of some of the myths and stereotypes and talking about the realities of substance abuse and addiction treatment.

    Myth #1:  It's impossible to prevent substance abuse.  People who are going to use drugs are going to use drugs.

    This myth is supported by the scare tactics, fear, and hyperbole surrounding substance abuse.  Instead of looking into the reasons that people decide to abuse drugs, the "war on drugs" has turned substance abuse into a criminal and moral issue where people requiring addiction treatment have weak character or bad morals.  The reality is that several risk factors are very good indicators of an individual's likelihood to abuse drugs.  These include environmental factors like growing up in poverty or in a dangerous neighborhood, living in an alcoholic household while growing up, losing parents at an early age either through death or divorce, and mental and emotional factors like learning disabilities and mental disorders.  When we begin to address these risk factors,  then we will begin to prevent substance abuse and leave the "Just Say No" mythology behind.

    Myth #2: Addiction is a voluntary behavior.

    While it may be true that many people start out as recreational drug users or social drinkers, the progressive nature of addiction eventually leads addicts to a point where choice is no longer an option.  Over time continued drug abuse and heavy drinking will change the addict's or alcoholic's brain in such a manner that compulsive and uncontrollable substance abuse becomes their reality.  No matter how much will power they may have, their physical and psychological dependence on drugs and alcohol makes get clean and sober almost impossible without some form of addiction treatment program where a workable solution for staying off of drugs and alcohol is attainable.

    Myth #3: Marijuana is not addictive and it's not a gateway drug.

    While many people who use marijuana recreationally have no major consequences, other people do develop dependence on the drug and you would be hard pressed to find a hardcore drug user who didn't have some amount of marijuana use in their drug use history.  Certainly the same thing can be said about alcohol which is legal.  So this is not an argument one way or the other for the legalization of marijuana.  Rather this is a statement that addiction is a personal issue and any form of mind altering substance can contribute to the progression of the disease of addiction.  So, for anyone who has addiction as part of their make-up marijuana should be avoided.

    Myth #4: Someone has to want to pursue addiction treatment for it to be effective.

    Many people enter into addiction treatment programs against their will by either a court order or through family pressure.  This does not mean that the treatment for their addiction that they receive while they are in the program will be ineffective.  In fact, many studies have shown that people who enter into addiction treatment programs unwillingly do better than average in their addiction treatment efforts.

    Myth #5: Substance abuse treatment should be a one shot deal.

    addiction treatmentLike many chronic diseases addiction may require more than one treatment.  Certainly it is common for people with diabetes to undergo continuous treatment to keep it under control, and it is not uncommon for people with diseases like cancer to undergo more than one treatment when their disease returns.  Certainly many people with substance abuse problems have quit "cold turkey", but the majority of people requiring addiction treatment will require longer term treatment or in many cases repeated stays at addiction treatment facilities.

     Myth #6 Addiction treatment doesn't work.

    With the growing acceptance that addiction is a disease, substance abuse programs have changed their treatment methodologies accordingly with the understanding that there is no "magic bullet" for addiction treatment.  The reasons why people become addicted to drugs and alcohol vary.  So it is important to provide a variety of addiction treatment methods which can address the needs of the individual addict.  By improving the way addiction treatment is applied and working on the reasons why people got involved with substance abuse in the first place, the success rate for addiction treatment has shown drastic improvements.  Recent studies have shown that addiction treatment reduced drug use by 40 to 60 percent.  There are also side benefits demonstrated by effective addiction treatment including a reduction in crime and HIV infection and improvements in addict's ability to become gainfully employed after treatment.

    This is certainly not a complete list of the myths and stereotypes surrounding addiction treatment and substance abuse.  The bottom line is that knowledge is the most important asset one can have when seeking help for themselves or a loved one.  The road of recovery from substance abuse is usually a long one, but the destination is worth the effort.  Especially when you consider the consequences of untreated addiction.  Addiction is a disease, and diseases kill people.  Or at a minimum they make their quality of life so poor that life just isn't worth living anymore.

    If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse and is seeking answers about addiction treatment, contact a professional in the field of addiction treatment.  Unless your family doctor is a specialist in addiction medicine don't trust their advice without doing research on your own.  The knowledge you acquire through doing the work yourself may be the difference between life and death.

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    Addiction In The Elderly

    Addiction in the ElderlyProblems with addiction can affect people of all ages. Unfortunately, senior citizens face an increased risk of complications and mortality as the result of substance abuse. Learning more about elderly substance abuse can help those senior citizens affected find help, hope, and a better quality of life during the late stages of life.

    According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc., 2.5 million seniors have a problem with drugs or alcohol. Almost half of all nursing home residents have alcohol abuse problems, and physicians hand out around 17 million prescriptions for potentially addictive sedatives and painkillers. Benzodiazepines top the list for prescription substance abuse across all ages.

    Why Senior Citizens Abuse Substances

    Senior citizens who abused substances at an earlier age may continue to engage in self-abusive behaviors later in life. These individuals are long-term drug abusers who now fall into the category of elder substance abusers.

    Like substance abuse in younger people and adults, late-onset elderly substance abuse begins with unhappiness, loneliness, boredom, or a desire to change. Instead of seeking support and help from others, many seniors turn to alcohol or prescription drugs.

    Some senior citizens may develop a substance abuse problem unintentionally. They may forget when they took their last pills or accidentally take the wrong dose. Physicians can also prescribe potentially addictive pain relief substances without asking about or being told about other prescriptions. Seniors may avoid telling physicians about one prescription or another, and within a period of months, they experience the signs of addiction.

    The Importance Of Substance Abuse Recovery In Elderly Individuals

    Addiction is unhealthy at any age, but it presents particular risks for elders. Senior citizens don’t have the same metabolisms as younger people, and their brains may react more easily to certain substances and to lower dosages.

    Over time, physicians may diagnose side effects as other health complications, including diabetes and depression. An addicted person’s health will continue to decline due to overmedication and a failure to address the root cause. Without treatment, addicted seniors can face an increased risk for heart attacks, stroke, fractures, and other potentially serious health conditions. At any age, substance abuse contributes to an increased risk of death.

    With substance abuse help, seniors can take steps to overcome withdrawal and regain a previous quality of life. Those who recover may experience improved energy levels, better mood stability, and more meaningful connections with loved ones.

    Signs Of Addiction In The Elderly

    Loved ones often play an important role in substance abuse identification and recovery. Family members and close friends can watch out for the following symptoms as red flags of a potentially harmful situation:

    • Memory problems not associated with a diagnosed medical condition
    • Unexplained bruises or broken bones
    • Complaints of chronic pain
    • A desire to spend an inordinate amount of time alone
    • Failing to maintain basic hygiene
    • Loss of interest in life or relationships
    • Loss of interest in activities that once brought an elderly person joy
    • Overeating or not eating enough

    Many of these symptoms are also warning signs for other medical conditions or even elder abuse, making substance abuse somewhat difficult to spot. Someone close to an elderly individual who understands the person’s lifestyle, habits, preexisting health conditions, and medication regimen may have a better opportunity to recognize potential warning signs of substance abuse.

    What To Do If You Suspect Substance Abuse

    If you notice any symptoms of substance abuse, consider checking prescriptions for appropriate dosing. For alcohol abuse, you may find evidence of consumption in hidden areas around the home or in the trash. Take the time to discuss a possible problem with alcohol or prescription medications.

    Avoid using an accusatory tone or language. Instead, you can offer to help. Seniors who abuse substances will likely need help from a qualified recovery support center. Talk with possible recovery programs about the intervention and recovery process. Elderly individuals often need specialized care to detox and recover from substance abuse without experiencing serious health complications.

    Awareness can improve response to substance abuse in seniors. Instead of ignoring the situation, family members and loved ones must take an active role in understanding, preventing, and addressing elder substance abuse.