Georgia Drug Endemic?


2016 has been a tough year for drug traffickers and distributors. Atlanta has led several drug busts that beg the question: is Atlanta experiencing a drug endemic? While drug use is not uncommon across the United States, recent busts worth over $1 million suggest perhaps that Atlanta has a serious drug problem.

Where it Happens

Drug busts have taken place in nearly every corner of Georgia and range from marijuana and heroin to cocaine and methamphetamine (meth). John’s Creek police seized nearly 20 pounds of candy laced with THC earlier this month, while down in Rockdale County, over $600,000 worth of drugs were removed from a resident’s home in June. According to Fox5, the drugs removed were heroin and cocaine. The problem spans the entire state and has become a huge problem for the state of Georgia, not just Atlanta.

Who Uses and Abuses Drugs?

There tend to be misconceptions about who exactly is most likely to use and/or abuse drugs in their lifetime. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health suggests that drug use is widespread among teenagers, men and ethnic groups.

The demographic making up the largest group of users is teenagers. Their drugs of choice include prescription pills (Vicodin and Adderall), marijuana and artificial marijuana. Considering that most people who try drugs do so in high school, this isn’t too shocking, yet unfortunate nonetheless. The easy access to these drugs could also play a role in usage. Nearly every teen has access to inhalants such as bath salts and hairspray.

Another group that has seen increased illegal drug use is the baby boomers. DrugAbuse.com states that this is “partially due to [their] historically higher rates of illicit drug use compared to those of previous cohorts.” Rates of cocaine use among baby boomers quadrupled while heroin abuse doubled. Despite this, baby boomers’ drug of choice is marijuana.

Drug abuse among the population tends to be more rampant in males. There’s a clear separation depending on the drug, but overall, men tend to abuse drugs more than women. They’re more likely to choose performance-enhancing drugs while women choose prescription pills says DrugAbuse.com.

So what drug is most commonly abused in the United States? Across the board, marijuana is the most widely used and abused drug out there. This falls in line with many of the recent busts here in Georgia. While state and federal agents are constantly trying to win the war on drugs, it seems that drug abuse keeps popping up everywhere, regardless of age, gender or location.

Drug abuse is a serious health problem that oftentimes requires the help of friends, family and a treatment center. Red Hawk Recovery offers a solid solution in Atlanta for sober living. Reach out today at 865.441.1020 or 404.906.8646.

Drug Addiction


There’s a misconception that drug addiction simply requires someone to choose to stop using drugs, when, in reality, this is nearly impossible. Drugs are brain-altering substances that can make quitting seemingly impossible. We’ll explore what happens to the brain on drugs that makes it so hard to get sober and how to treat drug addiction for the long haul.

Like many other addictions, a drug addiction revolves around the psychological, and sometimes physical, need for drugs. DrugAbuse.gov notes that it’s a “chronic, often relapsing brain disease that causes compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences to the [addict] and to those around him or her.” This compulsion leads rather quickly to abuse and addiction. The reason? Repeated use (or sometimes just one use) of drugs alters your brain chemistry to the point that your body actually needs drugs to survive.

How Drugs Affect the Brain

Our brains have a multitude of chemicals that are released at certain times to help keep us healthy. Sometimes, these chemicals aren’t produced or are produced in excess, which can have drastic effects on us. For example, someone with depression may not produce enough dopamine and be put on medication that aids in dopamine production.

While our brains are magnificent machines, they can also be tricked easily by varying drugs. Some drugs have a similar cell structure as the brain’s neurotransmitters. The brain naturally creates these, but the drugs trick it into sending abnormal messages due to the similar structures of the cells. Another way drugs can get one up on the brain is through the over-production of these neurotransmitters (dopamine), which overloads the pleasure center of the brain. The excess dopamine is what causes that “feel good” high that abusers are typically hoping to achieve.

Creating repeated “feel good” sensations can be equated to Pavlov’s dog experiment. Every time he rang a bell and gave the dogs food, they drooled, even later in the experiment when there was no food. The dogs equated the bell with food. Drugs are training your brain to use drugs because it stimulates your brain’s pleasure center. Your brain learns to equate feel-good feelings with drugs and creates less dopamine when the addict isn’t high. Ultimately, this leads to the brain no longer processing the same experience of joy in more mundane experiences.  And this is why an addict can’t simply walk away from drugs.

Treatment for Drug Addiction

We always suggest prevention through education, but understand that sometimes, despite the best efforts, drug addiction prevails. If this does happen, there are a plethora of treatment options available. Therapy, paired with addiction treatment medication, has been proven effective. The key is a strong support system free of judgment. We recommend rehabilitation and therapy to achieve and maintain sobriety.

Addiction is a serious health problem that oftentimes requires the help of friends, family and a treatment center. Red Hawk Recovery offers a solid solution in Atlanta for sober living. Reach out today at 865.441.1020 or 404.906.8646.

The Implications of Alcoholism


One of the more common addictions is alcoholism. On a broad scale, alcoholism is a person’s inability to control their drinking, despite the problems it may cause in their personal and professional lives. Alcoholics have a physical need and desire to drink alcohol and can’t control how much they consume. They are dependent on alcohol.

While there are many signs that suggest alcoholism, it’s important to remember that alcoholics are often the last to realize they have a problem because they’re in denial. We may be able to easily diagnose an alcohol problem (over time), but they may not see anything wrong.

Causes

While a heroin addiction can begin after just one use, alcoholism can take months to years to fully develop into a disease. It typically starts with regular consumption that, over time, can alter brain chemicals responsible for dopamine production and impulsiveness. Alcohol raises the dopamine in our brain, which creates that feel good feeling. That alcoholic is trying to achieve that feeling and needs more alcohol to get there as they build a tolerance. This leads to excessive drinking and eventual alcoholism.

Other environmental and genetic factors include:

  • Genes: if there are family members that struggle with alcoholism or alcohol dependency, it’s more likely someone else in the family will become an alcoholic
  • Access: if alcohol is cheap and accessible, the individual may be more likely to develop alcoholism
  • Low self-esteem and depression: individuals may use alcohol to cope with their mental illnesses
  • Metabolizing alcohol: individuals that require more alcohol to experience the feel good feelings have a higher risk of developing alcoholism

 

Symptoms

Like every other addiction, there are symptoms of alcoholism to watch out for if you’re concerned someone you know may be an alcoholic. Some of these warning signs include:

  • Drinking alone and in secret
  • Hiding alcohol in unlikely places such as under the bathroom sink or in dresser drawers
  • Needing to drink
  • Chugging alcohol to get drunk quickly (to experience “feel good” emotions)
  • Problems with money, relationships and work due to drinking

 

Treatment Options

With all recovery options, the first step is to admit that the individual has a problem. This is often one of the more difficult steps, but most necessary. Where they go from here is entirely up to them. There are so many options for treatment, but, ultimately, the alcoholic need to do what is best for them. Some great options for recovery include:

  • Counseling
  • Treating the underlying problems first (depression, self-esteem, anxiety)
  • Recovery centers
  • Support groups (AA)
  • Detoxification
  • Remaining abstinent once sobriety is achieved

Addiction is a serious health problem that oftentimes requires the help of friends, family and a treatment center. Red Hawk Recovery offers a solid solution in Atlanta for sober living. Reach out today at 865.441.1020 or 404.906.8646.

 

Road to Recovery


The path to recovery is a long and arduous one that requires time, dedication and support. Because the source of addiction (abuse, stress, anxiety) varies greatly between addicts, the road to recovery will also differ for each individual. Some may relapse, others may struggle through the process and some may quit cold turkey. The approach can change, but there are typically five stages of recovery for everyone.

Awareness & Early Acknowledgement

Awareness isn’t typically something addicts realize on their own. Family and friends are usually involved and help the addict make the realization that they need to make some changes. This is by far the most important step in the recovery process. The individual needs to realize they have a problem before they can attempt to fix it. After months or years of denial, it can be tough to acknowledge that they have a problem, but encouragement can help.

Consideration

The next step on the road to recovery involves taking action. While the addict has acknowledged their problem, they must now establish that they are indeed ready to take the necessary steps to recovery. This step typically involves getting education around the impact addiction has on both their life and those around them. This allows the individual to see beyond their pain and address how their actions have negatively affected friends and family.

Exploring Recovery

After consideration comes the exploration phase. This includes actions such as looking into moderation and/or abstinence. Education plays a big part here as the addict is truly considering a sober life, talking to friends and family who may have been through a similar struggle and gathering important information.

Early Recovery

Next is early recovery. While it may seem like the appropriate time to celebrate, there is still significant risk, namely relapse. In this stage, addicts have stopped using substances and remain substance free. They are building a new life, which can be trying in itself. They are leaving behind people that had a negative influence on them, substances and a lifestyle.

Relapse can be common in this stage since addicts haven’t yet learned how to avoid slipping back into old ways. However, for those that don’t relapse, this can be a great place to learn new ways to cope with life’s stressors.

Active Recovery & Maintenance

The final step is a lifelong process to maintain sobriety. The individual realizes that their work is never done and that relapse could be just around the corner. To maintain their sober lifestyles, individuals monitor their thoughts and actions and keep a close support system. This support system can be elemental in staying sober even when temptation arises. This stage begins the rest of an individual’s life, their new life, to ongoing recovery.

Recovery is a long process for both the addict and those around them, but with a strong support system, a solid recovery program and dedication, recovery can be achieved.

Addiction is a serious health problem that oftentimes requires the help of friends, family and a treatment center. Red Hawk Recovery offers a solid solution in Atlanta for sober living. Reach out today at 865.441.1020 or 404.906.8646.

What is Addiction?


It is thought that addiction can be overcome with strong will and good intentions, and that those who can’t quit their addiction lack some kind of willpower or morals. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Addiction can take many forms, from drug and alcohol abuse to food addictions to gambling addictions. But how are these addictions different, or rather, are they different?

To understand what causes addiction and how to treat it, we must first recognize what constitutes addiction. According to PhyschologyToday.com, “addiction is a condition that results when a person ingests a substance or engages in an activity that can be pleasurable but the continued use/act of which becomes compulsive and interferes with ordinary life responsibilities.” Addiction can be a result of trying to cope with life.

People typically become addicted to varying activities/substances as a way to deal with stress and constantly trying to achieve a feeling they can only feel with help from whatever their substance or activity of choice is. So while addictions vary, they all share one fundamental element: trying to cope and hoping to achieve feelings of euphoria. This is when the brain comes into play.

While abusing substances or engaging in behaviors that are addictive, the abuser can feel a rush of dopamine, which creates a feel good feeling. These can cause lasting changes in brain functionality that are challenging to undo. For example, when we do something that makes us happy, our brain’s “reward center” produces dopamine. However, when on drugs, the brain is overloaded, which causes feelings of euphoria. These euphoric feelings reinforce substance abuse. Hence, addiction. This is why treating addiction can be a long road.

Addiction is a serious health problem that oftentimes requires the help of friends, family and a treatment center. Red Hawk Recovery offers a solid solution in Atlanta for sober living. Reach out today at 865.441.1020 or 404.906.8646.

Testimonial: Erik D


My experience with a recovery residence/halfway house

My name is Erik, and I am an alcoholic and drug addict. It was late winter 2013, and my disease was at its prime. I thought after a long stint in prison, that I would be able to control my drinking and using. That was not the case, and shortly after being released from prison, I continued using, and used more heavily than ever. I found myself homeless and alone. No one would talk to me anymore from my past. Family, friends, my daughter, and even the people I got drunk and high with would no longer tolerate my presence or behavior.

I had been going to AA meetings before I had been locked up, but had never done any work in AA. I found myself going to meetings, getting drunk, and ending up back at meetings out of desperation. My disease was so present that I had a daily struggle with suicide. Homeless, broke, suicidal and completely hopeless, God sent me an angel. Duane, a member of the NABA AA club, saw me in the parking lot of the clubhouse begging for food and money. He and some other AA members took me to eat at Donnie’s Home Cooking on Clairmont Road. They told me they knew of a halfway house where I may be able to get a bed. The people at the halfway house accepted me and I texted my mother, who would not accept any calls from me months prior. I told her I needed money for an entry fee to get into a halfway house. She replied saying she would pay the entry fee, and for me to never contact her again. So, my journey began.

After arriving at the halfway house, I felt safe for the first time in a long while. Something had changed in me, and it was simply this – I was willing to get help. The staff at the halfway house made me accountable. They took us to AA meetings daily and wanted us to get a sponsor. It was a requirement that we work the steps and really be a part of recovery. They taught me how to live sober by interacting and living with other men that were in the same position. I learned to have fun sober as well. I will be sober 3 years on June 14, 2016.

If it wasn’t for the halfway house, I would surely be dead today. The halfway house worked for me because I took advantage of the help they offered and it completely saved my life. I give back to the AA community by leading Big Book studies and staying in touch with the people who were important in my early sobriety. I have met beautiful friends in AA, like Marty and Catherine Wood. I remember the day Marty first picked me up. I was one month sober and he took me to dinner and a meeting. We have been close like brothers ever since. I have been married for one year in July of this year. Catherine has been a monumental woman in my life as well.

In my opinion, it was God and the people at the halfway house that saved my life. They gave me one more chance and I’m so glad I took the initiative to listen to their guidance. I see people die from this disease far too much. But, I also see people like my wife and myself who do recover and are able to live happily and be a contributing member of society. Thank God, AA, and the halfway house for taking a gamble on an old drunk like me. Today, I am a man of God, thanks to them!

Sober Living Becoming a Popular Solution


Sober Living Environments (SLEs) are defined as facilities used by people recovering from substance abuse which serve as an interim environment between rehab and their future lives. Sober Living Environments grew out of a need to have safe and supportive places in which people could live while they were in recovery. They are primarily meant to provide housing for people who have just come out of rehab (or recovery centers) and need a place to live that is structured and supporting for those in recovery. (Wikipedia)

Sober living homes started in the 1970s on the west coast; however, much has changed about the way they operate. Standards can vary greatly and it is important that the recovering addict choose a sober living facility that focuses on a high quality of care for its residents. Anyone can rent out a room and designate themselves as providing “sober living”, “recovery residences”, “halfway house”, “transition housing”, etc. A recovering addict deserves much more than a roof over their head while they are continuing their recovery journey following treatment or detox.

People seeking a safe haven in recovery housing deserve house rules and regulations, safety and maintenance requirements, adequate and competent staff members, proper documentation, collaboration efforts between staff members and other members of the resident’s recovery team and family members, positive and supportive community relationships, recreational activities that promote team building, structured scheduling that supports involvement in the 12-step community and meeting attendance, and continued personal growth.

The founders of Red Hawk Recovery offer a solid solution in Atlanta sober living. Contact us today at 865- 441-1020 or 404-906-8646.

Heroin Epidemic in North Fulton County


A comprehensive study of the heroin problem in north Fulton county was undertaken during 2015, commissioned by the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office and conducted by Applied Research Services, Incorporated. The study consisted of an exhaustive search of relevant media and professional literature, collection of relevant data regarding the nature and extent of heroin use and its impacts, meetings and contacts with key stakeholders, and two dozen interviews with parents who have lost children to heroin overdoses, treatment providers, law enforcement officials, and community leaders.

Study findings document in stark detail the rapid rise of heroin use in north Fulton and surrounding northern tier counties over the past three to five years. The impacts of this rise are readily apparent in an alarming rise in overdose deaths due to heroin and fentanyl, a synthetic opioid often combined with heroin and having deadly consequences. The Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office recorded a total of four heroin deaths in 2010, as compared to 31 in 2013 and 77 in 2014. Trends suggest that heroin overdoses recorded in the Grady Hospital Emergency Department in 2015 will be almost double what they experienced in 2013. The impacts are undoubtedly felt most acutely by family members and friends who have lost loved ones to heroin overdoses. Law enforcement officials, treatment providers, and community leaders see first‐hand the impacts of heroin in their communities, with a number of law enforcement officials in north Fulton County now seeing heroin as their primary drug problem. The palpable sense of urgency expressed by those interviewed for this study as well as a host of community leaders in metropolitan Atlanta are indeed well founded.

Heroin/Opiate addiction is clearly becoming an epidemic in North Fulton. Recovery residences can assist in providing the solution needed between treatment/detox for heroin/opiate addicts wanting long-term sobriety. Red Hawk Recovery can help. Contact us today at 865-441-1020 or 404-906-8646.