Nobody ever intends to become addicted to alcohol or drugs. Despite knowing the addictive potential, most people assume that addicts were somehow weaker or more prone to becoming addicted. This exception-to-the-rule mentality makes substance abusers overconfident, and since they’re not worried about addiction, their substance abuse escalates. Having enjoyed the intoxication they experienced the first time, they want to continue experiencing that feeling, but they find that it takes more and more alcohol or drugs in order to achieve the desired effects. Without even realizing it, these individuals have initiated their descent into addiction.
Unfortunately, addiction has ravaged the entire U.S. with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention dubbing the recent spike as an addiction epidemic. In some states, addiction rates are even worse than most others. The state of Florida—widely known for being the location of an exceptionally high number of high-quality alcohol and drug rehabs—is one of the states that has been greatly affected by the addiction epidemic. As such, the following are some of the most common drug addictions in Florida.
Although The New York Times notably referred to Florida as an “oasis of sobriety”, the state also has an exceptionally bad problem concerning the number of people who suffer from addiction. In the past decades, opioids have been the class of drugs to pose the biggest problem in the temperate state, but like the rest of the country today, Florida is presently experiencing a major heroin addiction problem. Considered the most addictive substance that a person could possibly become addicted to, heroin is derived from the opium poppy and is an extremely powerful, semi-synthetic painkiller.
When a person uses heroin, the substance enters the bloodstream, travels to the brain, and binds to the brain’s opiate receptors where it prevents the individual from feeling. Overall, heroin dulls the senses. Meanwhile, the drug causes a surge in certain neurotransmitters, particularly ones like serotonin and dopamine that are typically associated with the brain’s reward and pleasure pathways. As the person continues to use heroin over a period of time, the brain begins producing less of its own neurotransmitters and begins to rely on the heroin; however, when the individual is deprived of heroin, the brain’s neurochemical level remains abnormally low, causing feelings of depression, anxiety, and a general physiological discomfort.
In Florida, heroin addiction rates have continued to climb over the past several years, which is typically verified by assessing the number of annual heroin overdose deaths. Between 2011 and 2012, heroin overdose deaths increased an average of 89 percent throughout the state, climbing from 62 to 117; however, certain counties show an annual increase of 120 percent or more. Officials believe that Florida being one of the southernmost states in the U.S. makes it especially easy to get heroin into the state from Mexico. Moreover, statistics show that one of the demographic groups that have been affected by heroin the most are young adults aged 18 to 29, and with the drug being so powerful and highly addictive, it can begin derailing a person’s life after only a few days.
Prescription Pain Medication
The reason for today’s heroin problem has been attributed to the prescription painkiller addiction of the previous decade. After OxyContin, or oxycodone, was released in the latter half of the 1990s, doctors and physicians began prescribing the opiate liberally due to its effectiveness for treating pain. Moreover, Purdue Pharma—the pharmaceutical company that produced and distributed OxyContin—was pushing hard for health care providers to prescribe more and more OxyContin. By the early 2000s, there were a number of other opiate painkillers in addition to OxyContin on the market, and there were many people who had become addicted to painkillers and were buying them off the street.
The state of Florida had a crucial part in the nationwide painkiller epidemic since it was known for having many pain management clinics that liberally prescribed opiates and yet Florida lacked a statewide prescription management system that could monitor the controlled substances the state was prescribing. Painkiller addicts from all over the country were traveling to Florida to see several doctors over a period of a couple of days before returning home with their duplicate opiate prescriptions that they could abuse and sell on the streets.
Although there have been a number of policy changes and legislation that substantially decreased the number of painkillers that were being diverted, it was due to the many painkiller addicts suddenly being unable to get their substances of choice that they all began turning to heroin, triggering the current heroin epidemic. Despite the fact rates of painkiller addiction are lower now than ever, Florida remains the 11th state in terms of the severity of painkiller abuse; moreover, the majority of drug-related deaths that occur in Florida are still caused by benzodiazepines and oxycodone.
Although marijuana is often considered one of the most common and widespread drugs, current statistics show that there aren’t quite as many people regularly smoking marijuana as there used to be. Part of the reason for this is thought to be because marijuana is becoming much more mainstream with a number of states that have legalized medical marijuana and states like Colorado even legalizing recreational marijuana.
In fact, there have even been recent initiatives to legalize medical marijuana in Florida although the most recent attempt in 2015 fell short of getting the 60 percent majority of voters by only 3 percent. Medical marijuana will be added to the ballots for the 2016 presidential election. There are currently 23 states and Washington, D.C., that have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes; if Florida voters approve medical marijuana, Florida will be the most populated southern state to do so.
Why Continue to Suffer? Call the Palm Beach Institute Today
Addiction is a disease that can strip a person of his or her health, relationships, career, financial security, home, and even his or her life. However, nobody should have to continue suffering from an addiction. If you or someone you love would benefit from a free consultation, call the Palm Beach Institute at 855-534-3574 or contact us online. With just one phone call, you or your loved one can take the first step toward a life of lasting happiness, health, and fulfillment.
What to Do After Finding Your Teen’s Drug Stash?
Adolescence is a period of rapid physiological change. From puberty onward, teens are learning to become adults while their brains and bodies continue to mature in preparation for the time when they’ll come of age and take responsibility for their own lives. When substance abuse is introduced during this delicate period, the damage can be catastrophic.
Among the many problems that teenage addiction can cause, perhaps the most important are the effects that substance abuse can have on the brain and body that are not yet fully developed. When drugs are introduced into the body, the production and levels of essential neurotransmitters and hormones are thrown off balance, causing the body to compensate accordingly.
The body is still balancing the natural levels of many of these hormones and chemicals, which means drug use would compound an already complicated issue. What’s more, it’s during the period of adolescence that individuals learn the life skills that are essential for survival. If a teenager doesn’t or is unable to learn the important skills adults need to survive, survival will be dubious at best.
Finding Drugs in Your House: Maintaining the Family Unit
Many parents fear the possibility of their children inadvertently developing an addiction to alcohol and drugs at an age when the devastation caused by developing a chemical dependence is compounded. And despite the fact that there are many parents across the country—and even the world—whose fears are realized when they discover some sign that their teenage child is using drugs, this scenario does not mean the battle against the disease of addiction has been lost. On the contrary, parents who discover evidence that a teenager is using drugs should be thankful that their child’s substance abuse did not continue in secret, growing more and more severe in the absence of treatment and support. While it’s a discovery that won’t be memorable in a pleasant sort of way, it’s the moment in which parents learn that a substance abuse problem exists and take action so that the teenage child can be directed toward recovery.
With the rates of substance abuse being so incredibly high both nationally and globally, it’s the worst nightmare of most parents that an adolescent or teenage child will show behavior that indicates substance abuse and physical dependency. This may mean that parents pay more and more attention to their teens’ behavior as they continue to age, looking for signs that would alert them to the presence of a problem so that the budding addiction can be swiftly dealt with before it becomes a lifelong issue.
When parents see some sign that makes them suspicious of substance abuse, the next step will often entail searching the teen’s bedroom and belongings for drugs, paraphernalia, and other physical evidence of substance abuse or dependency. If you find drugs in your house, either inadvertently or while snooping, you may wonder what the best course of action to take might be. If you have recently found drugs in your teen’s possession, here’s what you should do.
Be an Educated Enforcer
Before the moment of find drugs in your house, it’s crucial that you’ve educated yourself on the basics of substance abuse. It seems that most parents are either excessively paranoid about the possibility that their teen will abuse mind-altering substances while others assume it couldn’t happen to their children and don’t worry about it at all. Instead, take a stance that’s somewhere in the middle: Acknowledge that it’s possible, even if only remotely, and learn what to look for so that your innocent teen doesn’t get blamed for something he or she isn’t doing because you’re not quite sure what you should be looking for.
Use the internet as a resource and research teenage addiction and substance abuse. Learn about the common behaviors exhibited by teens when they’re experimenting or addicted to alcohol and drugs. Knowing more about this will mean you’ll be better prepared for the possibility of it happening and equipped with the knowledge of how the situation should best be handled.
Recruit Other Parents
As a parent, you might expect the first step to entail immediately confronting the teenage drug user, but the parent who discovers that their teenager has been using alcohol or drugs has homework to do first. Namely, the parents should get in contact with the parents of the teenager’s peer group, which is likely to consist of friends with whom the teenager has been experimenting with substance abuse. In fact, one or more of those peers has likely been providing the substance to the others or providing access to the substance.
It’s important to make sure that the other parents are aware of what’s going on because if the entire group of teens is partaking in substance abuse, then the entire group needs to be addressed. Even if you tell your teen to stop associating with a certain group of people, if they attend the same school it’s virtually impossible to ensure that the teen obliges. If all the other parents are aware of the situation, the parents can form a sort of coalition, agreeing on rules such as curfews, supervision, and so on. In short, the parents can collectively prevent situations in which the teens were abusing alcohol and drugs.
If your teenager goes to the same school as his group of friends that are abusing substances, you will need to be creative and resourceful to help ensure that he or she does not fall back into the substance abuse trap. If all the other parents are aware of the situation, the parents can form a sort of coalition, agreeing on rules such as curfews, supervision, and so on. In short, the parents can collectively prevent situations in which the teens were abusing alcohol and drugs.
Think Before You Act
If you find an alcohol or drug stash in your teen’s bedroom, try to refrain from letting your emotions get the best of you. Immediately confronting the teen with your anger, outrage, and tears is one of the worst things you could do. This kind of discovery is going to make you volatile, even unpredictable, and would likely cause you to say things before you’ve really thought about them.
For example, you don’t want to immediately throw your teen out of the house and then realize later that night that you’ve made a momentous, colossal mistake. Take some time, even a day or two, to collect yourself and strategize about how you want to handle the situation. You’re upset about this situation because you love your teen and you’re scared of this situation and what it could lead to, so find the best way to convey those thoughts and feelings to your teen.
Prepare Yourself for the Discussion
It’s probably hard not to think of this as a confrontation, but try not to. When you approach your teen with your discovery, it’s to have a discussion, not a confrontation. By being understanding and empathetic, your teen will be more likely to participate in the conversation and make it an exchange rather than it being you berating him or her. This is essential if you hope to learn the circumstances that led to his or her substance abuse so that you can set rules that will prevent those circumstances from encouraging substance abuse going forward.
Additionally, it’s equally important that you prepare for the discussion by doing some research. Look up statistics about the drug or substance you now know your teen has been using, such as addiction rates, health risks, side effects, and so on. Inform your teen what it is that he or she is risking or possibly sacrificing by continuing to experiment with and abuse alcohol and drugs. If you feel the problem is severe, you might even consult your child’s pediatrician or doctor about outpatient treatment or a program specifically for adolescents and teens.
Outline the Rules
Once your teen is aware that you’ve done your research and know what you’re talking about, make sure that he or she is also aware that this type of behavior cannot and will not be tolerated moving forward. Discuss your rules, then explain to your child why you’re setting these rules and why they’re important. Explain that it’s not your desire to make your child’s life difficult or unpleasant, but rather to guide them toward adulthood while ensuring their safety and health. Rules might not be fun, but they’re set with love. Just as important as the rules are the consequences for breaking them, which should also be clearly outlined to your teen. After the rules and consequences have been discussed, it’s the duty of the parents to enforce the rules. Otherwise, this will all have been for nothing.
Treat the Contributors
Oftentimes teens will engage in substance abuse for one or more of many reasons, such as to fit in with peers, boredom, self-medicating due to anxiety or depression, and so on. As a parent, be aware that when a teenager engages in substance abuse, there is almost always a cause or contributor that led the teen to engage in that behavior. If the teen was simply bored and had too much free time, find constructive, productive ways for the teen to spend their time that offers fulfillment and keeps him or her out of trouble.
If the issue is that the teen chose to treat anxiety, depression, or some other mental or emotional condition with intoxication, the best action to take would be to find the teen a therapist or counselor, especially one that specializes in teenage substance abuse and addiction. If the issue was the teen’s peer group, therapy or counseling would also be effective in addition to encouraging the teenager to participate or engage with the family in activities that fortify the familial bond and, particularly, strengthen the teen’s relationship with his or her parents.
Encourage Openness and Show Support
Finally, make sure that you encourage your teen to maintain open communication with you as his or her parent. Tell them that addiction is not an easy disease from which to recover with difficulties expected over the course of the process. Encourage your teen to come to talk to you and confide in you, express his or her thoughts and feelings and fears. Be supportive of your teen throughout the entire process. If necessary, encourage and allow him or her to participate in twelve-step programs and support groups, especially those intended specifically for adolescents and teens, as these have proven to be a great resource for those with the desire to abstain from substance abuse.
If you or someone you love is addicted to alcohol or drugs, the Palm Beach Institute can help. Our knowledgeable specialists have helped numerous addicts begin the journey of recovery by matching them with the programs that meet their individual needs and we can help you, too. Call us today at (877) 663-0170.