North Carolina is home to sweeping mountain views, vast scenic forests, and postcard-like communities. However, hidden in the natural beauty of this state lies a prevailing problem with harmful substances. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found that over 20 million Americans are living with an active substance use disorder (SUD). Of those, only a small percentage get the individualized treatment they need to maintain long-term recovery.
In the state of North Carolina alone, almost nine percent of the population has an alcohol or drug addiction, according to a report conducted by National Treatment Accountability for Safer Communities (TASC). With one of the highest rates of addiction in the country, the state has taken steps to reduce the epidemic through various means.
One solution includes the establishment of more premier and evidence-based drug rehab centers in NC, as well as creating attainable services to assist individuals with the recovery process. Learn more about the facts surrounding this state’s drug epidemic, as well as steps you can take toward finding the right North Carolina drug and alcohol treatment for your needs.
Substance abuse has been on a steady rise in the state of North Carolina over the past decade, with opioids topping the list of most-abused substance. In fact, North Carolina is home to four of the top 25 cities in the U.S where opioids are abused. NC Health News identified them as Wilmington, Hickory, Jacksonville, and Fayetteville. While the exact cause is unknown, certain factors are believed to be contributing to the problem.
Ease of access, unpredictable job outlook, and economic issues are all believed to increase the likelihood of substance abuse. This makes the topic of substance abuse more common in North Carolina and increases the likelihood that the state will experience high rates of addiction, crime, and preventable fatalities such as accidents.
A report conducted by Castlight found that individuals who abuse opioids specifically cost their employers twice as much annually in medical expenses than those who do not. This amounts to a loss of about eight billion dollars each year. In addition to this, low-income households and individuals living with a mental illness are more likely to struggle with opioid addiction.
Opioid abuse is at epidemic proportions in North Carolina, but the state is actively fighting against it and other commonly abused substances such as alcohol, cocaine, and marijuana with drug rehab centers in NC.
Known for prescribing opioids more frequently than the U.S national average, North Carolina is now making access to prescription forms of the drug less attainable and is monitoring patients more carefully.
Alcohol addiction is the second most prevalent substance abused in North Carolina. AA found that more than 450,000 residents of the state struggle with alcoholism. However, it is important to keep in mind that alcoholism and alcohol abuse are not the same. Alcoholism refers to a physical and emotional dependence on alcoholic substances and chronic use of them.
Alcohol abuse, on the other hand, is marked by periods of abstinence. However, people who abuse alcohol are more likely to develop an addiction and engage in unsafe or risky behaviors.
Lastly, cocaine abuse is the third most commonly abused substance and has increased significantly over the past decade. Treatment centers in North Carolina reported a 20-percent increase in patients struggling with cocaine addiction, according to the National Drug Intelligence Center. Cocaine, specifically crack cocaine, is a popular club drug, which increases its accessibility, especially among young adults.
Addiction Prevention Efforts
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) is the primary provider of addiction prevention services in the state. It provides educational materials and access to preventative healthcare, and it has increased community support to tackle the growing problem.
The NCDHHS’s Action Plan includes the following goals:
- Reduce the oversupply of addictive medications
- Reduce the flow of illicit drugs
- Increase awareness and education on a community level
- Increase access to naloxone
- Expand recovery and treatment methods throughout the state
- Monitor results and make changes as necessary
NCDHHS found an increase of over 400 percent in drug-related poisonings in the state. In addition to this, over 60 percent of accidental and unintentional deaths were related to heroin, cocaine, and synthetic narcotic drugs. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist that can reverse opioid overdose.
By making it readily available in healthcare centers, the state is effectively preventing accidental deaths.
The North Carolina Drug Education School Program was implemented as part of the statewide plan to reduce drug use. This beneficial program makes it possible for drug convictions to be eliminated or expunged through participation in classes.
The program is designed to educate participants about the nature of addiction, help them identify patterns of behavior that have contributed to their addiction, and, ultimately, assist with recovery. Counselors work with participants to create a plan to treat their addiction and prevent relapse in the future. One such component is to complete treatment.
There are many misconceptions surrounding alcohol and drug treatment. Some people may assume that treatment is a costly luxury and view it as unattainable as a result. Others think they need to travel out of state to receive premier care. Fortunately, the outlook for recovery in North Carolina has dramatically improved. As part of state-wide initiatives, affordable and evidence-based treatment centers have rapidly grown. This makes it easier than ever for individuals from all walks of life to get the care they need to work towards wellness. Different types of treatment are available, depending on specific needs.
The most effective approach consists of the following three components:
Detoxification, also known as detox for short, is the first step in the process used to prepare individuals for treatment by flushing harmful toxins out of the body in a supervised and controlled manner. Detox can help individuals overcome withdrawal symptoms and break their physical dependence or cravings for substances. However, it is not designed to replace treatment since it does not tackle the various underlying behavioral, emotional, and mental factors that contribute to addiction.
Inpatient & Outpatient Treatment
The treatment phase consists of rehabilitation, which is available in various formats. Inpatient, outpatient, and hybrid approaches are all available to make individualized care within reach for all. Finally, aftercare services play an integral role in the recovery process by helping individuals prevent relapse and transition back into their daily routine successfully.
Of all the treatment routes, inpatient rehabilitation—also known as residential treatment—is the most commonly used option because it is associated with higher success rates. A typical inpatient program lasts up to 90 days and requires individuals to live on-site in a facility. During this time, clients have easy access to staff and on-site amenities. Inpatient treatment provides different forms of therapy as well as medical and psychiatric services, making it especially useful in the treatment of co-occurring disorders.
Inpatient treatment is ideal for individuals struggling with persistent, long-term, or multiple addictions who lack reliable support at home and within the community. It can also benefit those with an unstable or stressful home environment. Outpatient care, on the other hand, may benefit individuals with a strong support system in place and a peaceful home setting, and those who are highly self-motivated to recover.
Outpatient (OP) & Intensive Outpatient (IOP) Treatment
Outpatient rehabilitation is the second most common option available. It does not require clients to relocate, making it an appealing choice for working adults. Instead, clients simply attend treatment according to a weekly schedule. As a result, clients do not have constant supervision. This factor can affect the risk for relapse among participants.
Rehabilitation relies on various therapies to better serve clients. The most effective options include the following:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT helps clients become more self-aware of destructive behaviors and thoughts that contribute to addiction and works with them to develop healthier alternatives.
- Group Therapy: Group-based therapy is led by a skilled counselor, and participants may work on activities such as role-playing and worksheets. This format provides a social approach to treatment and often incorporates cognitive and behavioral strategies.
- Individual Counseling: In this type of one-on-one talk therapy, clients work directly with a counselor in a private setting to overcome challenges, explore their feelings, and develop coping strategies.
Alternative treatments may also be available. Options such as biofeedback, mindfulness and relaxation training, and art and music therapy are growing increasingly popular in the treatment of addiction.
Relapse Prevention & Aftercare
Relapse is a common part of the recovery process. According to data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH), relapse rates are as high as 60 percent. However, these figures should not be discouraging for those seeking treatment. Since addiction is a persistent chronic disease, relapse should be viewed as a learning process. Through various means, relapse can be prevented and overcome, should it happen.
The therapies used to treat addiction incorporate many different relapse prevention strategies. Counselors work with clients to develop coping skills that they find most useful. These skills serve as tools for dealing with stressful situations, triggers, and cravings in the future in a healthy way.
In addition to this, North Carolina treatment centers encourage clients to explore new interests and hobbies. They also advocate for participation in community-based organizations, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), and SMART Recovery, just to name a few.
Programs such as these provide necessary support that is free of cost and accessible to all people in any stage of recovery. They can be used on a long-term basis as well and may play an integral role in aftercare.
Overcoming addiction is a lifelong process that gets easier each day. When equipped with the right support services and an individualized treatment plan, you can confidently work toward a healthier and well-balanced lifestyle. Choosing to get help now may be the best decision you make for your wellbeing. Don’t hesitate to take action—get started by discovering the right treatment solution for your needs today!