Dallas, Texas is the ninth largest city in the United States with a population of about 1.25 million. It’s full of heritage and culture, but unfortunately it’s also home to a great deal of drug trafficking. At about 13.5 hours from the Mexican border, Dallas is among the first big stops for illegal drug smugglers. As a result, it’s also home to substance abuse problems with meth, heroin, cocaine, marijuana and more–and trickling down from the drug trafficking comes addiction, drug crimes, homicide, other felonies and prison. Treatment and recovery are always an option, but a lot of people don’t know where to go for help.
In the northwest corner of Texas, the second most populated state in the United States, lies Dallas–the third largest city in Texas, with approximately 1.25 million inhabitants. The city’s largest revenue is earned during the Texas State Fair, where Dallas earns a reported 350 million dollars annually, although the original Gross Domestic Product in Dallas was generated by oil and cotton. Perhaps a little lesser known fact is that Dallas is considered a destination for drug trafficking from Mexico.
As a result of the drug trafficking, drugs crimes, packed prisons, substance abuse and addiction are pretty common around Dallas. A lot of people in the United States don’t ever seek treatment for an addiction or drug problem, most don’t even realize it’s a problem until it’s too late.
Dallas Drug Crimes
Dallas has one of the highest crime rates in the United States. In fact, according to area demographics, the occurrence of violent crime in Dallas is 68 percent higher than the rest of Texas and 86 percent higher than the rest of the United States. In a poll by USA Today, Dallas did not make the list of “The most dangerous cities in America,” however it is considered a major transshipment center for illicit drugs in the United States. According to the National Drug Intelligence Center, “Mexican DTOs…use (operational) cells to facilitate the transportation and distribution of drug shipments, primarily marijuana, methamphetamine, and cocaine, from Dallas/Fort Worth to drug markets across the country.”
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Drugs are big business in Dallas, however, with them can come serious charges, fines and incarceration; not to mention addiction and death. Drug crimes can involve a variety of different drugs like marijuana, alcohol, cocaine, crack, heroin, prescription drugs, crystal meth, ecstasy, or PCP. The most common charges associated with these drugs are:
- Possession with intent to distribute
- Prescription Fraud
Dallas Law Enforcement
“The Police Department is dedicated to serving the people of Dallas and strives to reduce crime and provide a safe city” (Dallas Police Department). Unfortunately, the Dallas PD is dwindling down due to retirement, lagging recruitment, and low salaries compared to other cities. According to the Dallas News October 2016 the Dallas Police Department lost 99 officers to retirement or job relocation.
“The shrinking department is down to 3,252 officers, well below the desired 3,500. The force hopes to hire 449 officers this year to make up for attrition. Council wants police staffing to average three officers per 1,000 residents” (Dallas News). One of the biggest problems that will appear with a shrinking police department is their ability to protect the people from corruption and the potential for drug crimes. Unfortunately, the more drugs that are available in the city, the more people there will be who abuse them and potentially become hooked.
In 2016, there was an increase in homicides and violent crimes (aggravated assault, robberies, murders and sexual assaults). According to Interim Police Chief David Pughes, “the majority of the homicides we’re seeing is home invasions of drug houses.” (Dallas News). Pughes went on to say that “being down 400 officers, it’s spread through the entire department.”
Prison Sentences Instead Of Treatment Centers
The problem is that crimes are often the direct result of a drug addiction; instead of being treated like they are sick, people suffering from addiction are treated like criminals and might not get the treatment they need. This drug/crime calamity can be a very difficult situation for the government, law enforcement and prisons. With over 142,000 inmates, about 92 percent of which are men (Texas Tribune), Texas has the largest prison population in the United States and three of those prisons are in Dallas County.
There are an estimated 16,389 people in Texas prisons for Driving While Intoxicated (3rd offense) and they are serving anywhere from 5 to 20 year sentences or more. Marijuana, heroin and cocaine are also a major cause for concern in Dallas penitentiaries, because people commit crimes that, in the end, are a direct result of drugs. “Abusers of crack cocaine and ice methamphetamine frequently commit assaults and shootings to protect their drug operations; they also commit home invasions and robberies to support their drug addictions” (NDIC).
When someone has multiple charges against them for drug related crimes, they aren’t just in the wrong place at the wrong time. They are most likely suffering from a substance addiction. Sometimes bigger steps need to be taken in order to make sure that a person doesn’t become a repeat offender. Drug court probation is one tool that can help people with addictions to become upstanding citizens, and stay out of prison. Maybe people who struggle with addictions should not be treated like they lack moral fiber, but instead be uplifted and helped out of the slump they’re in.
Forward Thinking And Addiction Treatment In Texas
Governor Rick Perry has made a major impact on drug trafficking, substance addiction and treatment in Texas. In 2011, Governor Perry said, “We should continue our investment in border security because the threat of cross-border violence has only grown, as the drug wars escalate. I don’t raise the issue of border security as a criticism of our neighbors to the south, but to show our resolve and unity in the struggle, as they deal with a wave of violence unlike anything outside of the world’s war zones” (On The Issues).
What Is Drug Addiction?
With drug shipments growing larger, the number of people suffering from addictions is also on the rise in Dallas. Unfortunately, instead of being treated for diseases, they are sanctioned for crimes. It is important to remember that substance use disorders and alcoholism are mental disorders and diseases. Even though a person will do tragic things, and sometimes even put others in danger in order to fuel an addiction, they are sick and need help.
Oftentimes, a person suffering from an addiction started using drugs or alcohol to cope with a mental disorder or to deal with loss. Over a prolonged period of use, they begin to crave their drug of choice as you might crave food or water–their brain tells them that they need it for survival. If a person you love is suffering from a drug or alcohol addiction, don’t give up on them, you might be the only person they have right now.
Addiction Is A Disease
In previous years, Governor Perry argued that the legalization of Marijuana for medicinal purposes was okay for California, but not for Texas. Governor Perry also made significant changes in 2001 when he signed the Western Governors’ Association resolution, which called for the cooperation and coordination of efforts between the law enforcement and medical communities on the issue of substance abuse. In summary, Perry supported treatment of drug addiction as a disease rather than just criminal activity.
Addiction Treatment Methods
Addictions are as unique as the city they happen in. Treatments are unique as well and even if one type of treatment worked for one person, it might not work for another. The same goes for a person’s drug of choice; a person might not be able to stop drinking on their own, while another person might be suffering from a serious heroin problem.
Each person’s addiction is different, and therefore, the method of treatment is likely to be different as well. Although most treatment programs will start with a professionally monitored detoxification, some of the other addiction treatment methods are:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Dialectical behavioral therapy
- Individual and Group Therapy
- Medication-Assisted Therapies
- Inpatient and Outpatient Treatment
- Long-Term and Short-Term Residential Treatment
- Mens and Women’s Programs
- Motivational Interviewing
- Contingency Management Therapy
- Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment
- Mindfulness and Stress Management Practices
- Family Therapy and Support
- Relapse Prevention and Aftercare Support
What Is Medication-Assisted Therapy?
Medication-assisted therapy is a helpful stage of detoxification during the acute stages of an addiction. By definition, “Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is the use of medications with counseling and behavioral therapies to treat substance use disorders and prevent opioid overdose” (SAMHSA).
Opioid Addiction Medication
The medicines used for opioid addiction are methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone. Methadone and buprenorphine stop withdrawals and can help to relieve an urge to use opioids. Naltrexone helps to block off the effects of opioids and is meant to be used after a person finishes detoxing.
- Dolophine – Methadone
- Methadose – Methadose
- Suboxone – Buprenorphine
- Subutex – Buprenorphine
- Probuphine – Buprenorphine
- Vivitrol – Naltrexone
Alcohol Abuse Medication
The medicines that can be used for treating alcohol use disorders and alcoholism are Naltrexone, Acamprosate, Disulfiram and Topiramate.
- Vivitrol – Naltrexone – blocks the receptors in the brain involved with the rewarding effects of alcohol.
- Campral – Acamprosate – can reduce some of the withdrawal symptoms from alcohol.
- Antabuse – Disulfiram – “interferes with the breakdown of alcohol.”
Other medication may be necessary to help treat patients, depending on whether or not there is a co-occurring disorder or condition.
It is important to remember that medication-assisted treatments are helpful to aid in the physical craving, withdrawal and detoxification phase of recovery, but they are not recommended as a universal remedy for addiction. Typically, medications need to paired with other methods of treatment in order to be fully effective.
What Is Individual And Group Therapy?
Individual therapy is highly effective in helping therapists get to the bottom of a person’s addiction and gaining a better understanding of where a person comes from. Sometimes it can be more difficult for a person to open-up to therapists if they do not trust them, and therefore individual therapies can also be paired with group therapies. Group therapies also give a person suffering from addiction the feeling that they aren’t alone–and also give them a feeling of recovery community.
What Is The Difference Between Inpatient And Outpatient Treatment?
Inpatient treatment is a recovery route that someone in the acute stages of addiction will take to achieve sobriety. This treatment method is often followed by some form of outpatient treatment. Short-term residential treatment is anything less than 28 days, whereas long-term treatment is typically 90 to 120 days or more. Because addiction is considered a mental condition or disease, recovery isn’t necessarily something that a person just experiences once and then it’s over.
A substance addiction is often considered to be in a dormant stage throughout the recovery process; therefore, relapse prevention and aftercare support are included with residential treatments to ensure that a person doesn’t slip up after treatment.
What Is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy?
Originally used to treat borderline personality disorder, dialectical behavioral therapy gives a person the tools to manage emotions in a healthy way and remain calm instead of overreacting in certain stressful situations. Many times, dialectical behavioral therapy is used in group therapy to give people better interpersonal skills, but it can also be used in individual therapy, telephone consultations, and therapy team. This treatment method is frequently used to treat co-occurring disorders which can occur with substance use disorders.
What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy And Motivational Interviewing?
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is typically a short-term therapy method whose primary aim is to change a person’s negative thinking or behavior. Sometimes a person with an addiction can have a low self-esteem along with it; cognitive behavioral therapy can help a person feel better about himself, along with teach them why they had negative feelings in the first place. Cognitive behavioral therapy can be used in either group or individual therapy.
Like CBT, motivational interviewing is goal-oriented and client-centered, which can help a patient to replace negative feelings with positive ones. Through a client-centered approach, a person can have a better outlook on recovery.
How Long Does Addiction Treatment Last?
Addiction treatment can last as long, or as short as needed. As far as length of treatment, there are short-term options, long-term options, or even longer (such as a year or longer). The length of treatments are based on the individual’s needs. Some questions that need to be asked before choosing treatment are:
- How long have you been using drugs?
- How much of a substance are you using?
- How many substances are you struggling with?
- What is your substance of choice?
- Are there any co-occurring disorders with your substance abuse?
Mindfulness And Stress Management Practices
Calming and soothing practices are sometimes used in addiction treatment. Some of these adopted in mindfulness and stress management are:
- Martial Arts
Relapse Prevention And Aftercare Support
In a perfect world, a person would be completely cured of addiction with a simple wish; however, recovery isn’t usually that easy. Recovery continues long after treatment and though relapse is always a possibility, there are ways around it. In a world of difficult choices and temptations, relapse prevention gives a person the tools long-term sobriety after treatment. Aftercare support is also important for long-term treatment, because it keeps a person in the recovery loop–they aren’t just released and never heard from again. People are encouraged to keep in touch with treatment professionals and other people from treatment.
Treating Addiction In Dallas
Dallas is a large city with major drug abuse and crime. With drug abuse comes addiction, but that doesn’t have to be the last stop. With our combined efforts, treating addiction in Dallas can lower the crime rate and make it a safer place to live. Dallas can a beautiful city to call home and grow both mentally and spiritually, but it’s hard to see the good when so many people are suffering from the consequences of drugs and alcohol. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that a person suffering from addiction is sick. Without proper treatment and intervention, a person might not be able to see that there is a problem and continue to live with a drug or alcohol induced obsession.
Whether a person approaches recovery with a family therapy approach, a 12-Step approach, or an adventure therapy approach–any addiction treatment is better than no treatment at all.
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At Vertava Health Texas, we’re here to help you find the road to recovery and start your journey towards a healthy, balanced and sober life. Contact Us today to speak to our compassionate and loving staff. Together, we can free ourselves from addiction.