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Treatment facilities in the Houston area offer an impressive set of resources to individuals struggling with substance abuse. With 22.7 million people in need of treatment nationally in 2013, just 2.5 million people received that treatment.1 Leaders in the Houston area treatment industry, and throughout Texas, want to increase that number and improve the quality of rehab units across the city and state.
With around 2.2 million people living in Houston, the city is more than just another busy tourist destination.2 Behind the scenes of everyday life, many residents are struggling to stay afloat while abusing drugs. Drug abuse rates run high in Texas, and the local trafficking operations are likely responsible for a large part of that. In 2013, 39,676 people entered treatment facilities in the state for the treatment of a drug or alcohol problem.3
Issues of alcohol abuse haven’t been any kinder to Texans. Among those who sought treatment in 2013, 11,081 cited alcohol as all or part of their problem.4 In 2012, 3.9 percent of females and 8.6 percent of males residing in Houston County admitted to heavy drinking practices.5 Another 7.5 percent of females and 21.8 percent of males in the region reported engaging in binge drinking.6 Nationwide, binge drinking rates are around 17 percent, with men being two times as likely to engage in the practice than women.7
Outside of alcoholism, many others still battle alcohol abuse. Not everyone who drinks heavily is dependent on alcohol. However, these individuals still account for a large number of adverse outcomes related to drinking, such as alcohol poisoning and automobile accidents. Around 17 percent of males and 8 percent of females will fit the criteria for a diagnosis of alcoholism at some point in their lives.8
Substance abuse and addiction can occur in every demographic, but there are often many factors that combine to create the perfect environment for dependency to thrive. For example, someone who grows up in a household where substance abuse is prevalent is far more likely to turn to the same lifestyle as an adolescent or adult than someone who grows up in a drug-free household. Parental substance addiction predisposes children to an eight times greater risk of developing a dependency on drugs or alcohol themselves.9
Death is a more likely consequence when you’re abusing drugs or alcohol. Texas lost 2,343 residents in 2007 to drug abuse.10An annual average of 6,514 people died every year between 2006 and 2010 in the state due to alcohol abuse.11 Often, these numbers are actually a great deal larger than what statistical data puts forth. Many deaths are caused by indirect factors associated with drugs and alcohol every year, but national and state level data frequently accounts only for those directly caused by the substances, such as overdose. Other deaths stem from both though, including but not limited to:
Even if individuals are lucky enough to avoid harming themselves or others while driving drunk, they might not escape police. It is estimated that individuals who drive drunk and get caught have already engaged in the practice around 80 times before their arrest.12 Driving under the influence is a serious charge that isn’t taken lightly in the state of Texas. Deaths stemming from drunken driving accidents reached 1,337 in 2013 for the state of Texas, which led the entire nation that year.13 Getting caught even one time comes with stiff fines and 3-180 days in jail, but repeated offense bring stiffer penalties – up to two years without a license following a much longer prison sentence.14
Arrest rates for drug-related activity are no better. In 2014, 139,471 people were arrested for a drug-related crime in the state.15Individuals who are caught with certain substances are looking at hefty prison sentences and steep fines, as well.
Trafficking is the biggest issue in the Houston region. The Mexican drug cartel has developed strong ties within the community over the last few decades. While drug busts and seizures are occurring almost daily in the region, the amount of drugs being smuggled into the area is impossible for law enforcement to keep up with.
Substance abuse doesn’t always strike at random. Sometimes there are factors at play that can significantly increase an individual’s predisposal to this lifestyle. Mental health disorders impact the daily lives of around 42.5 million nationwide.16 Around 3.68 percent of the population of Texas is living with a serious mental health disorder, like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.17
Approximately 29 percent of all people who have one or more mental health disorders also abuse drugs or alcohol.18 Substance abuse may be even more popular among individuals with certain illnesses. Anxiety disorders, which affect some 40 million Americans every year, are seemingly more likely to occur in cases of substance abuse, too.19 In addition, almost 50 percent of people who have depression are also affected by an anxiety disorder.20 Around 20 percent of US residents who suffer from either of these types of disorders also have problems with drug or alcohol abuse.21 Among all people hospitalized in the state of Texas during 2008, 4.8 percent were hospitalized for a mental health condition as a primary condition, and another 15.5 percent with a mental health condition as a secondary condition.22
In 2013, 41,149 people died across the nation as a result of suicide and four of those deaths occurred in Houston County.23],24 It is suspected that mental illness plays a strong role in the majority of all suicide cases. Those who manage to stay afloat, and battle the circumstances they have been given, may face other struggles, such as keeping a job or holding together interpersonal relationships.
Both of these issues are worth shedding some light on since they can significantly impact the treatment outcomes for individuals suffering from some co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders. Without employment, many sufferers don’t have the income or health insurance available to get the help they need.
In the Houston area, there are 24 substance abuse treatment centers in operation.27] They offer services ranging from medical detox and therapy to support groups and medicated treatment options.
When planning for treatment, it is important to consider what type of rehab will suit an individual’s lifestyle. The majority of the more than 22,000 treatment centers in America offer outpatient treatment services.28 This is merely because this form of treatment is the easiest to partake in while keeping the rest of the person’s life in order. Unlike residential treatment options, which only 2,862 national facilities offer nationwide, outpatient treatment allows clients to go home at the end of the day and return to their normal lives. They can still help out with the needs of their families, raise their children, and keep their jobs.
On that note, it is imperative to understand that federal law requires that employers give clients 12 weeks off from work to seek addiction treatment if they need it.29 During this time, employers cannot permanently fill the person’s position at work with a replacement. So, for those who do require residential care at one of Houston, or Texas area, facilities that offer it, there is little need to worry about losing their job.30
Still, outpatient services are often preferred. It is often less expensive to seek this type of care, too. This is important given that those 12 weeks off come without pay.
Getting treatment is a feat that any person can be proud of. Overcoming a life of drug or alcohol abuse and learning to manage the issues that lead people down that path can be quite empowering.
Houston is home to a large number of beneficial resources to help individuals struggling with substance abuse and addiction to get back on their feet, seek treatment, and live healthy and full lives in recovery. The Texas Department of State Health Services is a great starting point for those looking for local resources.
Officials all across Houston are cracking down on the illegal drug trade. In 2010 alone, according to the Executive Office of the President of the United States, officials in Houston seized more than 1.5 tons of cocaine, 400,000 doses of illegal prescription drugs, and 108 tons of marijuana. That seems like a lot of drugs, but as any user knows all too well, there are still plenty more substances on the streets.
That is why people with a drug abuse problem in Houston should not wait for law enforcement officials to stem the tide of drugs. Instead, people in Houston should take advantage of the excellent drug addiction treatment programs available in the area. And there are many to choose from. These are just a few top options open to people in need:
Local hospitals: Most hospitals in the Houston area provide supportive care for people who are struggling with a physical problem caused by drugs. Some also offer medical detox services. People in the midst of a medical crisis due to drugs should head immediately to the hospital for care. That is the best place to get lifesaving help.