Gainesville is part of the 29 Georgia counties where the opioid
addiction rates outpace the US average. In Gainesville, lethal opioid overdoses have
increased 148% with projections for even more losses of life in the coming
year. Rural areas like Gainesville are
regions where the national opioid crisis is reaching its peak. The crisis has
become so severe that the Northeast Georgia Medial Center has become the first
in Georgia to offer immediate recovery support to overdose cases that come
through the emergency room. By attacking
the problem at the point of non-lethal overdose, hospital officials hope to
lead individuals down a path of recovery before it’s too late.
Efforts by Gainesville
to Take Opioids out of Circulation
The Gainesville Police Department has teamed up with the
National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators to provide drop boxes in
the lobby of the Gainesville Justice Center. Here families can properly dispose
of leftover prescription mediations so they do not end up on the street. The
drop box has helped remove over twenty pounds of unused and expired
medications. Opioids prescribed for pain and no longer used in a household can
easily fall into the hands of teens at home.
The Georgia Legislature has also increased funding for
substance misuse prevention programs, which focus primarily on legal
prescription drugs that are abused. Beyond educating families and teens in
Georgia, the prescription drug monitoring program will increase the scrutiny
and records-keeping of drugs prescribed by doctors and hospitals. Addiction and abuse often starts with a legal
Opioids in the Gainesville
Area Part of a State Crisis
Already, deaths from opioids in Georgia has exceeded deaths
from motor vehicle crashes. This places Georgia in the top eleven states with
the highest number of opioid overdose deaths. Opioids gaining high usage in the
Gainesville area and the many of the same drugs leading to the most overdoses throughout
the state of Georgia and the US overall.
Considered deadlier than heroin, fentanyl, quickly builds
tolerance levels among users. With a
potency 50-100 times greater them morphine, Fentanyl has become an extremely
dangerous drug in Georgia. The suppression of breathing, the first indicator of
a Fentanyl overdose, can easily lead to death. Fentanyl overdoses are one of
the most common in Gainesville.
Often used in combination with alcohol and other opioids, hydrocodone
and oxycodone have become two of the most abused prescription drugs in the
country and two of the most heavily abused opioids in Gainesville. Initially prescribed as a pain reliever,
hydrocodone’s addictive nature quickly converts many users to low cost heroine
to maintain a similar high after their legal prescriptions can no longer be
Other Deadly Opioids
in Gainesville, Georgia
Opioid abuse may expand beyond an initial legally prescribed
drug to other drugs within the opioid family to obtain the necessary high.
Users may switch to more readily available prescription opioids on the street,
which can be taken in enormous doses to compensate for built-up tolerances.
The Hope of Naloxone
The Gainesville City Council has made considerable efforts
to curb overdose deaths using the anti-opioid drug Naloxone. Also known as Narcan, this powerful and
effective medication can reverse the potential fatality of an opioid overdose.
The availability of Naloxone offers hope to first responders and parents
present at the scene of an overdose. As overdoses now even occur in Gainesville
schools, educators are being supplied with the counteractive drug to save the
lives of kids. The Gainesville City Council has already approved the purchase
of Naloxone kits which will be provided to law enforcement who are often the
first to witness an opioid overdose in progress. The drug gives opioid addicts
a second chance toward recovery.
Rehab and Recovery
The task of combating drug addiction in the Gainesville area
involves both community awareness of the severity of the problem and dedicated facilities
to assist the addicted toward a path of recovery. The process of treatment
requires the dedication of the addicted to get well with both clinical and
psychological support to help prevent relapse.
When is Opioid Usage
The point from which opioid use becomes an addiction usually
occurs with the rise of numerous physical and behavioral indicators.
The physical warning signs indicate that pain treatment with
opioids may be reaching addiction levels:
periods of drowsiness
or slowed breathing
and sudden unconsciousness
• Regular constipation
Other social and behavioral indicators may be a clear sign
that opioid use is becoming an addiction:
Seeking out new physicians after your family doctor refuses
to prescribe more medication-also known as doctor shopping, is a common
practice to meet drug cravings, a telltale sign that opioid addiction is taking
Social withdrawal- has addiction takes hold, focus on family
and friends diminishes. A focus on a personal relationship with the drug
surpasses all over social and personal interactions.
Financial issues- an increasing use of opioids becomes financially
costly and indicates a serious opioid problem
Steps Toward Recovery
The recovery process begins with an assessment of the
severity of the addiction. Clinical screenings can determine the risk factors,
especially among those taking opioids for chronic pain. Because treatment of
severe pain may include a legal opioid prescription from a doctor, the
potential for addiction increases. Initial assessments look for the following criteria:
The severity of the addiction may be so
acute as to require immediate intervention which may lead a medical professional
to advance treatment as quickly as possible.
Patients may understand that they have a
problem, but may not see their addiction as a treatable disease. Recovery
centers help patients understand the recovery process, the risks of withdrawal
and most importantly seeing opioid addiction as a condition that can be
reversed with their commitment to recovery.
Determining if the patient is ready for change
The path to recovery is filled with obstacles.
The risk of relapse looms every day over someone battling addiction. Depression and social pressures push the
recovering in the opposite direction as they seek relief from personal
stresses. Gainesville recovery centers will evaluate if that patient is ready
for the road to recovery. In Gainesville, the treatment for opioid addiction
has doubled year over year, so the availability of treatment may depend on an
incoming patient’s authentic personal commitment to getting well. For those who
are ready, the long, hard journey includes positive and meaningful support.
The Detox Process
The absence of opioids in the blood causes the body to go
into a form of initial shock. Symptoms may include severe nausea and muscle
aches, difficulty sleeping, fever, sweating, extreme agitation and anxiety. These
symptoms may begin within 6-12 hours from abstaining from common opioids. Recovery
centers will monitor the process to ensure the detox is occurring safely and
that there are no medical emergencies. Gainesville
recovery centers are prepared for this severe initial withdrawal episode and do
their best to keep patients comfortable and to help them maintain the courage
to persist through the ordeal.
Within 72 hours and into the weeks that follow the early
detox, patients will continue to experience physical symptoms ranging from
stomach cramps to vomiting. During this time, the deeper psychological factors
caused by addiction may take hold. Drug cravings become more intense and deep depression
may lure patients toward relapse. This time frame becomes the most common for
recovering addicts to fall back into addiction and becomes a critical time for
recovery centers to provide concentrated care.
What Inpatient Care
Provides: The Long Road to Recovery
A combination of individual
and group counseling help patients through the long recovery process. Valuable
12-step programs are the cornerstone of addiction therapy and help individuals
heal psychologically and refocus their minds away from the powerful grip of
addiction to a positive outlook on life.
Under these controlled conditions, an individual seeking recovery can
break away from both the sources of addiction as well as any negative relationships
that maintain addictive behavior.
The Impact of Personal Transformation and
Residential Treatment Facilities
Inpatient residential treatment may extend from thirty to ninety
days, depending on the individual.
Long-term residential care primarily helps patients re-see the world
through non-addictive eyes. Residential
treatment centers create a protective ecosystem of caring that helps patient rebuild
a positive outlook. Through long-term
treatment, patients regain contacts with the community, family and friends that
were lost to addiction. The process reestablishes a patient’s presence in the
world without dependence.
PHP, or partial hospitalization programs, offer supportive
care without removing them from the routines of daily life. PHP options may act
as a follow up to residential treatment. PHP becomes the next step toward
learning to live in the world without opioids.
Having the option to stay at a supportive facility as needed
while also continuing their treatment outside of the facility is also helpful
for those in the Gainesville area struggling with a milder form of addiction
known as functioning addiction. Functioning addicts may find addiction is of
personal concern or may have caused personal issues, yet may have not become so
severe as to interfere with daily responsibilities such as work. This ability
to function daily, however does not diminish the seriousness of the addiction
and treatment is essential to prevent the dependency from causing the addiction
to increase in severity.
Treatments Build Coping Skills
Addiction treatment is more than achieving abstinence. Drug
addiction trains the mind to rely on substances such as opioids to live life.
All treatment programs need to focus on reversing that outlook.
Intensive outpatient programs, or IOPs, help patients
relearn how to function without addictive substances. Intensive outpatient sessions
are generally three hours a day, three days a week in group settings. Some of
the most important skills learned by recovering individuals in intensive
outpatient programs is how to identity the potential for relapse. Personal and
social pressures are often the causes that lead many into addiction from the
beginning. It is usually these very same issues that continue to drive the
impulse to usage long after treatment. The ability to cope with failed relationships,
difficulties at work, or simply everyday stresses that most people have learned
to manage are never learned by those addicted. It is through intensive
outpatient programs that patients learn to recognize their vulnerabilities so
they do not slip back into drug use.
The Power of Group
Therapy in Long Term Aftercare
The long healing process after addiction becomes primarily
psychological. After all, addiction embraces a life of loneliness. The value of
groups in the healing process is to shatter the solitary shell of addiction and
keep a healing individual engaged with others. Group settings often becomes
some of the strongest bonds formed and lead to long-term, valued relationships
A group session continues to help the recovering to identify
substance triggers. Is it family? Work? Certain stresses or memories will
continue drive the impulse to relapse.
Groups also help individuals reaffirm life. Addiction erodes
gratitude and causes selfishness to thrive. Nurturing a healing individual’s
connections to life, whether it be loved ones or positive activities that
existed before addiction. Reaffirming the positive becomes a way for recovering
individuals to focus on other healthy aspects of life other than drugs. Learning to love hobbies, work and
relationships again is part of the long-term healing process that group therapy
Knowing you are not alone. By far the most insignificant advantage
that group therapy brings to recovering individuals, is the idea that the
problem of addiction is not solely their own. Sharing experiences and seeing a
way free of addiction becomes a supportive team effort.
Finding Rehab Help in
the Gainesville, Georgia Area
Many recovery centers offer both impatient and outpatient
treatments for opioids as well as many other types of addiction. Look for help
and hope with substance abuse including: