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Although the numbers and statistics regarding addiction seem to be lower in Texas than other parts of the country, residents are still struggling with dependency in the form of alcohol, heroin, marijuana, and opioids. There are several factors contributing to drug addiction in Texas as well as strategies the state is pursuing an effort to lower the current level of addiction.
Alcohol Abuse and Addiction
Alcohol ranks as the primary substance abused in Texas. The number of people struggling with alcohol addiction extends from adults to young students. Although younger users might not have a full-blown addiction, many have at least tried alcohol and participated in binge drinking, which is the consumption of five or more alcoholic drinks at a time. This is dangerous because of the likelihood of it turning into an addiction later in life.
In 2012, 58 percent of secondary school students had tried alcohol and 12 percent reported that they engaged in heavy drinking. When compared to Texas high school students, 73 percent of students had drunk alcohol and 24 percent drank five or more drinks at one time. This is a smaller amount compared to a study in 2001, where 81 percent of Texas high school students reported trying alcohol and 31 percent participated in binge drinking. Nonetheless, the number of students engaging in alcoholic activity is still high.
In a 2011-2012 NSDUH survey, about 48 percent of Texas residents who were 12 or older had consumed alcohol, which was only slightly less than the national average of almost 52 percent. In 2015, over 20,000 people enrolled into a treatment program, making up 27 percent of clients that sought out treatment for an addiction.
According to a 2012 study, 26 percent of Texas secondary students tried marijuana and 11 percent had used it within the last month. From this percentage, 63 percent of them smoked blunts while 58 percent used joints half of the time. Compared to 8 percent of people being admitted into treatment in 1995, the number rose to 23 percent in 2013 going into treatment for addiction. Out of that percentage, 19 percent of clients also needed treatment for alcohol abuse.
Almost three-quarters of the people who needed treatment were males. Out of this amount, 78 percent were involved with the criminal justice system and only 15 percent had a full-time job.
Opioids such as heroin, codeine, hydrocodone, and oxycodone can have devastating effects when users become addicted. Heroin, which is cheap and can be cut with even more deadly drugs, is a prevalent issue. Heroin is a growing problem in Texas, especially among the younger population. The most popular types of heroin used are Mexican black tar and powdered brown, which is a mixture of powdered black tar and other drugs.
Mexican black tar and powdered brown heroin are commonly found on the streets in Texas. This may be one of the reasons that is contributing to a rise in admissions for heroin abuse. The numbers rose from 40 percent in 2005 to 52 percent in 2013. Of the clients admitted for heroin abuse, 16 percent also abused cocaine.
Reasons For Concern About Heroin Abuse
There is a rising concern for those admitted for treatment for heroin abuse. The amount of younger clients has risen in recent years while the number of older clients continues to stay low. However, the clients who are being admitted in their twenties likely started as teenagers because of a lag between the first time they used to become dependent. This means the age at which people are starting to use heroin is becoming younger.
The price of heroin has lowered in recent years, which may enable those who are addicted to purchasing more of the drug. It is also available in many parts of Texas. Mexican black tar is the most commonly found version in Dallas. In El Paso, heroin has become more available in the last year, and Houston has a moderate availability compared to other cities.
Opioid Abuse and Addiction
Opioids commonly prescribed for moderate to severe pain relief include codeine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, methadone, morphine, opium, meperidine, tramadol, buprenorphine, and hydromorphone. People abused codeine by creating a “Houston cocktail,” which was a combination of hydrocodone, carisoprodol, and alprazolam. There was also codeine cough syrup that became popular through rap songs and was abused to get high.
In the 2012 survey for secondary school students in Texas, 8 percent had used hydrocodone, 11 percent had tried codeine cough syrup to get high, and 4 percent tried to get high with oxycodone.
Why Texas Has A Lower Percentage of Opioid Addiction
In Texas, there is seemingly a smaller amount of opioids being prescribed for a few reasons. For one, the warmer climate reduces the likelihood of people having painful conditions such as arthritis. Texas also has the highest rate of uninsured people; it’s difficult to get Medicaid unless an individual makes less than $5,000 annually or has other health issues. However, for those who are struggling with addiction, they will continue to find a way to come up with the money in addition to stealing from friends, family, or coworkers.
Additionally, the number of people being hospitalized for substance abuse appears lower, but this number is actually misleading. The more likely reason for this is because there are not enough facilities in the state to accommodate patients. Because of this, many clients go through treatment in an outpatient or other non-hospital settings.
How Texas Intervention Is Addressing The Opioid Addiction
It may look like Texas is not struggling as much as other states when it comes to the opioid crisis, but there are still many daily issues the state is facing. To deal with these issues, there are projects such as Operation Naloxone. Operation Naloxone is meant to train prescribers, pharmacists, and social workers in the case of overdose. Naloxone can temporarily reverse overdoses and help an individual regain consciousness for a short amount of time.
Texas is also training prescribers to learn the Texas Prescription Monitoring Program (TPMP) to look at patients’ medical history. This is an important step towards making more informed decisions about what types of medications to prescribe to patients. Over time, Texans have also passed laws that make it difficult to get pain medications such as Vicodin without leaving a paper trail. This has made it easier for law enforcement to discover people who are abusing these substances.
Thankfully, Family First Interventions has helped clients through addiction interventions in Texas. They have assisted those who may have struggled with heroin or opioid addiction in the past, and they continue to do so now. If you or a loved one is struggling with drug addiction and are unsure about what to do, Family First Intervention will welcome you with open arms.