RU Texas The Beat

A Victim of Geography: Where Is Texas’ Drug Supply Coming From?

[fa icon="calendar'] Nov 25, 2016 10:21:17 AM / by RU Texas posted in Drug Abuse, Treatment, Alcoholism, Texas, Drug Prevention

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As Texas continues to reel from rampant alcohol and drug addiction, and as more and more residents succumb to overdose and other substance abuse-related causes of death, the state’s elected officials, law enforcement officers and prevention advocates are left with an increasing number of questions. Perhaps the most direct and profound of these questions is: “How is this happening?” State DEA agents seem to have their finger on the pulse of the conditions that create and sustain drug abuse within Texas’ borders; however, the problem is more complex and multilayered than many may realize, including where the drugs are coming from and how they’re getting into the hands of distributors and users.

Texas’ drug supply emanates from a variety of foreign and domestic sources. Its newest, and arguably most pervasive drug of choice (prescription opioids) can be found right in residents’ medicine cabinets and in physicians’ offices. There are, however, many other substances that threaten the health and safety of residents on a daily basis, and they’re coming in from practically every which way. Marijuana and alcohol continue to be the most commonly abused substances in Texas; however, two of the most deadly drug threats are unquestionably heroin and methamphetamine:

Heroin – Although United States heroin deaths have skyrocketed over the past decade, the problem doesn’t start within our borders. Most of the heroin that ends up in the United States comes over the border from Mexico, according to the DEA’s 2015 National Drug Threat Assessment Summary. In 2010, the National Office of Drug Control reported that 80 percent of the United States’ heroin supply came from Afghanistan. This represents a significant shift, and puts the lone star state right in the crossfire of trafficking. Texas’ close proximity to Mexico has made it a primary hub for domestic distribution, and a target of the crime and addiction that accompanies that distinction.

Methamphetamine – A 2015 report from the University of Texas put methamphetamine second on the list of the state’s drug threats. Last year, meth use was at record highs throughout the state. Much like heroin, the problem is being fueled by Mexican and Central American cartels; however, Texas also has its fair share of makeshift labs where the drug is cooked for domestic distribution. Deaths from methamphetamine eclipsed 400 for the first time ever in 2014.

A better and more detailed understanding of where these drugs are coming from and how they are being manufactured can empower all stakeholders to address the problem and develop proactive and realistic measures for success. Education regarding the multi-faceted nature of Texas’ substance abuse problem is a valuable tool in the arsenal of prevention.

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2016 Red Ribbon Week Spreads Awareness of Drug Addiction

[fa icon="calendar'] Nov 7, 2016 4:51:02 PM / by RU Texas posted in Drug Treatment, Drug Abuse, drug addiction, Red Ribbon Week, National Family Partnership, Education

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October 31st marked the conclusion of this year’s Red Ribbon Week, a nine-day event meant to spread awareness and education regarding the dangers of drug abuse and addiction. Red Ribbon Week was established by the National Family Partnership, an organization established in 1980 by parents affected by drug addiction in their families in an effort promote empowerment and action. Since their inception, they’ve become a national leader in prevention, education and advocacy on a mission to lead and support American families in nurturing the full potential of healthy and drug-free youth. This year marked the 31st anniversary of Red Ribbon Week, the organization’s flagship event.

Red Ribbon Week helps families and loved ones of those who are vulnerable to addiction recognize the signs, learn how to intervene in the event of a problem and how develop techniques to keep their loved ones away from drugs. This year’s theme was YOLO (You Only Live Once): Be Drug Free. Families and schools across America were invited and encouraged to participate in Red Ribbon Week in whatever capacity possible, whether it was through active curriculum ideas, integrating existing ideas in their schools or communities, or simply promoting the event on social media. This year marked the sixth annual photo contest, in which $20,000 will be dispensed among ten winning schools across America.

Events like Red Ribbon Week, as well as organizations like the National Family Partnership, are much-needed resources in an increasingly uphill battle against drug abuse and addiction. In a time which today’s youth are more vulnerable than ever to becoming tomorrow’s addicts, it’s critical that education, awareness and empowerment start as early as possible, and be offered in school and at home. There is no shortage of opportunities to get involved with NFP and Red Ribbon Week and do your part in curtailing substance abuse in your community.

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Population of Addicted Homeless Rises Dramatically in Austin

[fa icon="calendar'] Nov 1, 2016 3:48:28 PM / by RU Texas posted in Recovery, Drug Abuse, Treatment, Alcoholism, Homelessness

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If you live in the Austin area and have noticed a dramatic increase in the region’s homeless population, you’re not imagining things. A recent survey conducted by Ending Community Homelessness Coalition (ECHO) revels a 17 percent increase of homelessness in the past year. Part of this influx is attributable to the homeless-friendly climate found in Austin and nearby areas, where the economically disadvantaged can get a hot meal and find agreeable weather much easier than in other areas of the United States. Some shelters are serving lunch to an average of 300 homeless  per day, many of whom are hoping to get a fresh start in Austin and get back on their feet.

Unfortunately, however, there is a prodigious and increasing culture of addiction throughout the city’s steadily rising homeless contingent. The same ECHO report that showed the overall increase also showed that 60 percent of Austin’s homeless have reported a drug or alcohol problem and approximately 80 percent were unemployed. A decidedly progressive town, homeless addicts are liable to find more compassion and treatment options in Austin than many other areas of Texas or the rest of the country. Addiction and homelessness have always been closely linked, with nearly 40 percent of American homeless abusing alcohol while just over a quarter reportedly abuse drugs.

Recovery Unplugged Texas is mindful of the relationship between addiction and economic hardship, and we have established our facility in Austin to help our patients begin the journey of fighting back against addiction and reclaiming their lives. You don’t have to lose everything just because you’ve fallen victim to drug or alcohol dependency. It’s important to realize that help is out there, and it’s closer than you think. If you are looking for quality addiction treatment in the Austin area, we are standing by to offer, effective, music-based care. Don’t let addiction destroy your health and your quality of life.

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Holding Them Accountable: Find Out Where Your Candidates Stand on Addiction Treatment

[fa icon="calendar'] Oct 26, 2016 2:57:36 PM / by RU Texas posted in Recovery, Drug Treatment, Drug Abuse, Alcohol Treatment, Treatment, Alcoholism, Election

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As coverage of the 2016 presidential election dominates virtually every media outlet in the country, far less attention is being paid to the down-ballot races that will be decided on the same day. We’ve only recently begun to hear about the importance of these contests, and it’s been largely in relation to the race for the White House. On November 8, 2016, Americans will determine the outcome of 469 separate elections (34 Senate seats and all 435 House seats) that will arguably prove to have more impact on their everyday lives than who’s sitting in the Oval Office. This is an opportunity to affect real change in their community and let their voices be heard.

Those of us that have been impacted by drug or alcohol addiction, whether directly or indirectly, will undoubtedly want to know what our current and prospective leaders plan to do to address this public health crisis going forward. One of the best and most accurate ways to do this is by getting engaged and investigating how they’ve acted on this issue in the past. We can start the process of vetting our candidates by checking their voting records. These records are public and are a profound indicator of our leaders’ level of involvement and willingness to improve the treatment climate in their communities.

The opioid elephant in the room is getting harder and harder to ignore. While it’s now wildly popular to come down in favor of treatment reform and increased access, funding this initiative is another matter, altogether. The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act may have enjoyed a comfortable 94-1 vote in the Senate, but that’s not where the legislative battle ends. To date, the bill is nowhere near paid for. The point is that there is legislation being discussed every day to combat the rise of addiction in America; some even makes it to a vote. We can begin to turn the tide of substance abuse in this country by better understanding how the leaders we put in power plan to address it.

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