Perhaps most notably known as being “first in flight,” North Carolina is home to the Wright Brothers and other famous faces like Zach Galifianakis and the late Andy Griffith. North Carolina also finds itself home to a growing substance abuse problem that’s threatening the well-being of residents across the state.
Substance Abuse In North Carolina
Substance abuse statistics and population information can help to provide a clear picture of what drug abuse looks like in North Carolina.
- 5 percent of high school students (grades 9-12) reported using cocaine at least once in their lifetime.
- Cocaine is the most commonly abused drug in North Carolina among adults aged 35 and younger.
- Powdered cocaine and crack cocaine were responsible for 291 overdose deaths in 2015 alone, a statistic that has nearly tripled since 2013.
- Crack cocaine remains one of the most dangerously abused drugs in North Carolina, with 7 percent of residents aged 18-35 reporting trying it at least once in their lifetime.
- North Carolina has experienced an 884 percent increase in heroin-related overdose deaths since 2010.
- Prescription opioid painkillers have topped the charts for overdose deaths for a decade, reaching an all-time high in 2008 and remaining above 600 deaths per year since then.
- 5 percent of adolescents aged 12-17 admitted to nonmedical use of pain relievers in the past year.
- The rate of opioids prescribed by physicians in North Carolina has increased tenfold since pain-management protocols changed in the late 1980s.
- Alcohol intoxication was responsible for 30 percent of traffic fatalities in the state of North Carolina in 2015.
- 14 percent of high school students in North Carolina reported that they tried their first drink of alcohol before the age of 13.
- Costs incurred as a result of alcohol abuse or alcoholism in North Carolina topped $7 billion in 2015. These costs are shared by the state, local municipalities and individuals.
North Carolina’s Addiction Prevention Initiatives
North Carolina is combating its prescription opioid issues by starting with the source. Medical professionals have banded together to work with the state government on prescription opioid regulations and restrictions. New laws have been passed on a state level that assists in the regulation of prescription pain relievers and other controlled substances.
This partnership has also resulted in the increased utilization of treatment methods that have a proven track record with specific types of addiction, such as the utilization of methadone and buprenorphine through medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction.
The state of North Carolina has also poured over $1.5 million into combating illicit drug use at a community level. This grant was approved by North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper to use toward educating youth on the dangers of illicit drug use, improve access to treatment and recovery programs, and offer harm-reduction programs. North Carolina is working with 12 community partners to allocate this grant in ways that will benefit the most people possible.
North Carolina Addiction Treatment Programs
North Carolina offers a variety of drug and alcohol addiction treatment programs for both in-state residents and out-of-state patients. While all addiction treatment programs share the same goal of helping patients find lifelong recovery, their approaches and methodologies often vary from facility to facility.
From holistic treatment programs to long-term and short-term residential facilities, North Carolina hosts many treatment options. Aftercare programs and outpatient drug rehab programs are also available in the state. Choosing the appropriate program will depend on the patient’s individual needs as well as the length and severity of their addiction.
Some individuals choose to enter a drug or alcohol rehabilitation program on their own, while others may need encouragement from friends and family. Intervention services may be necessary to help them realize that professional addiction treatment is necessary. An intervention can offer a professional approach for families to have an open discussion with their loved one about their addiction and the effect it has had on their lives.
Many professional interventions are lead by certified clinicians or counselors, such as a psychiatrist or social worker. These individuals have extensive training on how to respectfully approach this type of topic while keeping each patient’s family completely involved in the intervention process.
Drug And Alcohol Detox
Medical detox helps patients to safely rid their body of drugs or alcohol while clinically managing withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal from some substances, like benzodiazepines, alcohol, and opioids, can sometimes cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. Medical detox provides round-the-clock support to keep patients safe and as comfortable as possible as their body adjusts to sobriety.
Medical detox only treats the physical symptoms of severe addiction and does not treat the mental or emotional aspects that often contribute to addiction. Medical detox is the first step in the addiction treatment process. For long-lasting recovery, detox should be followed by a professional inpatient addiction treatment program that provides therapy and relapse-prevention skills.
Inpatient Drug Rehab Programs
During inpatient drug rehab, patients live on-site at the treatment facility. How long treatment lasts is usually determined by the length and severity of the addiction, as well as the programs offered by that specific rehab center.
While living at an inpatient rehab facility, patients are removed from the triggers and stressors of their previous environment. One of the biggest advantages of a residential or inpatient treatment program is the focus on treatment and round-the-clock support it can offer to patients.
Outpatient Drug Rehab
Outpatient drug and alcohol rehab takes place in a dedicated meeting facility, but patients return home at night. Outpatient rehab is generally recommended to be utilized after completing an inpatient program. Patients may find additional support with an outpatient program as they make the transition back home.
Outpatient drug rehab programs vary in length and intensity. An intensive outpatient program will usually meet several days each week for five to six hours at a time. Other outpatient programs may only meet one to two days per week for a couple hours at each meeting. If utilizing an outpatient program as a standalone treatment option, it is important to choose one that has a more intensive or comprehensive approach to treatment.
Sober Living Houses
Sometimes called halfway houses, sober living houses are generally used as a step-down level of care for individuals who have completed an inpatient rehab program but are not quite ready to return home. Sober living houses are able to offer continued support to their residents and can often create lifelong friendships among those who live in the homes.
North Carolina sober living homes can provide individuals with a stable transition back to independent living, which can greatly reduce the chance of a relapse in the future.
Aftercare Services And Alumni Programs
Aftercare services and alumni programs offer continued transitional support to those who need it. Addiction is a lifelong battle, which is why taking advantage of aftercare services and alumni programs is so important for many individuals.
Aftercare services offer ongoing resources, personalized support and counseling services that encourage patients to practice the skills they learned during inpatient rehab and apply them in their day-to-day lives.
Alumni programs and aftercare are usually offered by the inpatient rehab facility and are made available to patients who have successfully completed their own treatment program. It is not uncommon for patients to participate in alumni programs with friends they had made during inpatient rehab, oftentimes strengthening their friendship and creating a strong bond.
North Carolina Addiction Treatment Therapies
Some clinical and behavioral therapies that are frequently used in North Carolina addiction treatment programs include:
- Individual counseling
- Group therapy sessions
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Dialectical behavior therapy
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing
- Motivational interviewing
- Family therapy
- Medication-assisted treatment
- Treatment for co-occurring disorders (mental health diagnosis and addiction)
- Gender-specific treatment groups
Numerous treatment modalities are used in addiction treatment that is intended to complement or enhance other clinical and behavioral therapies while focusing on whole-body wellness. These treatment modalities are commonly referred to as complementary therapies.
Complementary therapies can include:
- Adventure Therapy
- Equine Therapy
- Pilates and other forms of exercise
How To Pay For Addiction Treatment
Many commercial and private health insurance plans will cover some or all of the cost of addiction treatment. It is important to understand what each plan will and will not cover prior to searching for an addiction treatment program. Variations in coverage may include a length of stay limitations, in-network versus out-of-network facilities, medical detox coverage, and aftercare service options.
Health insurance providers offering coverage in the state of North Carolina may include:
- Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina
- Assurant Health
For individuals without health insurance coverage, there are other ways to pay for drug and alcohol rehab. Many rehab programs offer payment plans that can help break down the cost of rehab into more affordable monthly payments. Other individuals may qualify for healthcare loans or financial assistance, taking away the stress of paying for rehab in full.
Traveling For Addiction Treatment
When searching for addiction treatment that matches someone’s unique needs, the best rehab center may not simply be a drive away. Fortunately, there are many drug and alcohol rehab centers across the country that offer effective addiction treatment. For this reason, it is important to not limit the search to in-state rehabs.
It is not uncommon for families to intentionally send their loved ones out of state for treatment, as this can enable them to focus fully on their recovery.
Participating in an out-of-state program can also increase the chance of a lifelong recovery by removing the individual from their previous environmental stressors.Article Sources
Health Sciences Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill - http://www.nchealthinfo.org/health-topics/substance-abuse/
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services - https://www.hhs.gov/ash/oah/facts-and-stats/national-and-state-data-sheets/adolescents-and-substance-abuse/north-carolina/index.html
National Institute on Drug Abuse - https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/opioid-summaries-by-state/north-carolina-opioid-summary
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration - https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/2015_North-Carolina_BHBarometer.pdf