Drug and Alcohol Addiction In Alabama: Information, Statistics And Treatment
In the not-so-distant past, drugs abuse was primarily an urban problem. Cities faced an uphill battle getting help for people in the throes of addiction. Because drugs were most available in cities, cities were the main area of crisis. Unfortunately, that is still true, but what’s worse is that the crisis has spread from the cities into more rural areas across the country.
Alabama has certainly been a victim of such urban drug sprawl. With a mix of urban and rural areas, the state has seen an expansion of illicit drug industries – creating more dependencies and addiction as it sprawls. What was once only a problem in Mobile and Birmingham has made its way into smaller, rural towns. In fact, despite so many pockets of rural farmland, more opioids are prescribed in Alabama than any other state.
Consider Jefferson County. Though just 20 minutes from Birmingham, the community is still fairly rural. In 2012, the area was rocked by 58 heroin-related fatalities. Jasper, another Alabama community that has been plagued by addiction, is just an hour away from the city of Birmingham. With a population of about 67,000, the largest demographic there is white, working-class women who have been hit the hardest nationally for addiction. In the last 15 years, the death rate among this demographic has risen more sharply than any others. Drugs, which for many offered a way to ease the burden of a difficult life, have robbed these people of a future.
Understanding the Shortfalls of Addiction Recovery in Alabama
Prescription drug abuse is the fastest-growing substance abuse problem in the U.S., particularly in Alabama. Alabama does have an operating Controlled Substances Prescription Database, established in 2006 to help combat prescription drug abuse. However, the most recent data shows that at least 5–7% of the state’s adults report abusing prescription drugs in a given month. Pill mills and doctor shopping remain big contributors to the problem, despite Alabama’s current enforcement efforts.
Despite the governor signing an executive order to combat the rising epidemic in the state, Alabama’s answer to addiction seems to still be stuck in a cycle of arrest, release, further addiction and more arrests. Until the state starts seeing addicts as victims instead of criminals, their problems with addiction will certainly get worse before they get better. Recent reports from the Alabama Epidemiological Outcomes Workgroup indicate drug and alcohol abuse remain major concerns throughout the state.
Although statewide usage of alcohol and certain drugs may be below the national average, state substance abuse rates continue to climb. One culprit in this equation may be economics. The most recent poverty rate for Alabama was 19.2% overall, significantly higher than the national rate of 13.5%. Unemployment rates are also higher in the rural areas of Alabama, increasing the likelihood that those living there will turn to substance abuse for relief from financial and other stressors. Poverty-stricken areas struggle with a lack of access to adequate health care, and doctors may be quick to prescribe pills without further diagnosing other issues – mental health hasn’t been a state priority. Some experts believe that mental health problems alone have become epidemic in the state.
State Efforts Have Failed to Help Those Who Need It Most
Some efforts have been made to curb the addiction problem in Alabama; the most recent data indicates that methamphetamine abuse declined significantly after the passage of the Combating Methamphetamine Epidemic Act (CMEA) in 2005, but methamphetamine lab seizures have increased again. According to the most recent data, meth lab seizures in Alabama increased 290% between 2007 and 2009. Compare this to the national average, which showed a 76% increase at the time. Both numbers are alarming, but the rates for Alabama are out of control.
Despite their best efforts, Alabama continues battling drug and alcohol abuse, especially among youth. The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program intends to implement a five-state, regional license plate reader data storage program in Alabama. The goal is to prevent residents from driving under the influence and engaging in reckless behavior and to increase information sharing among law enforcement and civilians. Currently, the Gulf Coast HIDTA funds five task forces across Alabama made up of over 27 law enforcement agencies. But these task forces cannot realistically reach the entire state; only 76 full-time drug enforcement officers are spread across them.
And for those of us dedicated to drug treatment and recovery, more laws and arrests don’t seem like a solution.
Florida Treatment Center Offers the Best Solution for Addiction Recovery
At The Treatment Center of Palm Beaches, we know that changing your environment is a crucial first step to recovery. If you are in a state like Alabama, where opiates and other drugs are ubiquitous, relapse is extremely common – in part due to the availability of drugs in the state. Because Florida has been on the front lines of the drug epidemic, the state has developed strategies to combat the crisis and care for addicts who are suffering from a disease that, for many, is completely out of their control. Florida is home to groundbreaking strategies from experienced counselors and medical professionals who have seen the devastating effects of addiction first hand.
Unlike Alabama and some other states, Florida is working to help those struggling with mental health issues. It’s the first state to offer a Medicaid plan exclusively for those with mental illness. Since mental issues like depression and bipolar disorders go hand-in-hand with addiction, Florida’s culture is more understanding of what addicts endure and so can be a better, more understanding place to recover.
For addicts in Alabama looking for recovery options with a lower chance for relapse, Florida offers hope. In fact, it’s known as “The Recovery State” because of the cooperation between the state and addiction treatment centers. Many people in Florida recovery centers and addiction treatment programs hail from areas across the country and globe because of the state’s reputation for solid treatment programs that aim to help rather than punish addicts.
Find Help at the Treatment Center of Palm Beaches
Despite many good programs for addiction recovery in Florida, we stand out among them for a reason. We don’t treat the addiction, we treat the addict – and we do so with cutting-edge research and the most skilled and compassion counselors in the state.
We understand that addiction is a cycle and that, in order to break it, a team of caring people must be involved to treat the physical, the emotional, and the spiritual aspects of those who are dependent. Our goal is your goal: to return you to a healthy life, drug-free and with hope for the future.