Located on the Gulf Coast in southeastern Texas, Corpus Christi was home to 320,434 in 2014 which made it the eighth largest city in Texas. Corpus Christi has one of the most spectacular sunrises over the Gulf of Mexico which draws in tourists and vacationers. Corpus Christi isn’t hurting economically, it’s actually very wealthy city. The city’s main sources of revenue are trade and hospitality, but the riches can’t keep away drugs and there’s a dark side to Corpus Christi—gang violence, drug trafficking and addiction. The city is located just over 200 miles north of Mexico which plays a large role in the drug problem.
Corpus Christi Drug Related Crimes
Corpus Christi has a serious heroin problem on their hands, as mentioned before the city’s proximity to Mexico makes it more susceptible to drug crimes like trafficking and drug abuse. When it comes down to obtaining their drug of choice, a person suffering from an addiction might do things that they wouldn’t normally do like commit a crime. These crimes can include, but are not limited to, physical, verbal and sexual assault, robbery, drinking and driving or distribution of illegal drugs. The longer a person lives with a substance abuse problem, the more likely they will partake in other criminal behaviors.
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From the NIDA, “‘Criminal thinking’ is a combination of attitudes and beliefs that support a criminal lifestyle and criminal behavior, such as feeling entitled to have things one’s own way, feeling that one’s criminal behavior is justified, failing to accept responsibility for one’s actions, and consistently failing to anticipate or appreciate the consequences of one’s behavior. This pattern of thinking often contributes to drug use and criminal behavior.”
Drug Trafficking And Corpus Christi
In Texas, one of the common crimes is drug trafficking. “Traffickers typically conceal smaller drug shipments in hidden compartments in private and commercial vehicles, while they generally transport bulk quantities in commercial tractor-trailers, concealing them in and among legitimate cargo, under a cover load, or behind false walls in the trailer. Traffickers also recruit couriers traveling on passenger buses to transport drug shipments from the border area to interior U.S. staging areas and drug markets” (NDIC).
A lot of the smaller cities in Texas see a tremendous amount of drugs that trickle-down from the larger cities. A shipment of drugs to Dallas or Houston has potential to be distributed all over the country. But trafficking doesn’t only occur in mega metropolises, because drug trafficking organizations want to get their hands in the market wherever they can.
Also, from the NDIC, “the proximity of the Houston…region to the U.S.–Mexico border and the Gulf of Mexico makes the area susceptible to drug trafficking as well as other national security and law enforcement threats such as alien smuggling, weapons trafficking, and terrorist entry into the United States. Houston, located in Harris County, is the principal drug market area in the HIDTA region; however, other smaller, outlying drug markets exist in the area, including Corpus Christi and Beaumont/Port Arthur.”
Most Common Drugs Smuggled From Mexico
There are a lot of drugs smuggled into Texas from Mexico, but some of the most common that Corpus Christi sees are heroin, PCP cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine, amphetamine, and crack. Each of these drugs has different modes of transportation, abuse and high associated with them.
Corpus Christi’s War On Drugs And Anti-Addiction Efforts
Big and small cities often band together against drug trafficking in an attempt to fight against drug crime and abuse. In one case “a total of 10 individuals and associates of the Hermandad de Pistoleros Latinos gang are in custody following a coordinated round-up in multiple jurisdictions, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson of the Southern District of Texas and U.S. Attorney Richard L. Durbin Jr. of the Western District of Texas. This three-year investigation focused on drug trafficking and members of the HPL and their associates in the Corpus Christi, Houston and San Antonio areas” (U.S. Attorney’s Office).
What Has Texas Done To Help With Drug Trafficking?
Governor Rick Perry is a huge advocate of addiction treatment and while in office he pushed for stronger border security to lessen drug trafficking and in-turn, minimize drug crimes. On The Issue, Perry stated, “I don’t raise the issue of border security as a criticism of our neighbors to the south, but to show our resolve and unity in the struggle, as they deal with a wave of violence unlike anything outside of the world’s war zones”.
Perry also stood up for treating addiction less as a crime, and more as a disease. During his term he signed the Western Governor’s Association Resolution, which stated:
- Western Governors agree that states, not the federal government, are in the best position to understand the myriad of drug related issues facing their citizens and to initiate and implement drug policy strategies that will combat the substance abuse problems facing their communities.
- Western Governors support effective law enforcement initiatives and behavioral accountability. Partnerships between enforcement and treatment programs (or efforts) need to be strengthened and supported to enable behavioral changes.
- Western Governors recognize the escalating costs of incarceration and welcome effective common sense options within the criminal justice system that result in lessened drug abuse, healthier communities, and decreased criminal activity.
- Western Governors appreciate the unique problems confronting our communities from increased production, distribution and abuse of methamphetamine. The Governors will continue to attack this problem aggressively on several fronts, including enforcement of current criminal laws and expansion of treatment and intervention programs.
- Western Governors support sentencing laws that retain individual accountability for criminal conduct while administering proportional punishments that are fair and just.
- Western Governors support efforts to staunch the proliferation of illegal intravenous drug use. Common sense strategies aimed at protecting communities against discarded and potentially contaminated injection drug paraphernalia should be explored. Furthermore, the Governors encourage reform initiatives that will help and encourage injection drug users to obtain information, treatment, detoxification and social services.
So What Exactly Is A Substance Use Disorder And Addiction?
Drug abuse essentially means that a person’s using them to get high, or cope with mental issues, drug abuse eventually becomes learned behavior—which can lead to a substance use disorder. Cities like Corpus Christi are well-known for heroin use; when abused the opioids bind to naturally occurring opioid receptors in the brain that are responsible for creating dopamine and thus euphoria (happiness). Other drugs can have similar effects on the brain as well.
When a person uses a drug over and over, their brain becomes accustomed to having this synthetic form of dopamine. Sometimes it can lead to other problems, which is known as a substance use disorder—or “when the recurrent use of alcohol and/or drugs causes clinically and functionally significant impairment, such as health problems, disability, and failure to meet major responsibilities at work, school, or home. According to the DSM-5, a diagnosis of substance use disorder is based on evidence of impaired control, social impairment, risky use, and pharmacological criteria” (SAMHSA).
Addiction is where this can get tricky because anybody who abuses alcohol or drugs can show up late for work and lose their job, fail a final exam or upset their significant other. The difference is that over time a person is building up a tolerance and developing an addiction. Addiction is the final stage of a substance use disorder and as a person uses drugs or alcohol over and over they become obsessed with the buzz, the act of using and everything about the drug. Once the obsession happens, a person starts compulsively using the drug and will have a very hard time quitting it even if they want to. That’s addiction and sometimes seeking treatment is the best way to beat it.
Symptoms Of Addiction
Addiction is considered a “brain disease because drugs change the brain; they change its structure and how it works. These brain changes can be long-lasting and can lead to many harmful, often self-destructive, behaviors” (NIDA) Detecting an addiction isn’t always easy.
People with addictions can vary in many ways. For instance, a person who’s addicted to heroin from Corpus Christi will not be the same as a person who struggles with alcoholism from Detroit. There are symptoms that can be used as guidelines for treatment. Substance use disorders and addiction can be detected when at least two of these occur within a year:
- The substance is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended.
- There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful effort to cut down or control use of the substance.
- A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain the substance, use the substance, or recover from its effects.
- Craving, or a strong desire or urge to use the substance.
- Recurrent use of the substance resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home.
- Continued use of the substance despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of its use.
- Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of use of the substance.
- Recurrent use of the substance in situations in which it is physically hazardous.
- Use of the substance is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by the substance.
- Tolerance, as defined by either of the following:
- A need for markedly increased amounts of the substance to achieve intoxication or desired effect.
- A markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of the substance.
- Withdrawal, as manifested by either of the following:
- The characteristic withdrawal syndrome for that substance (as specified in the DSM- 5 for each substance).
- The substance (or a closely related substance) is taken to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms.
Addiction Treatment Methods
It isn’t usually difficult to figure out after a person becomes completely honest with his or herself and once an addiction is detected, the treatment can begin. As mentioned, everybody is different and can have different variables playing a role in their drug use, therefore, the treatment used will be different as well. Some commonly used treatment modalities are:
- Medication-Assisted Therapy
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Motivational Interviewing
- Contingency Management
- Recreational, Art and Adventure Therapy
- Mindfulness and Stress Management
- Relapse Prevention and Aftercare Support
- Short-term and Long-term Residential Treatment
- Peer and Family Support
- 12 Step Support Group
How Long Does Treatment Usually Last?
The length of individual rehab varies and is decided upon by professionals and patients during the evaluation. At this time each option will be weighed out and a suggestion will be made by a therapist. Unless a person is forced into rehab by the court system or their parent’s, the final choice concerning length of treatment will be up to them. Inpatient treatment can last anywhere from one week up to 30 days for short-term treatment. Long-term treatment is longer than 30 days and can last for up to 12 months or longer.
Though typically long-term treatment is 60 days, 90 days or 12 months. Studies suggest that any treatment “for less than 90 days is of limited effectiveness, and treatment lasting significantly longer is recommended for maintaining positive outcomes. For methadone maintenance, 12 months is considered the minimum” (NIDA). So “good outcomes are based on adequate treatment length,” at t the same time any treatment is deemed better than no treatment at all.
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Detoxification Comes Before Therapy
The withdrawals can be unbearable if a person has been abusing drugs for an extended amount of time and just stops. Detoxification will be the next step and will give a person in a rut of addiction a chance to get the chemicals out of their system. It won’t be easy and if someone is going to relapse, they are more likely to do it because of the withdrawals.
A medically supervised detoxification allows addiction professionals the opportunity to get to know their patients and help them cope with the pain of withdrawals. This is usually done so with a clean diet, a lot of water, vitamins, substantial rest and sometimes a medication to help with the most intense withdrawals.
Can A Medication-Assisted Therapy Help?
Medication-assisted therapy (MAT) can be used especially during the detoxification process to help a person who’s experiencing withdrawals. Like detoxification, a medication-assisted therapy is only meant to be implemented for a short period of time and though recovery lasts a lifetime—detoxification and MAT do not.
“MAT is primarily used for the treatment of addiction to opioids such as heroin and prescription pain relievers that contain opiates. The prescribed medication operates to normalize brain chemistry, block the euphoric effects of alcohol and opioids, relieve physiological cravings, and normalize body functions without the negative effects of the abused drug” (SAMHSA).
Inpatient Treatment Vs. Outpatient Treatment
Once a person finishes up with detoxification, they will likely have given some thought to inpatient and outpatient therapy. Let’s face it, rehab is a huge commitment and not everyone can pack up and go to rehab so outpatient rehab can be fitting for those people. But with the outpatient treatment option, a person never gets a chance to be removed from the environmental triggers that led them to drug use.
With inpatient treatment a person gets a chance to leave behind the stressors and grow in a recovery community. With outpatient treatment a person will be given a chance to test out what they learn about themselves as they go—and with inpatient treatment the triggers and environmental factors can be thrown at them all at once. Both inpatient and outpatient treatment have their ups and downs and whichever a person chooses is all based on what’s best for them and their recovery.
What Is Dialectical Behavior Therapy?
Originally based on cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) can be helpful for people suffering with co-occurring disorders or in cases where a patient is suicidal. DBT is “recognized as the gold standard psychological treatment” of suicidal patients with borderline personality disorder. “In addition, research has shown that it is effective in treating a wide range of other disorders such as substance dependence, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and eating disorders” (The Linehan Institute).
What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is based on the idea that every behavior is learned and can therefore be forgotten. Essentially CBT teaches patients to replace negative thoughts with positive ones by understanding why they think a certain way. Cognitive behavioral therapy is often the therapy that’s paired with a medication to treat addiction. CBT can be helpful in treating alcoholism, substance use disorders, depression and other mood disorders like anxiety.
Mindfulness And Stress Management Practices
Mindfulness is “the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment to moment” (UMass Medical School). When a person is living with an addiction, they aren’t likely dealing with emotions and stress in a healthy way. Mindfulness and stress management practices teaches people how to deal with stress in a healthy and natural way, because left to its own devices, the human mind deals with stress in several different ways:
- Problem-solving, “fix it”
- Avoidance and aversion
- Rumination Depression
- Worry and anxiety
- Often makes the problem worse
Relapse Prevention For After Treatment
When a person leaves rehab, whether they’re in Dallas, Corpus Christi, El Paso or anywhere else they’ll most likely be faced with some of the old triggers. Addiction is a disease of relapse, but that’s not a requirement. People often get out of treatment and assume that they’re cured but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Detoxification and rehab are only the beginning of treatment; now recovery will last a lifetime.
Relapse prevention helps a person recognize what his or her triggers are and then figure out how to deal with them. Aftercare is another perk of rehab and oftentimes after a person leaves treatment; their therapist will give them a call to check-up on them; which can be a nice reminder that there are people who care.
Recovery Starts At Vertava Health of Texas
Vertava Health of Texas is a little over six hours north of Corpus Christi, where holistic treatment meets adventure therapy and mindfulness in nature. Addiction can take over a person’s whole life so it needs to be treated holistically. At Vertava Health of Texas, we want to help you get your life back.
Contact us today to learn more about drug and alcohol rehab. Addiction is a disease of the mind, body and spirit—at Vertava Health of Texas, we want to help you get your life back!
- National Drug Intelligence Center — High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Drug Market Analysis
- National Drug Intelligence Center — South Texas Border and San Antonio Market Areas
- National Institute on Drug Abuse — Principles of Drug Abuse Treatment for Criminal Justice Populations - A Research-Based Guide
- National Institute on Drug Abuse — How Long Does Drug Addiction Treatment Last?
- National Institute on Drug Abuse — The Science of Drug Abuse and Addiction: The Basics
- On The Issues — Rick Perry on Drugs
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration — Medication and Counseling Treatment
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration — Substance Use Disorder
- The Linehan Institute — What is DBT?
- U.S. Attorney’s Office — South Texas HPL Gang Members and Associates Indicted for Firearms and Drug Trafficking