Texas is a gigantic state—it’s the second to Alaska in landmass, and second to California in population. There were 26.5 million people living in Texas in 2013. That same year there were 307 calls to the poison control center for heroin overdose and the average age for treatment was 33 (National Institute on Drug Abuse). Heroin isn’t the only drug problem in Texas, and other illicit drugs like crystal meth, cocaine, prescription drugs, and marijuana are frequently abused and can often land an otherwise normal person in prison or a body bag after an overdose.
If you think that the substance abuse trends that Texas faces has anything to do with the close proximity to the Mexican border, you’re absolutely right. The great state of Texas battles a problem against substance abuse and addiction that has been growing worse every year. With drug cartels and drug trafficking organizations on the rise, the people of Texas also see illegal drugs in large numbers, as well as illegally used prescription drugs and of course the primary drug of abuse in Texas—alcohol.
What Is Substance Abuse?
Substance abuse can be drinking alcohol to cope with emotional issues, using a friend or family member’s prescriptions, using illegal drugs, or overindulgence or careless use of any addictive drug. It’s a nationwide problem, that not only leads to mental health problems, but can also lead to diseases like diabetes, cirrhosis, heart disease, hepatitis, and HIV. Substance abuse can also lead to addiction, which is a chronic disease wherein a person becomes powerless over drugs or alcohol and can’t stop using them even if they want to.
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Addiction In The United States
In many parts of the United States addiction is becoming a bigger problem than we can handle. “In 2014, an estimated 22.5 million Americans aged 12 and older self-reported needing treatment for alcohol or illicit drug use.” Furthermore “by 2020, mental and substance use disorders will surpass all physical diseases as a major cause of disability worldwide” (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). Texas is no different—and large cities like Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth and Austin are some of the first places that receive illegal drug shipments from Mexico. Drug trends are growing in the United States and although it’s not the worst drug state on the list of stops, Texas sees a great deal of suffering due to alcohol and drug abuse.
Texas Drug Facts
The border of Texas and Mexico is partially responsible for the amount of drugs being smuggled into the states. “Texas shares a 1,254-mile border with Mexico that follows the course of the Rio Grande River. This border area, a large portion of which is open and incapable of being continuously monitored by border enforcement agencies, is extensively used by drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) to smuggle illicit drugs into the United States” (National Drug Intelligence Center). Drug trafficking organizations are responsible for daily shipments into Texas with copious amounts of marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin.
Drugs Most Commonly Abused In Texas
Because of the regular shipments coming into the state, the availability of some drugs in Texas are greater than others. Not only are illicit drugs abused, but people are just as likely to abuse alcohol and prescription drugs as well. Some of the most commonly abused drugs in Texas are:
- Prescription Drugs
Alcohol Abuse In Texas
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “alcohol is the primary drug of abuse in Texas. In 2012, 58 percent of Texas secondary school students in grades 7–12 had ever used alcohol, and 25 percent had consumed alcohol in the last month. Of particular concern is heavy consumption of alcohol, or binge drinking, which is de ned as drinking ve or more drinks at one time.”
Alcohol abuse can be dangerous and death includes more than alcohol poisoning. Abusing alcohol impairs a person’s motor functions and judgement which can be a lethal combination. Alcohol abuse can often lead to automobile accidents and the “liquid courage” also has a tendency to lead a person to do things that they wouldn’t normally do.
Marijuana Abuse In Texas
Marijuana is often referred to as the “gateway drug” therefore it can lead to addiction to more potent, more dangerous drugs. The availability of marijuana in Texas is widespread. In 2002, there were 555,324 kilograms of marijuana seized in Texas (National Drug Intelligence Center – NDIC) which ranks the state first for the total amount captured by law enforcements.
Marijuana use disorders can have adverse consequences to a person’s mental health and may even lead to a schizophrenia disorder. Additionally, “marijuana/cannabis was the primary problem for 23 percent of admissions to treatment programs in 2013, compared with 8 percent in 1995. While 44 percent of marijuana/cannabis admissions in 2013 reported no second substance abuse problem, 19 percent had a problem with alcohol. The average age of marijuana/cannabis clients was 23” (NIDA).
Heroin Abuse In Texas
A lot of the time a person becomes dependent on an opioid drug that has been prescribed to them—like Oxycontin, Vicodin, or Percocet. After becoming dependent a lot of people do what anyone would do in a situation like that—Anything they can to get more opioids. Sometimes this can mean stealing from someone they love or switching to a cheaper alternative like heroin. Heroin abuse doesn’t always begin with a prescription opioid, but it is certainly one of the most common introductions. Whether they’re taking prescription opioids or using heroin, they can lead to addiction and death.
“In 2013, there were 319 heroin poisoning deaths in Texas. The decline in the average age of the decedents from 40 in 2008 to 36 in both 2012 and 2013 is evidence of the increasing use by young adults. Of the 2013 deaths, 61 percent involved only heroin, and 14 percent also involved cocaine” (NIDA). Texas was ranked third in the United States for the amount of heroin seized by authorities with an estimated 291 kilograms in 2002 (NDIC).
Methamphetamine Abuse In Texas
Psychological treatment for meth abuse is difficult and can last for several years after rehab. It’s a dangerous drug and abuse not only has a potential to land a person in prison, it can poison and kill as well. “Of the 2013 methamphetamine exposures, the average age was 29. There were also 215 calls for exposure to pharmaceutical amphetamines or phentermine. More than one-half were male, and the average age was 23, which shows the problems with misuse of these drugs by children and youth” (NIDA).
Cocaine Abuse In Texas
Cocaine is a stimulant that can be snorted, injected, laced with other drugs or manufactured into crack. The cocaine in Texas is often straight from Mexico, although it can make it’s way from other countries like Columbia as well. The amount of cocaine seized by Texas authorities in 2002 was more than anywhere else in the nation at 17,008 kilograms (NDIC).
“There has been a 17% decrease in kilograms of cocaine seized on the Texas–Mexico border from 2010 to 2015, according to the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC). Texas Poison Center Network abuse and misuse calls involving the use of cocaine peaked at 1,410 in 2006 and then declined to 504 in 2015” (The University of Texas at Austin).
No matter how much of the drug is seized, cocaine is available and abusing it can have serious consequences to a person’s physical and mental health. “Cocaine (both crack and powder) represented 11 percent of all admissions to DSHS-funded treatment programs in 2013, down from 35 percent in 1995. Among all cocaine admissions, cocaine inhalers were the youngest and most likely to be Hispanic. Cocaine injectors were older than inhalers but younger than crack smokers, and they were the most likely to be White” (NIDA).
Prescription Drug Abuse In Texas
Prescription drugs represent a large number of substance abuse cases and are also responsible for a large number of deaths in the Texas. “In 2013, only 622 deaths in Texas were specifically blamed on opioids, mostly painkillers, according to the health services department. But the newspapers tallied 798 prescription-drug related deaths recorded by local medical examiners that year in just 17 of the state’s 254 counties” (Dallas News).
Some of the most commonly abused prescription drugs in Texas can include:
Because of drug trafficking and other modes of easy access to them, some drugs are added to the list of already available prescription drugs in Texas. These are “prescription and ‘trial’ drugs not approved for human consumption in the United States are readily and legally available along the border, where medications can be sold over-the-counter” (NIDA).
Vertava Health of Texas Difference—Holistic Treatment Tailored To You
There are a lot of different ways you can minimize your own substance abuse, or pretend like a loved one doesn’t have a problem with drugs or alcohol. Unfortunately this is frequently the case and it doesn’t help you or them. Sometimes escaping from the harsh drug induced lifestyle, environment and getting the help you need can be the best way to treat an addiction. Treatment at Vertava Health of Texas can help you free your body and mind with adventure therapy and other treatment modalities.
If you’re struggling with a substance abuse problem, or addiction contact Vertava Health of Texas to ask about our holistic treatment options to start your recovery journey and free yourself from the bondage of drugs and alcohol. With help from Vertava Health of Texas, you don’t have to be another drug and alcohol statistic.
- Dallas News — Prescription Drug Deaths in Texas Vastly Undercounted
- National Drug Intelligence Center — Texas Drug Threat Assessment
- National Institute on Drug Abuse — Cocaine
- National Institute on Drug Abuse — Substance Abuse Trends in Texas
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration — Prevention of Substance Abuse and Mental Illness
- The University of Texas at Austin — Substance Abuse Trends in Texas: August 2016