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Chandler isn’t the most widely acclaimed city in Arizona and may not be the state’s most popular tourist destination, but it is a densely populated, large city and a provider of quality treatment resources for substance abuse and addiction. Chandler was home to 254,276 people as of July 2014.1
Drug abuse is no foreign concept to the state of Arizona. The rate of past-month use of illicit drugs remains higher in Arizona than it is nationally, at 8.95 percent versus 8.02 percent.2 Drug-related overdoses took 981 lives in 2007 in Arizona.3 That puts the average number of deaths per 100,000 people at 15.5 that year, compared to 12.7 per 100,000 nationally.4
Chandler’s drug-related crime rates have soared over the years, as illegal substances continue to be trafficked in from nearby states and across the Mexican border. Arizona has long been a significant part of the Mexican-American drug trade and used as a transshipment state and distribution center for cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine, and Mexican black tar and brown powder heroin.5
Consequently, many of Chandler’s residents have found themselves serving time behind bars. As of late August 2014, there were 41,676 people incarcerated in the state.6 The penalties for drug crimes are steep in Arizona. Harder sentences are brought down on offenders who traffic drugs, especially those who are smuggling substances like cocaine and heroin. Many people are surprised though to find out how strict the laws are in Arizona against the possession, sale, and trafficking of marijuana. Fines for marijuana-related crimes can reach $150,000 and 10 years in prison.7
Efforts are certainly in place to deter these kinds of activities, but only so much can be done on law enforcement’s behalf. Arizona has a strong prescription-monitoring program in effect to keep a watchful eye on physician-prescribing and pharmacy-dispensing practices. Nevertheless, doctors have the job of discerning which of the individuals they see and treat every day really need strong medications, like OxyContin and Adderall, and which do not.
Prescription drugs are often not hard come by in Chandler. From 2010 to 2011, 5.66 percent of people living in Arizona aged 12 and older reported using prescription drugs without a medical reason during that time, compared to 4.57 percent of all Americans.8
America has done a fantastic job over the years of painting alcohol as a safe and legal beverage that can help you relax, have more fun, and enjoy your life. Unfortunately, the United States is also home to a great number of people who are suffering from alcoholism – 17 million to be exact.9 On a given day in 2011, 6,441 people were in treatment in Arizona for the abuse of alcohol alone, while another 14,677 individuals were in treatment for alcohol abuse in tandem with abuse of other substances.10 Nationally, those figures were 221,631 and 535,259.
Alcohol abuse in Chandler is certainly an issue. That is without question. Rates of alcoholism in Arizona have remained high enough for the state to hold a spot as one of the top 10 states in the nation in terms of residents suffering from alcohol dependence.11
Often, people don’t take alcohol abuse as seriously as drug abuse. They assume an addiction to one is not the same as the other, but both produce a noticeable tolerance, cause individuals distress in their lives, and impact their health, emotional stability, ability to hold steady employment, and ability to maintain healthy relationships.
Frequently, drinkers will tout alcohol as a safer alternative to drug abuse. Binge drinking is viewed as acceptable behavior across much of America, especially among youths, who consequently do it the most. Recent studies stress that one in 10 high school seniors engages in binge drinking.12
However mainstream alcohol has become, it still claims a great many lives every year. Alcohol poisoning kills an average of 2,362 people in Arizona each year and around 88,000 across the nation.13,14
If you’re fortunate enough to escape an early demise due to alcohol, you still run the risk of serious charges and jail time by using it in the wrong ways. In 2013, 31,662 people were arrested for driving under the influence in Arizona, and many of them in Chandler.15 Across the country, 1.4 million were arrested for the same crime in 2010.16 These individuals run the risk of hurting themselves or someone else every time they engage in drunk driving practices, and these are just the figures for those who get caught.
If someone is arrested in Arizona for driving under the influence, individuals face possible penalties spanning from varied jail sentences of a day to greater than four months, fines in excess of $750, 3-12 months with a suspended license, and the installation of a breathalyzer that controls whether or not a vehicle can be started.17
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Mental illness often compounds the issues substance abuse can cause. Many times, individuals who are plagued by both problems find that their overlapping symptoms are difficult to separate from each another, and they may very be engaging in drug and alcohol abuse as a means of self-medicating their feelings.
For instance, anxiety is an uncomfortable and frequently debilitating mental health ailment that affects about one in four adults in America every year.18 It can cause attacks to the nervous system and inflict the sufferer with trouble breathing, numbness in the face and limbs, paranoid feelings that they are in danger of being harmed, and blackouts. Likewise, substance abuse can also cause anxiety to form. When both issues are present, it can be hard to discern which came first.
Sometimes, heavy amounts of drug or alcohol abuse can even inflict individuals with substance-induced mental health disorders, such as:
If you have found yourself struggling with anxiety or panic attacks, bouts of depression, turbulent mood swings, and other emotional issues, and reaching for prescription drugs, marijuana, or alcohol, you aren’t alone. Around 294,000 people are living with mental health disorders across the state of Arizona.20 Of the 11,813 people who died in Arizona in 2006, 979 of their deaths were attributed to suicide.21,22 It’s important to get professional help to ensure your ongoing health and stability.
Mental illness can also be further complicated by feelings of inadequacy, sorrow, and despair. Left untreated, depressive symptoms can and often do lead to disastrous consequences, such as suicide. Mental health disorders are also linked to an increased predisposal to a life of crime, and drug crime is no exception. In 2008 alone, there were 8,900 people serving sentences in Arizona facilities who were affected by mental illness.23
Nationwide, 11,889 institutions are in operation every day treating clients for drug and alcohol abuse.24 Around 3,803 of them also provide help to those individuals who need mental health care.25 There are four treatment centers within Chandler city limits, and some have the ability to also treat co-occurring disorders.26 You will also find two quality sober living facilities in Chandler that are prepared to help recovering individuals transition back into everyday life without drugs and alcohol.27 A one-day census total from 2006 accounted for 26,913 people being enrolled in substance abuse treatment facilities across the state of Arizona, with 8 percent being minors.28
Equine-assisted therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, and Solution-Focused Therapy can all be effective interventions for individuals presenting complex treatment cases. These treatment modalities are ideal for sufferers of co-occurring substance abuse and mental health disorders. About 29 percent of people who battle drug and alcohol abuse fall into this category.29 With just one treatment center in the area servicing those suffering from co-occurring disorders, residents of Chandler may need to go outside city limits for the help they need.30
Taking advantage of therapies like CBT and MI can aid in curbing substance abuse issues, and these rehab models can also help to effectively repair relationships damaged by years of substance abuse or poor behavior. Family therapy can intervene in these circumstances, too, and assist in helping loved ones to better understand what it is their relative or friend has been going through and how they can support positive change for that person.
For more information on options in Chandler, reach out to the Chandler Coalition on Youth Substance Abuse or the Division of Behavioral Health Services at the Arizona Department of Health Services.