In time of shifting services in Stanislaus, how to spot addiction, help loved one beat it

Drug addiction has plagued Stanislaus County, whether it’s the methamphetamine craze, heroin and now the extreme dangers of fentanyl.

Treatment options are changing with closure of the county’s Genesis Narcotic Treatment Program on Scenic Drive, which has served as many as 370 clients annually in the last six years.

With the closure of the county-operated program, there will be fewer counselors to guide addicts through the recovery process to help them return to work, rebuild family relationships and not live on the streets.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid prescribed by doctors for severe pain after surgery or in the advanced stages of cancer. Drug dealers are selling illegal fentanyl as pills, powders and nasal spray, and now users are smoking it. Only a small amount can be fatal.

What are the signs of addiction?

Those concerned that a loved one is abusing fentanyl or another opioid drug should watch for changes in behavior: withdrawing from social interactions, losing interest in school and recreation, engaging in risky behavior.

Young people sinking deep into drug use may exhibit hostility, become depressed and hang out with new friends, says the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Other signs are neglecting their appearance and hygiene and having run-ins with law enforcement.

According to American Addiction Centers, symptoms of fentanyl addiction may include poor balance, hallucinations, twitching hands and legs and drowsiness. Similar to other opioid users, people addicted to fentanyl suffer withdrawal symptoms if they suddenly stop. The withdrawal symptoms are muscle pain, body aches, diarrhea, vomiting, cold flashes and severe craving, NIDA says.

American Addiction Centers has advice for parents or spouses who worry a loved one is abusing drugs.

Confrontation is not recommended as the best approach. Family members are advised to lead with compassion and empathy. Experts suggest it isn’t easy to convince an addicted person to enter treatment, but it requires understanding, effective communication and research into the different therapies and programs.

Get professional advice

In an online piece, the Mayo Clinic staff explained how to prepare a carefully planned family intervention, but an evaluation by an addiction professional helps to identify the best treatment options. The choices may be substance abuse counseling, a rehabilitation program or residential treatment.

The Mayo Clinic staff wrote that families should be wary of treatment centers that promise a quick and easy solution.

While a young person is more likely to confide in a trusted professional about their drug use, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has reassurance for families. Based on research, family support is important for helping a person gripped by substance use disorder.

Stanislaus County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services has information on substance use disorder services.

SAMHSA has a National Helpline, at 800-662-4357, for obtaining referrals to treatment services and support groups in your area.

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