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New Mexico’s Epidemic Drug Problem

Posted by Manager in addiction recovery new mexico, alcohol treatment albuquerque, alcohol treatment santa fe, drug rehab new mexico, drug treatment albuquerque, drug treatment santa fe, inpatient alcohol treatment new mexico, inpatient drug treatment new mexico, Treatment Programs | 0 comments


New Mexico’s Drug Abuse Statistics are Among the Highest in the Nation

When compared with other states across the nation, New Mexico’s drug abuse and mortality statistics are among the highest in the nation. According to a survey conducted across all states in the nation, New Mexico teens reported the second highest rates of cocaine and ecstasy abuse. We were the fifth highest in methamphetamine, and the eighth highest for heroin abuse, and the second highest for regular marijuana use. The survey was conducted on high school students.  

Escalation of Drug Use

new mexico drug use pictureRates of drug abuse across the nation have escalated in recent recent years, but New Mexico seems to be particularly susceptible to readily available drugs; a fact which appears to surprise no one. New Mexico has traditionally had a drug problem, and leads the nation in alcohol related deaths, and is the second worst state in the nation for drug related deaths. In fact, 8 of the 10 leading causes of death in New Mexico are related to illegal and prescription drugs, alcohol, or tobacco. If you’re wondering why that is then you’re probably asking the wrong question. It’s fairly apparent to most that New Mexico’s streets are being flooded with illegal drugs. On top of that, there aren’t enough treatment options for those languishing in the thrall of addiction, especially in rural areas. Part of the problem is that New Mexico has somewhat of a cultural that normalize drug abuse, and the problem of drug abuse is a generational problem, with young kids first experiences with drugs being the ones they see at home.  

Learned Behaviors

For those that see drug abuse normalized in the home, the likelihood that they will go on to have substance abuse issues later in life is greatly increased, but the issue isn’t merely illicit drugs. New Mexicans also have a serious problem with alcohol addiction, scoring highest in the US for alcohol related deaths. While you may be thinking these are mostly car accidents, the majority of New Mexicans who die of alcoholism are actually dying of alcohol poisoning. While you may be inclined to believe these are mostly young kids who haven’t figured out how to hold their liquor, the rates of alcohol related deaths actually increase with age. While you may be inclined to think this is a national problem, the rate of alcohol related injury deaths is nearly double the national average.  

Keep Fighting the Battle

As health service providers who work with addicts from all walks of life, it often feels as though we’re fighting a losing battle. New Mexico’s drug and alcohol abuse statistics have reached the level of an epidemic. These statistics should give us a deep pause and be the cause of some hard introspection. Each tick on the stat sheet represents a life that has been destroyed by addiction, and countless other lives that have been robbed of a person that once they loved. We have to look at these statistics for what they are; a stark reminder that we’re currently failing as a community to help those in need. However, there are many treatment facilities and fantastic people who are truly committed to fighting this fight. There is always hope! As families and as a community, we need to provide direction, support and help where it is needed. Treatment centers like Viewpoint Rehabilitation Center is also a great option when you need that help and support. We won't give up.

Understanding Addiction

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Understanding Addiction: What Family Members Need to Know

Addiction, simply defined, involves three criteria that medical professionals use for diagnostic reasons. Those are craving for substance or a behavior, an inability to set reasonable limitations, and continued use or action, despite negative consequences. Now, what a lot of folks don’t realize is that addiction goes far beyond substance abuse. Behaviors too can be addictive. For instance, one modern addiction that individuals cope with is video game addiction. Of course, many adults and kids play and enjoy video games all the time, and they do so without it interfering with their life or ending up with negative consequences for it. So how do health professionals make the diagnosis of addiction in something as seemingly innocuous as video games? It’s by assigning those three criteria to the behavior.  

Components of Addiction

understanding addction pictureIt helps for us to get a sense of how simple behaviors like playing video games can be addictive, when discussing broader issues of addiction. The reason for this is that addiction has both psychological and physiological components. For an individual who is playing video games in an addictive manner, the behavior begins to interfere with their day-to-day lives. Their personal hygiene may lapse. Their social relationships may become impacted. Their ability to hold a job may be at risk. In all instances, it impacts their lives in negative ways that they recognize as detrimental, and yet are powerless to stop. Many times family members react to these sorts of behaviors as if they are a moral weakness on the part of the addict. Whatever logic such a sentiment has, its impact in curtailing the behavior will be unsuccessful. Addicts have a tendency to be ashamed of their behavior already. While it is common sense to emphasize the role of personal choice in the matter, the more we learn about neuropsychology, the more we realize that intervention is a key to the successful recovery of the addict, and this is more true of those with substance abuse issues.  

Addiction and Substance Abuse

Substance abuse issues generally require more than just support groups and positive reinforcement to overcome. When you look at the very serious impact of video game addiction on young adults and teens, you can see the psychological impact of addictive disorder. When you compound that with chemically addictive substances, while many of the neuropsychological insights remain valid, the chemical addiction must be addressed first. The danger here is that we treat the chemical addiction without creating the support structure necessary to fight the psychological addiction, which will remain long after the physical dependency has been managed.  

You Need to Know

What’s important to recognize is that many successful, intelligent, and capable people struggle with addiction. They struggle with drug and alcohol addiction, gambling addiction, video game addiction, and even sex addiction. For those that haven’t struggled with addiction and been able to manage their leisure time without it overtaking their lives, it’s very difficult to empathize with what addicts are dealing with. Imagine someone nagging you throughout the day to take that drink or place that bet. It’s important that we restrain ourselves from being overly judgmental. Support is about encouragement, not punishment, and overcoming the psychological aspects of addiction, is often more difficult than managing the physiological dependency.  

If you, a loved one, or a friend is having substance abuse problems, or you would like more information about these topics, call us 877-723-1243. Viewpoint Rehabilitation Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico can provide the help you need to get your life back.

Rat Park Experiment

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The Rat Park Experiment:

A Study in the Role Community Plays in Helping Addicts The Rat Park Study, which was published in 1981 by Bruce Alexander is the stuff of viral Facebook posts and excitement for a number of very good political and ideological reasons. The answers it gives us aren’t as significant as the questions it raises, and is so often true in treatment, complex realities cannot be easily controlled for in an experimental environment.  

The background of the Rat Park Experiment

overcoming addiction the rat park experiment pictureFor those that are unfamiliar, involves a number of rats being caged alone, some being caged separately, and others being together in a fantastic rat heaven where there was stuff to play with, enough food for everyone, playmates, sex, and a lot of good stimuli. Each of the rats housed in separate cages were given to water bottles, one of which was filled with morphine, and the other with water. The experiment seemed to indicate that the rats housed in the least favorable conditions chose the morphine the most often. In this case, the rats caged alone. The rats caged together took less morphine, and the rat park rats took the least amount of morphine. The conclusion that Alexander and others have drawn from this is that addiction is (at least partially) a response to environmental stressors. The problem with this line of reasoning is obvious. No human being on earth lives in anything remotely similar to a Rat Park. Environmental stressors abound. Marriages get shaky, jobs become stressful, grades slip, and whatnot. None of this seems to accurately predict on an individual basis, whether a specific person will become an addict or not. So ascribing the root cause of addiction to environmental stressors is not scientifically rigorous to say the least, and dangerous at most because it takes the locus of our control outside of our own hands.  

What We Can Learn

Nonetheless, there is much that can be learned from this experiment. Those that are recovering from addiction do need to cut down on the amount of stressors in their lives. Using does become a way of managing stress, and stress is a natural part of being alive. Even under ideal conditions there is no way of avoiding it. But giving folks that are recovering from addiction the support they need, and a community that is counting on them to stay clean, and helping one another through the process is still a vital part of maintaining sobriety. While the Rat Park Meme may be a dangerous oversimplification, addiction counselors have to be mindful of adding stress to a situation that is already stressful, painful, difficult, and heartbreaking for both the individual seeking treatment, and for their family. And one of the key ways to we manage these stressors, is by learning more effective ways of dealing with them.

We Can Overcome

In a perfect world, free of any stress at all, it may be possible to say there would be no or less addiction, but even that is unlikely. More and more evidence seems to indicate both a genetic component, and an environmental component to addiction disorders, and knowing why the addiction happens is not necessarily an effective means of treating it. Even when we tell folks it’s not entirely their fault for having an addiction disorder, it is on the other hand, always within their power to overcome it.  

If you, a loved one, or a friend is having substance abuse problems and want to get help, call us 877-723-1243. Viewpoint Rehabilitation Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico can provide the help you need to get your life back.

Different Forms of Addiction

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Psychological vs. Physical: Different Forms of Addiction

If you’ve ever scoured the internet looking up information on marijuana, you’ve likely seen several contradicting viewpoints on whether or not the drug is addictive. Those who swear the drug is not addictive compare it to drugs like heroin and nicotine that have a physiological withdrawal syndrome, while those that swear it isn’t addictive leave out that role that psychological dependence plays in making even innocuous behaviors addictive. Somewhere in the middle of this lies the painful truth that just about anything can become addictive when considered in the right light, and that includes marijuana, alcohol, eating, and sex, alongside drugs such as heroin and cocaine. What separates marijuana and eating from heroin and nicotine is the type of addiction that’s being treated.  

Psychological Dependence

psychological addiction pictureIn the case of some drugs or behaviors, the key factors that create the compulsion are psychological and understood more broadly in terms of psychological dependence. Far from being innocuous, or “all in your head”, psychological addiction is the major pitfall for most of those who come to rehab. Long after the physiological withdrawal symptoms from the drug have been treated and overcome, a lingering sense of dissatisfaction, anxiety, or an inability to experience joy has been left behind. For so many of those who have fallen victim to drug abuse, they make it successfully through kicking the physical addiction, only to find themselves using again, and then having to go through the excruciating experience of withdrawal once more. This is because in many cases the psychological dependence is more difficult to overcome that the physical dependence is, and what few ideologues on either side of the marijuana debate are likely to tell you, is that for most addicts who come into rehab for treatment, they are likely to be battling both kinds of addiction simultaneously. While treatments generally focus on managing the symptoms of physical addiction, the key to making the commitment to sobriety stick is overcoming the psychological addiction. In the process, treatment professionals end up needing to address the psychological reinforcement and conditioning that led to the problem in the first place. For the vast majority of people who come into rehab clinics, the escapist tendency toward drug abuse was a means of temporarily staving off emotional or psychological discomfort. In psychological terms this is known as negative reinforcement. The physical aspect of addiction is identified with positive reinforcement.  


The difference is important, though they both work on the same general psychological mechanism. Positive reinforcement is caused by the drug hijacking and the pleasure and reward centers of the brain. Negative reinforcement is what’s left behind when the drug is taken away, or no longer satisfies the craving to the degree it once did. Negative reinforcement has the power to compel and results in the compulsive nature of addicts. Ideally, the psychological dependence can be managed the same way the physical dependence can be. In practice it’s far less effective. Relapses occur often, which is why having a psychological and social support system there is so pivotal for those directly coming out of rehab. Social supports create a new kind of conditioning that creates a new foundation for reward. While the psychological dependence on reward may never be completely gone it can (and should) be rewired toward more positive and less self-destructive behaviors.  

If you, a loved one, or a friend is having substance abuse problems and want to get help, call us 877-723-1243. Viewpoint Rehabilitation Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico can provide the help you need to get your life back.

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