While alcohol consumption per capita has dropped dramatically for Dallasites and other Americans since the postwar era, problematic alcohol use continues to be a serious problem. What’s more, new public health threats such as the misuse of opioids, benzodiazepines, and other prescription medications have emerged in the past few decades.
Thousands of individuals with substance use disorders (SUDs) check in to Dallas rehab centers every year for issues related to compulsive drug use. While the opioid epidemic is undoubtedly grabbing most of the media attention these days, addiction treatment facilities in Dallas also regularly take in those with problems with other illicit drugs as well as individuals with alcohol use disorders (previously known as alcoholism).
In this article, we’ll take a look at the past and present context of substance misuse in North Texas and why Dallasites with SUDs should consider checking into one of the many alcohol and drug abuse treatment centers in Dallas and the surrounding areas.
The Dallas area is no stranger to the problems of drug and alcohol misuse. After all, the economic and social development of the state of Texas has, for most of its history, been linked to vices such as alcohol and narcotics. As far back as the early 19th century, the area was noted for its saloons and its hard-living, hard-drinking population.
Alcohol was not the only drug consumed in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Cannabis and opioids such as laudanum and opium were also openly sold in here as well as in other frontier towns. These drugs were widely-used and prescribed for medicinal purposes but were also widely misused, foreshadowing the current opioid and benzodiazepine epidemics.
As a backlash to the widespread societal problems linked to substance misuse, the population in the areas surrounding Dallas and Fort Worth became one of the strongest supporters of alcohol prohibition in the country. By 1903, North Texas had mostly become “dry”, excepting the major cities of Dallas and Fort Worth.
The influence of the prohibitionists continued to spread from then on. By 1920, the Prohibition movement had gained a major say in Texas politics, and most of the saloons in the state were forced to close. By this time, the state also became one of the first in the country to outlaw cannabis as well, only coming second to California.
While state and federal alcohol prohibition were eventually lifted, many counties surrounding the Dallas–Fort Worth–Arlington metroplex continue to be dry to this day, as a lingering legacy of the era.
While alcohol and cannabis continue to be the most-used drugs in Dallas, other drugs such as methamphetamines and cocaine present a major issue as well. Dallas has felt the repercussions of drug use more than a lot of other states thanks to its role as a narcotics transshipment point from across the Mexican border to drug markets throughout North America.
However, while alcohol, meth, cannabis, and cocaine are associated with a host of different problems, opioids are by far, the biggest substance misuse problem in Dallas today. Rehab facility check-ins for opioid use in Dallas have been in a league of their own when compared to check-ins for other kinds of substance use disorders.
The disproportionate opioid misuse issue in Dallas has been attributed to a deadly combination of factors. While most of the illicit drugs crossing over the border go on to be distributed elsewhere, much of it also goes on to fuel domestic demand, partly to reduce the risk of transporting drugs elsewhere. And as with other parts of the country, the ease of access to prescription medications has also shown itself to be a cause for concern. Fentanyl misuse, in particular, has grown to a major cause for concern due to its high potency, rivaling even that of heroin.
Unfortunately, with each attempt local governments take to make prescription opioids harder to acquire, the use of illicit drugs like heroin grows due to people moving from prescription pills to other opioid highs. Even opioid medications that are normally available by prescription have their own illicit market.
This is an alarming prospect for opioid addiction treatment centers in Dallas and local government officials, as overdoses on fentanyl are now much more common than heroin overdoses ever were. This is because individuals who are used to IVing heroin are switching to fentanyl, knowingly or otherwise, and attempt to take similar doses of fentanyl as they did heroin. For many, this is a mistake they are not afforded the chance to commit again.
After opioids, alcohol misuse is the next biggest substance use issue in Dallas. Today, it’s understood that alcohol, while legal, can be just as deadly as many other controlled substances. Unfortunately, not only is it is by far the most misused drug in Dallas, it is by far one of the worst available drugs when it comes to long-term health effects.
Apart from drunk driving and alcohol poisoning, alcohol also has a synergistic effect with other drugs. Combining alcohol and opioids, benzodiazepines, and other drugs can lead to a much higher risk of death for users, as the interactions can be extremely unpredictable.
Today, withdrawal management, or “detox” as it’s sometimes called, is now understood to be insufficient for the long-term treatment success of substance use disorders. While important, we now know that all drugs that cause compulsive behaviors alter the brain’s reward pathways, causing cravings long after chemical traces of the drug have been expelled from the body.
As the scientific understanding of substance use disorders improves, Dallas drug and alcohol treatment centers have diversified and individualized their approaches. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, counseling, contingent management strategies, and other approaches could be harnessed to more effectively treat individuals with substance use disorders.
If you or someone you know is misusing alcohol, opioids, or other dangerous substances, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a qualified physician. If you’re in Dallas or the surrounding area, we can help you find alcohol and drug treatment centers that will set you on the path to recovery. Call us today at (214) 935-2287 to learn more about your options.