East Texas Has an Opioid Problem, From Prescription

If you think that the drug abuse trend in the great state of Texas has anything to do with its closeness to the Mexican border, you are right. Texas shares a 1,254-mile border with Mexico, which is a big factor in the state's drug problem, especially with the illegal drug heroin.

According to the National Drug Intelligence Center, Texas Drug Threat Assessment, this border area is widely used by the cartels to smuggle illicit substances to the United States. That’s because most of is open, including state parks and this makes it difficult to constantly be monitored by enforcement agencies.

Large quantities of cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and meth are trafficked to the country through the border. Federal-wide Drug Seizure System (FDSS) research shows that the amount of drugs seized by officers in the state – most confiscated near or at the US-Mexico border – consistently surpasses that of any other region in the United States

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But despite the law enforcement effort, cartels still find creative ways of ferrying the drugs across the border, whether it’s through roads, air, rail, water, or underground tunnels. And while smuggling happens anywhere across the border, commercial smuggling is prevalent in the Gulf of Mexico and the Rio Grande River.

Prescription opioids in East Texas

Illicit substances aren’t the only drug problem in Texas. The seemingly safe prescription medicines are also frequently abused and can cause serious issues, like overdose and death. In 2018, there were 14,975 deaths involving prescription opioids in Texas, according to the National Institute on Drug Use. Although the national prescription opioid-involved death rates decreased by nearly 7% from 2018 to 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal that more than 70% of the 70,630 deaths in 2019 involved opioids.

Prescription drugs produce feelings of calmness and euphoria when taken in large doses. And while they aren’t meant to be taken this way, people may become tolerant over time and begin taking larger doses to feel the effect. This is part of the reason Texas law limits opioid prescriptions for acute pain to 10 days – with no refills allowed. A separate law also mandates physicians to check a state database to track whether patients with moderate to severe pain have already gotten the drugs elsewhere.

The regional needs assessment showed that the lifetime use rates for codeine syrup, Adderall, and benzodiazepines in the south- and northeast Texas were 15.5%, 4.4%, and 4.1%, respectively. Additionally, there were 7 prescriptions per 10 people in northeast Texas compared to 5.2 per 10 people statewide, according to the assessment.

Examples of commonly abused prescription drugs in East Texas include:

Misuse of prescription medicines is widespread, especially among adults and teens. Xanax is particularly prevalent for teens. Houston, which lies in Southeast Texas, near the Gulf of Mexico and Galveston, is a source city for bulk quantities of pain medicines. Most of the supply comes from diverse activities at Houston’s many illegal pill mills, organized pharmacy theft, and prescription fraud.

Counterfeit pill production

The rise of counterfeit pill production makes the prescription drug situation even worse. Fake Xanax and hydrocodone pills containing fentanyl and other synthetic opioids are increasingly being seized. These impure drugs can have severe side effects and lead to overdose and death in worse cases. In fact, reports show that misused opioids accounted for more deaths than any other drugs save for cocaine.

According to the DEA, fentanyl-laced counterfeit pills remain a leading cause of overdose deaths in East Texas and across the country. As cheap, potent fentanyl infiltrates the heroin markets, the drug will augment and supplant white powder heroin in different markets.

Texas is in the top five states for a total number of opioid-related deaths. It also has the second-highest opioid abuse-related health care costs, amounting to over $1.9 billion, according to the City of San Antonio Metropolitan Health District’s overview. Hundreds of people die of overdose every day, and deaths involving schedule II drugs have outpaced those of heroin and cocaine combined since 2002. The crisis has led several East Texas counties, like Upshur, Titus, and Bowie, to hold drug manufacturers like Pfizer Inc., Purdue Pharma, and Johnson & Johnson responsible for the economic burden of opioid addiction.

Opioid addiction

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Opioids such as fentanyl, heroin, and pain medications are highly addictive because they activate powerful reward centers in the brain. These drugs activate opioid receptors on cells situated in many areas of the spinal cord, brain, and other body organs, particularly those involved in feelings of pleasure and pain. When they attach to these receptors, they block pain signals and flood the body with dopamine. This effect can reinforce the act of using the drug, making one want to repeat the experience.

Long-term use of opioids can cause some people to develop tolerance. In this case, they’ll need higher and more frequent doses to achieve the desired effect. But this causes neurons to adapt so that they only work normally when the drug is present. The absence of the drug causes withdrawal symptoms, some of which are life-threatening. At this point, one is likely to rely on the drug to keep these symptoms at bay.

Treating opioid addiction

Chronic pain patients who develop opioid addiction need medical support to quit using the drugs. There are many inpatient and outpatient facilities in Trinity, Newton, Polk, Port Arthur, Tyler, Texas, etc., dedicated to treating people with addiction. Other programs, like the Deep East Texas Opioid Response Program, can also help with addiction care. Many of these programs use medications like buprenorphine or methadone to help individuals get off of opioids. In cases of opioid overdose, patients are given Naltrexone to flush out receptors to reverse the overdose.

Take advantage of the many resources available in the region to ensure you or your loved one is free from opioid addiction. The East Texas Council on Addiction and Drug Abuse is one such resource that acts as the first step for those seeking help. But you can also contact us today to learn how we can help you get off drugs and lead a clean, healthy life.

How Mexican Drug Cartels Affect Texas

According to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration reports, Mexican drug cartels are responsible for the majority of drugs smuggled into the country. The far-reaching influence of these well-organized crime groups that ascertain their dominance through fear and violence continues to be astounding.

While Mexican cartels have major influence across the country, the most affected state has been Texas.

Why is Texas a prime spot for drug trafficking?

Texas has for decades been a hot spot for most Mexican drug cartels as the state shares 1254 miles of border with Mexico. This has been made worse as most of the state, especially the South Texas HIDTA region, primarily consists of thousands of acres of unoccupied land.

The presence of the Gulf of Mexico further escalates the problem as the huge water body enables drug traffickers to use small boats, narco submarines, and pleasure crafts for their illegal trade.

What about the border fence and patrols?

Is it possible to have a United States-Mexico border that covers every inch between these countries?

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Well, that is a question that still demands a lot of research and billions of dollars in investment. Texas has particularly proven to be extremely challenging to fence as it has huge stretches of land that do not have physical barriers.

The flat desert areas and floodplains also present another challenge, making an end-to-end border fence an idea whose implementation depends on many geographical, economic, and legal aspects. However, recently in a bold move, Texas Governor Greg Abbott unveiled border wall plans as a part of his security action to keep Texans and Americans safer.

On a brighter side, part of the border fence built in strategic areas has helped Border Patrol and law enforcement increase surveillance and capture hundreds of cartel members. But, this has not deterred Mexican drug cartels from coming up with new ways of drug trafficking that allow them to move around, under, or through these barriers.

The growing impacts of drug trade on Texas

The Mexican drug cartel has proven to be the mythical hydra that replaces each head cut by two others. In 2014, after the capture of Joaquin Guzman, popularly known as El Chapo, who was a high-ranking leader of the Sinaloa cartel, it was expected that drug activities would sharply decline.

However, it seems that capturing drug lords is not a long-term solution to breaking down the empires worth hundreds of millions of dollars. With access to so much money, it is always a matter of time before new leaders emerge or new groups are formed.

For example, after El Chapo was extradited to the USA and his cartel operations were greatly affected by the arrests of many cartel members; breakaway members formed a new group. This group is the Jalisco New Generation Cartel that has rapidly grown and is currently attributed to more than 30% of the drugs in the United States.

Since Texas is the epicenter of drug trafficking to the USA, it has not been spared from the wrath of this illegal trade. Law enforcement is now paying more attention to the impacts of Mexican cartels operation in Texas as it is a problem that can no longer be ignored.

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The major and pressing problems linked to the influence and operations of Mexican cartels in Texas are:

One of the biggest concerns today is how Mexican drug cartel members use young people, especially teenagers, for drug trafficking. After crossing the Mexican border, these cartels need a way to ensure the passage of drugs discreetly. The perfect bait has been found, and these are young and innocent children who are given an opportunity to make easy money.

It is heartbreaking that teenagers as young as 12 have pleaded guilty to helping cartel members to smuggle drugs, like heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine into the United States. This trend is expected to grow as cartels are now targeting young people using social media, making it harder to control the number of smugglers who could be recruited.

One of the long-term impacts of the drug trade is that it leads to a rise in human and sex trafficking. Texas has not been spared from these illegal activities as Mexican cartels are busy moving people and drugs into the country.

Border communities have been most affected by these activities as they often come face to face with the violent and daring gatekeepers facilitating cross-border smuggling.

There is never a peaceful drug trade as each cartel always aims for supremacy on valuable trade routes and markets. The drug war in Mexico is facilitated by the high number of weapons acquired from the United States and the many local gangs facilitating drug sales.

These local gangs have proven to be quite crafty as they now sell narcotics as prescription drugs or magic mushrooms. Unfortunately, this is a gaping hole that many young people have fallen into, leading to a severe public health pandemic. Yearly, the statistics worsen as more people overdose on these drugs and suffer from a heart attack while countless more become addicts.

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Every month millions of dollars are smuggled back into Mexico as proceeds from the drug trade. In turn, money launderers in Texas and across the nation have become an integral part of cartel operations as they ease money flow. This has become such a big concern as, on the one hand, it hurts the local economy, and on the other hand, it makes Mexican cartels stronger.

On a national level, this has necessitated the attorney general and U.S law enforcement agencies to collaborate with Mexico in the fight against drug cartels. However, despite the massive strides that have been made, especially in the seizure of laundered money and property, Mexican cartels still stick out like a sore thumb.

Stay safe in Texas

The overreaching impacts of the Mexican drug cartels in Texas call for great public awareness on the devastating impacts of drugs. At a personal level, it also mandates great self-control to avoid falling victim to the alluring lifestyle that cartels use to recruit more local members.

Luckily, you are not alone, as More Than Rehab is here to help you avoid becoming entrapped in substance abuse or aiding these cartels in drug smuggling or money laundering. In the end, the easy money and flashy lifestyle that cartels portray is short-lived and will cause more pain than good. If you are in immediate danger or need help, call 911. If you need a safe rehab to get clean, call us.

888-249-2191

How Addiction Affects Family Legal Matters in Texas

For someone who is struggling with an addiction, even the threat of loosing their kids doesn’t make it any easier for them to quit using drugs or alcohol. For some people the threat of losing their kids is what will finally make them decide to get treatment for their addiction. Many Texans have already lost custody and visitation rights for their children and are desperately trying to make things right.

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Exhibiting a willingness to change and complying with the courts orders are your best chances to reunite your family. Texas family laws operate on a belief that parents should share custody. If the state has suspended your custody rights, the important thing will be to comply with any and all court orders. If you have been ordered to go into rehabilitation, comply with that order. Once you finish treatment, you can file a motion to get custody of your kids back. If you fail to comply with court orders however, you may have your parental rights permanently terminated.

Texas courts and family law concerning addiction.

When a court makes the decision based on the child’s welfare, it may take several considerations into account. If they are at least 10 years of age, the child’s preference on custody can help determine the ruling of the court. The family’s history of abuse or neglect, substance abuse history, the ability of each parent to care for the child and the physical and emotional needs of the child can all be taken into account when it comes to legal determinations of parenting responsibilities.

In all of this, the goal of the state of Texas is always to provide the safest environment for the child to be raised in. According to the same statute, Texas courts must always make opportunities for both parents to play a role in the child’s life, whenever possible. If one parent is unfit to care for the child due to endangerment from drug or alcohol abuse, the court may require that parent to undergo treatment at a drug rehabilitation facility before further considerations regarding child custody are made.

What happens when one parent lives in another state?

The Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act regulates interstate custody arrangements. It was designed to provide a uniform jurisdiction and enforcement mechanisms in custody and visitation matters that transcend interstate boundaries. The law was also created in an effort to deter interstate parental kidnapping. This has been an issue as America is a highly mobile society. People move across the United States for their job or family obligations all the time. This law requires state courts to enforce valid child custody and visitation rights made in other states. The UCCJEA guidelines help shape various aspects of Texas state law regarding families.

Conservatorship and the roles of parents defined in Texas state family laws.

The laws of the State of Texas consider child custody “conservatorship”. This definition outlines the rights and responsibilities of parents concerning their child’s welfare and best interests. The responsibilities include decision-making for medical care, education and other matters impacting the child’s life. There are two types of conservatorship in Texas:

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How parental drug or alcohol abuse affects determinations of child custody cases in Texas:

When one, or both parents are using a substance that negatively impacts their ability to adequately care for children, the State of Texas considers this to be a form of “child abuse” or “neglect”. In custody cases, parents have the right to file a motion to have the other parent tested for drug use. However, this accusation cannot come without supporting evidence regarding the claims. The supporting evidence can come from a variety of sources, third party witnesses, the parent’s own criminal records, social welfare agencies or medical records. Courts will typically grant these requests as it is in the best interests of the child to determine the parent’s ability to provide for them.

If you have been actively using drugs and you tested positive on the court-ordered drug test, it is taken very seriously by the courts in Texas. This will likely be a major factor in the court’s decision regarding child custody and visitation rights. Typically, a failed UA will result in the complete loss of custody and visitation rights. Sometimes you may only be allowed supervised visitation rights.  

If a parent has repeated failed drug tests, a court-ordered addiction treatment program may be required to regain your visitation rights. This program may be in conjunction with other forms of counseling and even parenting classes. Keep in mind that a positive drug test doesn’t necessarily mean a complete loss of your parental rights. Exhibiting a willingness to change, with the successful completion of court-ordered classes and treatment programs can go a long way to restoring involvement in your child’s life.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, odds are it is affecting their entire family. Consider the help available from More Than Rehab. We offer an extensive addiction treatment program for all types of drug and alcohol abuse.  We are located just outside of Houston, Texas with locations in Austin and Dallas coming soon. Our phone lines are open 24/7 and we are ready to help.

Call us today:

888-249-2191