The Meth Epidemic in Bakersfield
Nicknamed the “armpit” of California due to its highly conservative populace as well as out-of-date technology, Bakersfield which is the largest city in Kern County, has an intense methamphetamine (meth) problem, and in 2014, over 50% of felonies in Kern County alone were meth-related, and during that year, there was a 37.2% increase in meth-related juvenile probations.
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Other areas of Kern County including the small towns of Lake Isabella, Bodfish and Wofford Heights, which are all about a 45-minute drive from Bakersfield, are deeply affected by the meth epidemic.
According to a Lake Isabella resident, “There are tweakers on every corner, and it gets worse the closer you get to Bodfish.”
(According to meth lingo, a tweaker is a drug addict, who illegally uses meth and other amphetamines.)
Lake Isabella is a small town, and businesses close early, usually between 6 pm and 10 pm, except for the local Vons, which is open until midnight, seven days a week. Late at night, there are meth addicts loitering around the parking lot at Vons, or in front of the Rite-Aid, which is adjacent to the supermarket. Often these men and women are noticeable by their skeletal faces, agitated behavior, toothlessness and scabby skin, which are all horrible side effects emanating from prolonged meth use.
Besides the fact that meth makes addicts, young and old, look like zombie extras from the TV show, The Walking Dead, many addicts often resort to thievery to support their habit.
On Facebook, there is a closed group known as Kern Valley Thieves and Thefts, which reports daily local crimes in the area. According to the group, it appears that meth addicts are often the guilty culprits of these crimes. On a snowy New Year’s Eve 2016, a group member posted, HA HA! TWEAKERS ON BIKES, LOL!!! Someone responded with, “stealing snow, perhaps?” This comment received quite a few likes, along with laughing and shocked emoticons.
The truth is that methamphetamine addiction is not funny. It’s really very sad and quite scary. Meth is a stimulant, so in essence, it speeds things up in the human body, including the aging process. Users reportedly claim that their attention span has increased tenfold and that they also experience intense euphoria. These symptoms result from meth’s ability to release high levels of dopamine from the brain. Dopamine is the brain’s neurotransmitter that is associated with producing feelings of pleasure and elation.
Besides the improved attention span, and amplified euphoria, the National Institute of Drug Abuse says that short-term meth users are prone to increased heart rate, decreased appetite and hyperthermia.
Long-term meth users are prone to psychosis, memory loss, aggressive behavior, severe dental problems, and major shortages in thinking and motor skills.
And like other drugs, meth addicts develop a tolerance to their drug of choice, so in a short period of time, they need more meth to get the same high that they had when they originally got hooked on the drug.
In the TV series, Breaking Bad, meth addicts are generally pictured as lepers of society. According to a Washington Post article, meth does not just affect the outcasts of society. There is a growing population of female meth addicts, including working mothers who use meth as a strong pick-me-up drug, just so that they can function throughout the day. In Kern County, there are a lot of women, including mothers, who are addicted to meth, mainly because it’s easy to acquire. Not only does meth boost adrenaline, but also the drug is used for weight loss purposes. And many of these moms are in toxic, intimate relationships that often cause them to turn to meth for relief. What happens afterwards is tragic, because their children get deeply affected, and in many instances, are taken away by the Department of Children and Family Services, because the home of a meth addict is a horrifying place for a child.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the best treatment for meth addiction includes evidence-based modalities, along with a strong 12-step approach. And its crucial that meth addicts, who seek help, get into a drug rehab program that provides detox. Withdrawing from meth requires comprehensive care, as symptoms of withdrawal include hallucinations, intense anxiety, paranoia, psychosis and cravings.
At Cycles of Change Recovery Services, we offer comprehensive services including sub-acute detox, inpatient care, aftercare and transitional living (for those who want to reside in a safe and structured environment while they build a foundation in their recovery).
Located in Palmdale, California, our beautiful facilities will provide you with a feeling of home, while our compassionate and professional staff will work with you on your individualized treatment plan. Our clinical, evidence-based practices, along with a strong 12-step program, and comprehensive dual diagnosis support will not only help you get clean, but will delve into the roots of your drug addiction. Let’s look at addiction as weeds that are suffocating a field full of beautiful daffodils. The weeds, including the roots, must be pulled out, to prevent further damage to the daffodils. While the weeds are metaphors for substance addiction and abuse, the roots are a metaphor for co-occurring disorders like depression, anxiety and trauma. Once the weeds, along with their roots, have been permanently removed, the flowers can feel the sunshine again.
The sunshine is a metaphor for recovery.
At Cycles of Change Recovery Services, you are in a safe place, and our team of licensed professionals will work with you, to get to the roots of your chemical dependency. At Cycles of Change Recovery Services, you will have a chance to experience the sunshine of recovery.
We look forward to your call, and to helping you, every step of the way.