Gridley is a city in Butte County, California, in the United States with a population of just under 7,000 souls.

The town of Gridley was named after its founder and earliest landowner, George W. Gridley. He was born in the state of New York and later moved with his parents to Galena, Illinois. In 1850 he attempted to drive sheep and cattle across the plains to California. He lost the animals, but arrived safely himself and settled in this area.

As early as 1852, he was prospering in the stock business, and with ten thousand dollars profit, he returned to Illinois. Again he started back to California with a large herd of sheep. This time, six hundred survived. That was enough to give George Gridley his start in the sheep raising business. He married Helen Orcutt in 1846 and the Gridleys had ten children. Mr. Gridley died at the home ranch on 9 March 1881, Mrs. Gridley twenty years later, 1 August 1901. Descendants of the Gridley family are still living in the area today.

With the decline of mining, agriculture became a more stable and attractive business in the 1860s. The Central Pacific Railroad laid tracks from Oregon to Chico in 1865. The railroad completed its path to Gridley in 1870, and that is when the community of Gridley began to form. The principal products from the Gridley area were wool and sheep. Orchards, field crops, and cattle would soon follow.

The first home and store in Gridley were built by L.C. Stone in 1874. Stone served as postmaster, the train depot, and express agent, as well as a merchant. Wells Fargo & Co. opened its office in 1871 and soon other businesses followed suit.

Two large fires, one in 1884 and one in 1891, destroyed much of the original business district. The district rallied and rebuilt around 1900.

Much of the historic downtown district remains. “Silk Stocking Row,” with many well-preserved turn-of-the-century homes on Hazel Street, was so named because during the Depression the only women who could afford silk stockings lived in these large Hazel Street homes.

Today Gridley is a prosperous small town, advertising on their home page:

“Gridley is growing and changing, becoming livelier, more active, and more festive than ever before. You can see it in the historic buildings being restored to their former glory. You can see it in the new storefronts blossoming throughout the area. And you can see it in the partnerships among retailers, developers, the community, and the city.”

Substance Abuse: Threat to the Small Town Dream

Alcohol and drug use rank among the top challenges reportedly facing Butte County. In data from healthindicators.org, the county has 18 percent of people who binge drink. Heavy and regular alcohol consumption is at 19 percent in Butte County, while California’s average is 17 percent and the U.S.A. is only 7 percent.

There are two types of alcohol abuse: those who have anti-social and pleasure-seeking tendencies, and those who are anxiety-ridden people who are able to go without drinking for long periods of time but are unable to control themselves once they start. Binge drinking is another form of alcohol abuse.

The dangers of alcohol abuse include:

Injuries. Drinking too much increases one’s chances of being injured or even killed. Alcohol is a factor, for example, in about 60% of fatal burn injuries, drownings, and homicides; 50% of severe trauma injuries and sexual assaults; and 40% of fatal motor vehicle crashes, suicides, and fatal falls.

Health problems. People who drink heavily have a greater risk of liver disease, heart disease, sleep disorders, depression, stroke, bleeding from the stomach, sexually transmitted infections from unsafe sex, and several types of cancer. They may have problems managing diabetes, high blood pressure, and other conditions.

Birth defects. Drinking during pregnancy can cause brain damage and other serious problems in the baby.

Alcohol use disorders. An alcohol use disorder is a medical condition that doctors can diagnose when a patient’s drinking causes distress or harm.

Beyond these physical and mental health risks, frequent heavy drinking also is linked with personal problems, including losing a driver’s license and having relationship troubles.

Solutions

The goal of treatment for alcoholism is abstinence. Among alcoholics with otherwise good health, social support, and motivation, the likelihood of recovery is good. Approximately 50% to 60% remain abstinent at the end of a year’s treatment and a majority of those stay dry permanently. Those without these advantages tend to relapse within a few years of treatment.

Treatment for alcoholism can begin only when the alcoholic accepts that the problem exists and agrees to stop drinking. Treatment has three stages: (1) detoxification, (2) rehabilitation, and (3) maintenance of sobriety.

For those facing the challenge of overcoming alcoholism, the number of treatment options available provides continuing hope of recovery.

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