The study also found more residential facilities are needed to treat drug abusers and start them on the road back to becoming productive citizens.
The study, “Local Solutions to Regional Issues: A Report from the Methamphetamine Recovery Project,” was prepared for the California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley by the Central California Social Welfare Evaluation, Research and Training Center at California State University, Fresno. It focuses on meth use but doesn’t just quantify the problem, it offers recommendations on what next steps should be taken in the Valley to address the issues of education, prevention, treatment and recovery.
In creating the study, public forums were held throughout the Valley last summer and fall in which 758 people participated. The Meth Recovery Project report highlights community–specific efforts and describes what programs, legislation and policies are needed to support a comprehensive approach to meth addiction and other types of substance abuse.
The forums produced the following priorities for what needs to be done next
- Expand public drug awareness and education activities, particularly early in life.
- Expand the availability of residential treatment, especially for vulnerable and at–risk populations.
- Initiate a system of consistent, comprehensive, publicly funded recovery services.
- Engage and mobilize Valley residents to address the threat of methamphetamine and other forms of substance abuse in their communities.
Meth production, use and abuse has been the scourge of the San Joaquin Valley for many years, going well beyond just affecting the individuals involved with the illegal drug. It’s well known that families are disrupted and whole communities are impacted, despite millions of dollars thrown at the problems it creates. Those dollars primarily fund law enforcement and incarceration.
“You are always talking about the money,” said Cary Martin of Stockton, chairman of the San Joaquin County Mental Health Board who also co–chairs the regional Meth Recovery Project.
“We can’t realistically deal with this at the county level because we can’t get the money down at this level either with state or federal money, but they seem to readily fund the penal system,” Martin said, believing that to be shortsighted.
In San Joaquin County, the Behavioral Health Department operates the Recovery House Program, a 91–bed, 24–hour residential treatment facility next to San Joaquin General Hospital. It’s open to individuals trying to kick an addiction to alcohol or drugs, providing stays from 28 to 90 days and offering individual counseling, group counseling sessions and various independent support groups on site. Residents are given chores to do and there is an active resident council. The program typically houses 65 clients.
Martin is a big believer in providing residential treatment for up to 18 months, removing the individual from the drug environment they are in, “But it’s expensive. That is the best treatment–response modality we have based on the results. But it’s way cheaper than what we are doing now, which is the state penal system.”