Adolescent women face multiple barriers to drug treatment in Texas

AUSTIN (KXAN) – After a year and a half of drug addiction without treatment, Anisa Madero spent her 17th birthday in a rehabilitation facility.

A birthday without cake, presents, and miles from her high school friends, might not be the ideal celebration for most people. Still, Madero is grateful to be able to spend time in residential treatment – even on her birthday.

“I’m not worried about whether I’ll pass my math test or if my clothes will be ironed for school tomorrow?” Madero said. “No, my situation is: Where will I lay my head at night?”

Today, Madero is 20 years old, sober and a community guest expert at an adult drug treatment program. Her time in treatment as a teenager plays an important role in her current sobriety.

“Being in a facility where many women are in the same boat in different waters, it’s heartwarming, because one addict helps another; an alcoholic helps an alcoholic,” she says.

“If I only study about [sobriety] Now, it’s going to be 10 times harder, 10 times at least,” Madero said.

Despite the positive effects residential treatment centers have had on Madero and others, only a small number of women in the state received residential drug treatment as teenagers.

More than 70% of teen drug treatment beds in Texas are assigned to men. Adolescent males in the state have more than double the choice of treatment facilities that a woman of the same age can access.

Although the prevalence of addiction was higher among men in the past, the estimated difference of 260 beds does not reflect the current need for women for adolescent drug treatment in the state.

“It isolates females who want to recover. They don’t have many people to call. Libbey Sanford, program director of University High School, a sober school in Austin, says their network is automatically smaller than the men’s network.

KXAN obtains RTC facility data through the Texas Public Information Act from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. However, some corrections to the data were made after talking to staff at various RTCs during the reporting process.

There are only two all-female juvenile RTC verses about 13 dedicated to the treatment of juvenile males. Dr Hani Talebi, a licensed psychologist with the Meadows Policy Institute, says one big difference in the treatment of men and women with substance abuse problems is length of stay and level of treatment. severity of addiction when women attend residential treatment.

“We know that, typically, women will stay in RTC longer than men, and we know that they will experience more severe symptoms and more acute presentation problems associated with SUDs. substance abuse disorder),” Talebi said.

Madero’s first stay at an RTC lasted six months.

The difficulty girls have in seeking treatment will become apparent once they begin the process of rehab. However, it is difficult to quantify the problems faced by young women with drug addiction — beyond their stay at the RTC — due to a lack of research, Talebi said.

“I think that limits our ability to draw some meaningful conclusions about what we’re seeing out there,” he said.

Long road to recovery

Unlike boys who can get inpatient treatment in Austin, girls struggling with an addiction have to drive nearly three hours to Houston, for any form of inpatient treatment.

“Community is so important to recovery… I just think it gets a lot harder to build that when you have to get out of the city,” Sanford said.

University High School in Austin accepts referrals from residential treatment centers and refers relapsed students to various RTCs.

“A lot of times, women have to move to get residential care,” says Sanford. “It’s harder for parents to get involved, we find success when the whole family is treated and working on their own, and I think that’s even harder with the lack of treatment centers for women.”

Phoenix House, which has an all-male RTC in Austin and a co-editor RTC in Dallas, accepted minors from 70 to 80 different Texas counties just last year.

“The reason why we see that from so many counties is because there are so few boarding beds available to teens with substance use disorders without funding, or Their source of funding is the state fund. Loewen, CEO of Phoenix House.

Introductory Road Block

Unlike adult RTCs, teen programs have very little self-referral. This means that someone must identify the minor who is having a problem and force them to participate in treatment. According to Stacey Burns, Clinical Director at Nexus Recovery in Dallas, referrals for substance use disorders for minors typically come from schools, juvenile justice programs, or women. brother.

The problem with the referral system, says Talebi, is that people often think about addiction.

As online transition schools and courts temporarily closed due to COVID-19, two of the three all-girl minor RTC programs that served upset customers closed. The Selena house, which Madero attended as a teenager, closed in August 2020.

Center resident Selena paints a mural in San Antonio. A resident of the Selena Center admitted that before the treatment, she spray-painted the same wall on which she was painting a mural with her peers.
Center resident Selena paints a mural in San Antonio. A resident of the Selena Center admitted that prior to the treatment, she sprayed graffiti on the very wall she was painting a mural with her peers. (Celebrity Selena courtesy)

“Systems provided to receive, screen, determine diagnostic criteria for inclusion often cater to male presentation,” says Talebi. “Men with sharper public presentations, compared with women, who tend to be more private, internalized have an approach to managing their grief.”

Loewen found referrals for both adolescent boys and girls. He said most of the boys in the Phoenix House facilities are from the Texas Department of Juvenile Justice. It was not clear where the girls were introduced as it was “so different”, he added.

“When boys are doing something, there are quicker consequences to it,” says Loewen. “I think at a time when parents and our community address women’s behaviors, they can go a little further in terms of their usage behaviour.”

Sanford notes that many of her female students are going to alternative high schools after leaving a behavioral health or mental health program, not addiction-focused treatment. Her observations may reflect a larger trend toward seeing female drug use as a cause of an underlying mental health condition.

“We miss out on a lot of things by just saying, “Oh, she has depression,”…“ She is dealing with this problem or dealing with it,” says Talebi. “Some of that is wrapped up in social norms and expectations.”

Madero completed three residential mental health programs that were separate from any counseling during her addiction treatment.

The dual diagnoses of a mental illness and an addiction are common, and treatment for both is important. However, according to Talebi, viewing female addiction as simply a cause of another problem can prolong a young woman’s addiction recovery time.

“Basically, what’s happening is, [females] “By the time they had finally achieved some sort of reassurance, they were much more mentally ill,” Talebi said.

‘Small second chance’

“I think sometimes you have to be removed from the environment you are in to be in good health,” says Sanford.

A popular alternative to inpatient treatment for adolescents are outpatient programs in which adolescents attend treatment during the day but sleep at home.

But those outpatient programs have their downsides. If a teen uses drugs in their bedroom, being sent back to that bedroom immediately after outpatient counseling can lead to rapid relapse, Sanford said.

“There are a lot of triggers that we are not aware of, and I think that if a child can’t be healthy in one (intensive outpatient program), I think they need to stay at a boarding house to get out of the environment. current school. back in,” said Sanford.

For Madero, her ability to receive treatment 24 hours a day and not at home is crucial to her sanity. However, adolescent RTC women continue to have difficulty with referrals, making it less likely that women like Madero seek treatment sooner.

“Some girls, like me, we just need a little second chance, a little push. We didn’t grow up the right way,” Madero said.

Madero was treated at the now closed Selena House in San Antonio. She credits the center for keeping her out of the way and even alive. Today, girls in Central Texas have no local options for treatment.

“The Selena Center has shown me a positive outcome in life,” says Madero. “They showed me how to live instead of just trying to get through the day.”

https://www.kxan.com/investigations/adolescent-females-face-multiple-barriers-to-drug-treatment-in-texas/ Adolescent women face multiple barriers to drug treatment in Texas


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