Long-Term Drug Care Program Offers Chance!

Long-Term Drug Care Program Offers Chance!
Posted by FoM on February 07, 1999 at 10:41:30 PT

At Phoenix House, she was "Susan P.," another junkie and drinker whose life had spiraled out of control. Although sad, her story was unremarkable at a residential treatment program that has helped addicts in Orange County for two decades. 
   By 14 she started using methamphetamine, marijuana and alcohol. At 20, she tested positive for drugs and both her children were taken away.   Today, Susan Pizana, 22, has a full-time job, a GED and her two children back at home. On Saturday, she also acquired a piece of paper that is a symbol of how far she has come: a graduation certificate from the two-year Santa Ana treatment program.   Professionals who see drug and alcohol addicts day in and day out say they wish more Orange County residents could have her experience: intensive long-term care.   "We could always use more residential treatment programs," said Judge David C. Velasquez of Orange County drug court. "A 72-hour detox or a 10-day detox is just a detour. You have to have a socially based program to really make a difference."   Pizana--who once left a 30-day program just one week into treatment--said she doesn't believe short-term care would have been enough to turn her life around. To her, graduation is proof of the first thing she has ever pursued and accomplished: getting clean and sober.   "Hereafter," she said, "I'll be accomplishing a lot of things."   Orange County spends $24 million a year for the treatment of alcohol and drug abuse, a problem cited year after year by county residents as one of their biggest concerns. For county residents who can find a space at Phoenix House and other county-subsidized facilities, treatment costs nothing.   But finding an open bed at facilities that provide care over years, rather than days or weeks, can be hard.   "There are never enough beds," said Bill Edelman, deputy director in charge of Orange County alcohol and drug programs.   Edelman said plans to build additional residential treatment facilities in the county have run into opposition by neighbors concerned about having such facilities nearby.   "People in this county are acutely aware alcohol and drug addiction is a problem and believe that it should be treated," he said. "The problem comes when you try to place these facilities. Then they ask: 'Is it going to be next door to where I live?' "   This year, the county has plans to expand treatment services for inmates, a population estimated to have an 85% rate of drug and or alcohol problems. There also are plans to expand services for children in the county who currently have only two options for treatment: Phoenix House, which is one of 40 affiliated nonprofit facilities nationwide, and the Orange-based Touchstones.   Howard Friend, director of Phoenix House in Santa Ana, said people call every day to beg for help.   "What can you do?" he said. "Every addict who needs help needs help right then at that very second."   With 85 places for adults and 50 for children, a night rarely goes by with a bed empty. The 38 men, women and children who graduated Saturday make up the largest class ever at the facility, which is housed in a building that used to serve as juvenile hall.   Two out of three residents of the program who complete at least the first year stay clean and sober, said Friend.   In the second year, the recovering addicts live in their own apartments, work regular jobs, save money and attend once-weekly classes.   At the graduation ceremony Saturday, cold sodas and coffee and sheet cakes were served to an estimated 400 to 500 relatives, friends and supporters of the graduates. Among the spectators were county officials, probation officers and Velasquez. Each graduate who crossed to get a diploma and a tassel hoped they would be among the success stories.   For most, the alternative was hard to even contemplate.   Jacquelyn Husted, 30, was addicted to speed for a decade. When she hit bottom, she had no friends, no way out, no future.   Where would she be today without Phoenix House?   Husted was silent for minutes straight.   Then she said: "It isn't good. I'd either be dead or in jail. I didn't have a place I could go home." 
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Comment #1 posted by vanessa on August 22, 2001 at 12:03:17 PT
my mom
hi my name is vanessa , and i'm looking for help for my mom she is in a long term program it's call a half way house she live there with 16 onther girls . the problem i'm having with this place is that the director is still using drugs and it is very hard for my mom to help her self and say clean with this women high every day. and telling everyone what to do.. the program is very nice but because of this women still using the girls in the whole house is very uncomforable.. no onwe's says anything because there scared they will be thrown out.. 
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