Call us today
Dallas, Texas, is home to 1.28 million people, making it one of the top 10 most populous cities in the United States.
The Dallas/Forth Worth metropolitan area is one of the main industrial and commercial centers in the country, and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport is one of the biggest and most trafficked airports in the world. But as drugs and crime have made through the city, thanks to the deep-seated divisions caused by the state’s infamously strong political lines, addiction treatment programs have responded as well.
PBS’s Frontline explains that 50 percent of Dallas’s residents are black or Hispanic, with most of the city’s white population living north of the Trinity River. South Dallas, where “almost all” of the city’s black populace lives, was hit hard by the recession, leaving an unemployment rate almost double that of North Dallas.
City leaders neglected South Dallas, leaving it to become a nest of crime and drugs. Police make up to 10 raids a day, but tightly run crack houses clear of occupants and contents as soon as a signal is given. Despite the efforts of law enforcement, more than 40 percent of the drug raids turn up empty-handed.
According to the Dallas Morning News, gangs –bankrolled by cartel bosses from Mexico — sell drugs openly in the streets, turning low-incoming housing units into offices for their enterprise.
However, the Texas Department of State warns that even northern Dallas suburbs have experienced a “drastic increase” of drug overdoses, seizures, and trafficking. Between 2008 and 2010, there was a 366 percent increase in people voluntarily looking for addiction treatment services in the Dallas area.
Dallas’s drug problem has a human cost. From 1996-1997, the Department of State received reports of at least 15 deaths of adolescents and young adults as a result of heroin overdoses. A report commissioned by the Greater Dallas Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse found that there were almost 50,000 people in the Dallas metropolitan area who are dependent on some form of illicit drug, and need intervention and rehabilitation services. For residential treatment, men average a wait of eight weeks, and women average a wait of four weeks. Because of this, around 45 percent of adults waiting for treatment drop out of their respective programs and return to using drugs. Access to centralized treatment in suburban areas is very limited.
Compounding the issue for Dallas is “the race factor in the War on Drugs,” in the words of the North Dallas Gazette. The Human Rights Watch reported that people of color get arrested for possession three times more than white people, even though more white people consume cocaine than Hispanics or African-Americans (according to a 2011 survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). Furthermore, the Bureau of Justice Statistics says that there were 225,242 inmates in state prisons on drug-related offenses in 2011; of those 225,242, 45 percent were African-American, and only 30 percent were Caucasian.
The writer for the North Dallas Gazette points the finger at “stop and frisk” laws that target minorities and the ease of going after low-level targets (arresting drug dealers and boosting arrest numbers to secure federal funding), rather than targeting the bosses and manufacturers of the drugs (a claim supported by the findings of Human Rights Watch). Public attitudes towards black and white drug users also make a huge difference; white drug offenders, say the Gazette writer, receive compassion, prayer sessions, psychiatric counseling, rehab, and diversionary programs. Black offenders, on the other hand, see mass arrests, prosecutions, and harsh prison sentences.
The relationship between crime, law enforcement, race, and drug use is an unfathomably complicated one, but it sheds light on the work that addiction treatment programs in Dallas have to do. There are more than 30 different drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities throughout the city. Programs operated by the state are normally covered by state healthcare, and offer low-cost (or even no-cost) treatment. Private programs are privately funded and require out-of-pocket payment. The cost for private treatment varies from facility to facility, but it is usually determined by length of stay and the scope of treatment required.
Some locations, like the nonprofit Nexus Recovery Center, are targeted towards disadvantaged women, pregnant women, single mothers, and young women. Nexus touts itself as the only facility in the Dallas area that can provide services for pregnant teenagers.
Similarly, nonprofit Phoenix House Feinberg works with both male and female adolescents (ages 13-17), who have drug addiction and co-occurring mental health struggles. Care at Phoenix House Feinberg covers individual therapy, group therapy, and family counseling. As incentive, residents of Phoenix House can enroll in a credit recovery program sponsored by the Dallas Independent School District.
For adults with co-occurring disorders, Turtle Creek Recovery Center, a nonprofit social service agency, serves the North Texas area with both residential and outpatient programs. Most of Turtle Creek’s clients are unemployed, and 80 percent are homeless when they are admitted.
The Magdalen House offers “non-medical” detoxification for women who are primarily addicted to alcohol. It is a nonprofit organization supported by public and private donations, offering free treatment or low-cost options to women who need either long-term (more than 30 days) or short-term (less than 30 days) services.
Public and private rehabilitative services are bolstered by the presence of drug courts, a system jumpstarted by former Texas governor Rick Perry to more effectively combat the presence and influence of drugs in major Texas cities.
The system has been a resounding success and met with universal acclaim. The Texas Observer reports that Southern Methodist University conducted a study of drug courts in Dallas and found that taxpayers save $9 for every single government dollar that is spent on the courts. Thanks to the efforts of now-retired District Judge John Creuzot, addicts receive personal assessments when they enter a drug court, creating a human connection between them and a system that is specifically designed to help them. Upon entering the program, patients receive a clinical assessment from court psychologists, who assess the range of the drug addiction and determine the type of mental health counseling that would best serve their rehabilitation. The result is a treatment plan that is specifically catered to the needs of the patient, and it can include up to six months of inpatient care at the Hill A. Feinberg Academy in Dallas, which is a satellite of the Judge John C. Creuzot Judicial Treatment Center – named after the judge who the Observer describes as a “[pioneer] in diversion programs and other innovative efforts” in “getting people to stop committing crimes.”
The Observer posits that Dallas’s method of referring patients to a wide array of treatment facilities makes it a “model program.”
The Dallas Morning News specifically mentions Dallas County’s Diversion and Expedited Rehabilitation and Treatment, or DIVERT, program as an example of what an “intense” rehab court provides: one-on-one counseling and education, teaching individuals how they can live with accountability, order, and sobriety once they complete the program.
The program is meant to treat people who are facing their first stint in state jail or a third-degree felony drug charge (being found with less than the required weight of cocaine, heroin, and/or methamphetamine to constitute a first-degree felony charge11). The program not only includes a judge and attorneys, but also case managers and counselors.
In 2012, a Dallas County study compared 93 clients who went through the drug court system, and another 93 who did not participate, although they were eligible to. DIVERT graduates had a recidivism rate of under 10 percent; those who failed the program had a recidivism rate of 27 percent, and the group that did not participate had a total recidivism rate of 29 percent. Dallas County’s study found that DIVERT reduced recidivism rates by 52 percent.
Dallas County’s Diversion and Expedited Rehabilitation and Treatment was a groundbreaking program, one of the first of its kind in the state of Texas. It paved the way for 135 drug courts in Texas, making the Lone Star State one of the leaders in criminal justice reform and progressive addiction treatment.
Dallas is a city that finds itself at a crossroads: shaking off the weight of a recession, dealing with its divisions and inequalities, and fighting back against a rise of gangs and the drugs they bring with them. The addiction treatment programs mentioned above are on the front lines of helping Dallas’s men and women, adolescents and homeless, overcome their battles with substance abuse and mental health disorders.
When it comes to drug and/or alcohol abuse, Dallas does not have a lock on dangers or consequences. These issues happen all across Texas, and all across the country, too. But Dallas does face a number of very serious addiction-related problems. For example, the Dallas Area Drug Prevention Partnership and the Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse report that more than 1,000 people died due to alcohol and 310 people died due to drugs in Dallas County in 2010 alone.
Addiction deaths like this come about due to the significant damage that drugs and alcohol can do to the cells of the brain. Portions of the brain that control behavior and decision-making can die off during long stints of abuse, and portions of the brain that deliver feelings of pleasure can be impaired, too. That results in a person who feels low and sad much of the time, and who may not be able to make better choices when drugs are available.
This situation is serious, but in Dallas, there are a number of excellent treatment programs that can help. These are just a few of them.