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Among US states, Texas ranked in the top 10 for cocaine use among individuals aged 12-17 in 2009-2010.1 Overall, past-month illicit substance abuse rates for Texans are lower at 7.32 percent than the national average of 8.82 percent.2
Among individuals who sought treatment in Texas in 2011, 20 percent sought help for abuse of heroin.3 In 2014, 15.8 percent of Texas treatment admissions reported methamphetamine as their primary drug of abuse.4 That being said, marijuana remains the most commonly cited drug of abuse in the state.5
Lubbock, in the northwestern region of the state, has been ranked number eight in the top 10 drunkest cities in America.6 Alcohol abuse among youths is of particular concern in Midland, Texas. In a survey of 3,133 students in grades 6-12 in the city, 47 percent had reported drinking alcohol at some point in their lives and 30 percent had drank alcohol in the previous month.7
Accessibility to treatment for substance abuse and addiction isn’t an issue in the northwestern region of Texas. The area houses various treatment facilities combined, broken down across the following cities: Lubbock, Pampa, Midland, Odessa, Abilene, Big Spring, and Amarillo.
Treatment options vary from one facility to the next. Some offer only outpatient care, which extends the ability for clients to maintain more order in their daily lives while still getting the help they need. The majority of all treatment clients in the northwestern Texas region choose outpatient care. Clients in need of more extensive therapy and round-the-clock treatment options should opt for residential care. The same goes for those with co-occurring mental health disorders — a situation that affects 53 percent of people who abuse drugs and 37 percent of those who abuse alcohol.8 In the entire region, treatment for co-occurring disorders can only be found in Lubbock.9
Lubbock, Texas, was home to 243,839 people in 2014.10 With both residential and outpatient treatment available, Lubbock attracts a lot of admissions to area facilities. It is also home to a veteran’s affairs treatment center.11
Around 114,517 people call Odessa, Texas, home.12 Odessa also offers both inpatient and outpatient care.
Only 18,399 people make up the population of the small town Pampa.13 Just one treatment center in the area offers the same outpatient services as those in Lubbock.14
Around 128,037 people were living in Midland in 2014, and many of these people were troubled with substance abuse and addiction issues that were wreaking havoc on their lives.15 There seems to be a stronger tie to the drug cartel within this community; thereby, it may boast more prevalent rates of substance abuse.
Amarillo is notably a more recognizable city in the northwestern region of Texas. Though 197,254 people live within the city’s borders, residential care isn’t readily available.16 In contrast, with 28,472 residents, Big Spring is still considered a fairly small city.17 You wouldn’t know it judging from their treatment options though; they still offer residential treatment to clients.
The population of Abilene reached 120,958 in 2014.18 This is a fairly large population but it only has one local substance abuse treatment facility.19 Many in the area are expected to travel elsewhere to find quality treatment that meets their individual needs.
In 2011, 43,216 people sought treatment in the state of Texas.20 Both inpatient and outpatient treatment provide a wealth of resources to individuals in the region. Anyone who is dependent on drugs or alcohol will benefit from medical detox, but it is essential in cases of addiction to alcohol, benzodiazepines, and opiates.
Medical detox is usually the first step in a treatment regime following intake. The specific detox process and how it is carried out depends on several factors, such as what substance has been abused and for how long. Dependency on higher doses of drugs and alcohol usually warrants additional time in the detox process.
Detox alone is never enough, and Texas treatment facilities recognize this. The primary focus of rehabilitating any addiction is not only to rid the body of the substance it is dependent on, but to also address the reasons that led to the substance abuse in the first place.
Several therapeutic modalities are available at treatment facilities across Northwest Texas, which have been shown to be effective in helping individuals turn their lives around after periods of substance abuse. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one such modality. In a comparison between individuals who received typical treatment services only and those who received them in addition to CBT, 53 percent of the standard treatment group tested positive for drugs at follow-up while only 34 percent of the CBT group did.21
Another promising treatment option is equine-assisted therapy, which allows individuals to build relationships with horses and in turn be responsible for the horses’ care. Many who are affected by mental health issues alongside substance abuse issues are ideal for this modality, and those who suffer from anxiety disorders often stand to benefit greatly from this type of therapy. In a study of the effects of equine-assisted therapy when used to treat veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, 87.1 percent of patients reported feeling a large amount of relief from their symptoms, while the other 12.9 percent reported at least some level of relief.22
The type of treatment individuals receive depends on what their needs are, but many fail to put that requirement first on their list. Instead, they focus on what is available to them. Fortunately, there are options available to meet specific needs. Outpatient care is provided at nearly 10,000 treatment centers in the country.23 Residential treatment is an option at 2,862 facilities.24 Severe cases of addiction may require intensive hospitalized care, which 590 treatment centers make available to their clients.25
Across the nation, there are approximately 22,380 facilities that provide treatment to individuals who have become dependent on drugs or alcohol.26 Only a small fraction of them are equipped to manage cases of co-occurring mental illness — 3,809 to be exact.27
Sadly, those who need both mental health and substance abuse treatment may be even less likely to get help. Around large-8 medium-12 columns of all Americans diagnosed with mental health disorders fail to get help for them.28 Insurance coverage seems even less likely among those affected by mental illness than substance abuse alone. Around 15 percent of people in the United States affected by mental illness report their insurance coverage not meeting their treatment needs, and half of the same population believes such treatments cost too much.29
Mental illness isn’t uncommon to begin with. Around one in five Americans has at least one diagnosable disorder.30 That being said, mental health issues are more common when substance abuse is also a factor. In some cases, substance abuse can actually cause certain disorders, but these generally resolve on their own following detox and treatment. In most instances, mental illness persists and individuals in treatment must not only focus on rehabilitating their addiction, but also on learning how to live with these disorders and refrain from self-medicating them in the future.
As of 2012, the average percentage of the population of Texas suffering from a serious form of mental illness was 3.68 percent.31 Mental health disorders affect a large number of youth in Texas too— over 1.3 million of them each year.32
Rates of mental illness are often condensed among inmate populations, which makes sense given mental illness frequently predisposes sufferers to a greater likelihood of criminal behavior. The Potter County Detention Center notes 10-12 percent of their inmates suffer from a severe form of mental illness.33
Approximately 155 of treatment facilities nationwide are run by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs.4 Thus, for individuals who served in the military and some others — like their dependents — treatment comes at little to no cost to them. This is quite beneficial to the veteran population, as over 1.2 million of veterans do not have health insurance coverage.35 In 2011, an estimated 1,590,364 people living in Texas were military veterans.36 Another 130,425 residents were active duty military members.37
The lack of treatment for mental health disorders in the region predisposes many afflicted individuals to serious health risks, such as suicide. In 2007, 31 people died in Lubbock County as a result of suicide.38
Mental illness is often more common in people who are living in poverty, and in Hispanic and Latino individuals — two demographics that make up much of the northwestern Texas region. As of March 2011, 31.3 percent of Lubbock’s population was Hispanic.39 Likewise, 27.9 percent of them were living in poverty in 2009.40 In 2010, 26 percent of Pampa’s residents were Hispanic or Latino.41 Among the city’s entire population, 15.1 percent were living below the federal poverty level between 2009 and 2013.42 In Midland, 37.6 percent of the population is Hispanic or Latino, and 11.3 percent of all races were living under the poverty level from 2009 to 2013.43
The Hispanic/Latino population is far greater in Odessa than any other city in the northwestern region at 50.6 percent.44 Still, just 15.1 percent of the local population is considered poor.45 Poverty rates in Abilene during the same timeframe reached 19.3 percent, and 24.5 percent of their residents were Hispanic or Latino in 2010.46
Big Spring boasts the second largest Hispanic and Latino population in the region at 43.1 percent, and 16.6 percent of the total area population was living beneath the poverty level in 2010.47 In Amarillo, 28.8 percent of the population was comprised of Hispanic or Latino people in 2010, and 17.4 percent of the entire city’s population were living below the poverty level from 2009 to 2013.48
Of course, troubles paying for necessary addiction treatment don’t just plague military vets. With 45,748,400 people living under the federal poverty level in the country, and 10 percent of them in Texas, it stands to reason that substance abuse treatment isn’t a financial possibility in the eyes of many who need it.49 In fact, during 2013, there were around 22.7 million people who needed treatment, and 20.2 million went without it.50 An annual average of 37.3 percent of these people cited financial or insurance coverage issues as the reason they didn’t get help between 2010 and 2013.51
With Medicaid being accepted at many treatment facilities, the door to care is open for the more than 4 million Texas residents who are on Medicaid.52 Payment assistance plans funded through individual rehab centers and sliding scale payment plans are also in place.
The facilities that offer care to individuals affected by substance abuse in the northwestern region of Texas also offer a great deal of help to those presenting financial need. Sliding scale plans, payment assistance programs, and Medicaid are all payment options among Pampa, Midland, and Amarillo area treatment facilities. The same is true of facilities in Odessa and Big Spring. Amarillo is home to a veteran’s affairs treatment facility.
An August 2015 drug bust in Midland turned up 11 pounds of methamphetamines, 300 grams of coke, and 3 pounds of marijuana.53Another seizure in January 2015 spanned from Midland to Odessa, and involved the confiscation of 1.5 kg each of coke and meth.54
Methamphetamine is a big problem for Abilene, too. Among the local police department’s 207 felony cases in 2013, around 170 involved meth.55 Several arrests of Amarillo residents stemmed from a two-year long investigation that ended in May 2015 when over 37 pounds of meth and nearly 25 pounds of cocaine were seized, along with around $500,000 and18 firearms.56
Seizures of methamphetamine increased by 22 percent, from 93 seizures in 2007 to 113 in 2010 across the entire state.57 In Lubbock County specifically, the local police department seized 800 percent more crystal meth in 2014 than they did in 2013.58 The vast majority of all trafficking-related cases in the region are linked to the Mexican drug cartel.
Penalties for drug crimes range from a few days in jail and fines as high as $2,000 for an initial DUI offense to life sentences for drug crimes related to trafficking substances like methamphetamine and cocaine into the state.59,60 While the number of arrests for driving under the influence has decreased in Lubbock in recent years, the rate of individuals who are repeating their offense is rising. In 2009, 181 of the 1,110 arrests for DUI in the city involved individuals who were on at least their third offense for the charge.61
Unfortunately, many people who abuse drugs and alcohol end up paying the ultimate price for it — their lives. Drug overdose-related deaths occur at a rate of 9.8 per 100,000 deaths in Texas, compared to 13 per 100,000 across the country.62 From 2006 to 2010, an average of 6,514 people died every year in Texas from deaths attributed to alcohol.63
Sometimes deaths occur indirectly from substance abuse, too, as is the case with fatalities stemming from vehicle accidents where alcohol was a contributing factor. In 2013, 1,337 people died this way in Texas, and 1,041 did in 2014.64 The numbers of deaths that occurred from such circumstances in 2014 across the region were:
For those looking for addiction treatment in Northwest Texas, options abound. Any facility that may be of interest should be screened thoroughly for the appropriate credentials. Accreditation through the Commission of the Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities is mandatory. More information on treatment options in Northwest Texas can be found through the North Texas Addiction Counseling and Education, Inc. or the Amarillo Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse.
When people think about northwestern Texas, they probably think about gorgeous flatlands filled with swaying grasses, or they envision canyons made memorable with deposits of iron and copper. People may also think about cattle and boots and country songs. Northwest Texas is a colorful place.
Northwest Texas can also be a place of healing. Healthcare professionals in the area have devoted a significant amount of time, money, and energy into developing a robust network of treatment programs that can help people with addictions, including those addictions complicated by mental illnesses. Options available include: