Most of the out-of-state clients at a Texas drug and alcohol treatment network for youths come from Oklahoma.
It’s not a large number, said Eddie Underwood, outreach director for the Shoreline Chemical Dependency Treatment Center, but “I see more kids from Oklahoma than I do from New Mexico, Louisiana or Colorado.
“People we’ve put in the program have said they couldn’t find anything in Oklahoma. I’ve had a lot of calls from Oklahoma from people that are looking for placement of a child but don’t have insurance. Oklahoma doesn’t have many state-funded recovery programs for kids.”
Shoreline has a main residential treatment facility in Corpus Christi and four outreach offices in Anson, Fort Worth, Stephenville and San Antonio. It treats 13 to 17-year-olds.
Some of the Oklahoma teens come from places right across state lines, Underwood said, but most come from cities. When possible, Shoreline assists with transportation.
“We’ve got to help them somehow,” he said.
Heath Bechler, chief executive officer of the faith-based King’s Alcohol/Drug Treatment Center in Wichita, Kan., said the situation he sees in the north is similar. He estimates that 95 percent of those treated come from Kansas, while 3 percent travel from Oklahoma. Only 2 percent come from all other states, he said.
King’s Treatment Center treats young people at residential facilities in Wichita, Goddard and Oberlin. While Kansas isn’t necessarily on the cutting edge of teen chemical dependency treatment, there is more inpatient help available there than in Oklahoma, he said.
Distance from home also plays a role in choosing an out-of-state treatment center, they agreed.
“There does seem to be a lot of people who, in their alcoholism and drug addiction, think that if they change their environment or go to a new city, they can get a fresh start. I think the same holds true for treatment,” Bechler said.
Underwood agrees it’s good to get clients awa from the area for a while, but it sometimes does make it hard on the family.
But, he added, “If you’ve got families sending the kids down to fix them, it’s not going to work. The success rate depends on what they’re going back to.
“It’s not just a problem with the kid. It’s a problem with the family.”