Parenting a teenager can be one of the world’s toughest jobs under the best of conditions, but those challenges multiply with a teen struggling with addiction.
The solution seems easy: Just get the teen into rehab. But that solution can be much harder than it looks, especially for teens in the Tyler area.
A Tyler woman who asked to remain anonymous learned just how difficult the situation can be with her 17-year-old son, who is addicted to alcohol.
Her son successfully completed a rehab program in Ft. Worth, but the real problems started when her son attempted to continue his sobriety at home.
“He was in rehab 90 days. When he got out, there was nothing available,” she explained. “The closest place for aftercare was in Forney, which is 73 miles away.”
Her son relapsed three times, in part because of no aftercare program nearby. His struggles included a night in jail.
“I hope that scared him, and I think it did,” she said.
As of the time of this interview, her son had been sober three weeks, but she said she is “cautiously optimistic” about his future.
She said her son also attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings but felt out of place since most of the people in the group are much older.
“He just didn’t make a connection there,” she said.
Her son is currently participating in a virtual Intensive Outpatient Program or IOP.
“He seems to enjoy it,” she said. “He knows he has no other options.”
Stories like this one have a chance of becoming less common due to a group called Breakout.
“Breakout is like AA and NA for teens from 12-17,” said Andy Arnold who founded the group in 2014..
Arnold said Breakout not only deals with addiction but other issues, such as depression.
Currently, Breakout groups meet in Tyler, Eustace, Athens and Poyner. Arnold is hoping to add other cities to the list.
“We’re always looking for leaders. We’re willing to start out a group anywhere. So many kids need this,” Arnold said.
For more information on Breakout, Arnold can be reached at 903-477-1266.
Arnold also works as a counselor at the Sundown Ranch which is a treatment facility for youths ages 12-17. Arnold said the facility usually operates at near capacity with 25 to 30 clients in residential treatment at any given time.
“We usually have one or two spots open. We also are treating about 15 people on an outpatient basis,” he said. Some go from residential treatment to outpatient.”
The Breakout meeting in Tyler is held at the First Christian Church at 4202 S. Broadway. It meets from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. every Friday. Contact numbers are 903-920-6616 and 903-504-2066.
The Eustace group meets at the Eustace Fire Department on 101S Holland St. from 7p.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays. Contact numbers are 903-286-9611 and 903-471-1531.
The Poyner group meets at the First Baptist Church at 15565 Lee St. at 6:30 p.m. on Mondays. The contact number is 903-477-1266.
The Athens group meets at Boogies at 412 N. Prairieville St. from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays.
Cenikor, a treatment facility in Tyle,r has a youth recovery community for young people ages 13-21.
“They teach life skills and work with the family as a whole. It’s an outpatient program, but they can give support,” said Karen Reeves, outreach coordinator for The Haven, an organization with a number of treatment facilities in Texas.
Reeves said schools are becoming much more aware of substance abuse issues.
“Years ago, they just hadn’t addressed it. Children are more able now to ask for help. It’s not like there is an elephant in the room that they can’t talk about,” Reeves said.
Reeves said if an adolescent has addiction issues, efforts to get them into treatment should begin as quickly as possible.
“After they reach 18 years of age, they can’t be forced into rehab. If they are under 18, they can be forced, “ Reeves said. “It might be the hardest thing a parent will ever have to do, but it might save their life. The earlier they can get in, the better.”
A group called Next Step Community Solutions is heavily involved in sending counselors to school campuses as a preventive measure as well as for counseling. Reeves said they cover a 23 county area in East Texas.
Residential treatment and in some cases outpatient treatment can be quite expensive, running into thousands of dollars that many families don’t have, but financial resources are available.
Reeves said the East Texas Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse can help in securing resources for state funded programs. They can be reached at 903-753-7633.
“There is always hope.”
Eddie Davis is a former newspaper reporter, having worked at Henderson, Temple and other locations throughout Texas. Davis earned his bachelor of science in criminal justice from Texas A&M Corpus Christi. He recently retired from his second career as a correctional officer for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
Additionally, he plays the guitar and fiddle and has competed in over 300 fiddle contests since 1981. He won first place in the adult division in the world championships in Crockett in 1995 and won first place in the senior division in the Texas Old Time Fiddlers Association in 2019 and 2020. His other hobbies include fishing, hunting and watching the Houston Astros.
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