Your County Jail & Substance Abuse
Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
March 31, 2005
You have likely read or heard about the jail population challenge our County has been fighting over the years. No small part of our jail population is afflicted with some form or another of substance abuse. We know that substance abuse and addiction is a costly and preventable disease for which there are effective treatments and available prevention strategies. Substance abuse is also a community problem requiring a comprehensive and coordinated community response.
The San Antonio Area Substance Abuse Task Force has launched a special organization named the Alamo Area Association for the Prevention and Treatment of Addiction (AAAPTA). This is just one but a significant solution to providing this response. Its members include Alpha Home, Inc.; The Patrician Movement; Alcoholic Rehabilitation Center; SA Council on Alcohol & Drug Abuse; Assoc. for Mexican Americans; San Antonio Fighting Back; Center for Health Care Services; San Antonio Metro Health District; Family Service Association of SA; Southwest Mental Health Center; Palmer Drug Abuse Program; and UTHSCSA.
Many areas of Bexar County are negatively impacted by substance abuse and addiction. It is estimated that:
- The total economic impact of substance abuse in Bexar County is $1.7 billion each year in death, health care, preventable injury, social welfare administration and law enforcement (Economic Cost of Alcohol & Drug Abuse in Texas, TCADA 2000);
- 85% of cases before the Children's Court are a result of addicted parents (Panel of Children's Court Experts for Leadership San Antonio, March 2005);
- Half the homeless population suffers from addiction or mental health issues in Bexar County (Mayor's Task Force on Hunger & Homelessness 2005);
- 75% of county jail inmates and state prisoners are involved with alcohol & drugs impacting the criminal district courts and corrections system (HHS System Strategic Plan, FY 2005-2009);
- More than 1,100 people will die this year in substance abuse-related incidents (Substance Abuse Deaths by County, TCADA 2004);
- Metro Health District Director, Dr. Fernando Guerra states substance abuse has reached an epidemic and easily ranks as the community's top health concern (SA Express News Nov, 2004).
To address the problem of substance abuse and the lack of area prevention and treatment resources, AAAPTA has sought Bexar County participation in their strategic plan task force, which includes nonprofit and for-profit substance abuse treatment and prevention providers, social service providers, government stakeholders (city, county, state and federal), business owners, relevant coalitions and associations, the medical community, law enforcement and corrections, school representatives (to include colleges and universities) and youth service providers.
The task force's first step will be to gather action-oriented service providers and other stakeholders together to identify key issues. Subgroups will then create action plans to address each of the identified issues, presenting results to the larger group each month for comments. Once all the identified problem areas are addressed, the subgroup reports will be pooled to create a Master Plan for Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment for Bexar County. This plan will then be used to seek additional resources for the community.
In the business world, no consideration is given to one seeking to begin a business without a business plan. In this case it is logical to get the most economic and effective approach to addressing our local drug problem. Bexar County has resolved to participate in assembling the Master Plan with no commitment to funding. I look forward to keeping you posted as to the progress.