While the opioid crisis holds a high-profile spot in national news, methamphetamines (meth) are highly addictive and continue to be a serious issue across the country and for Sacramento County. Through persistent planning, tenacious understanding and far-reaching collaboration, Sacramento County has delved into the complex issues to tackle the devastating consequences of meth abuse on our friends, family and community.
On November 1, more than 130 gathered at the Sacramento County Methamphetamine Symposium. These participants from community-based organizations, public health, mental health, child welfare, homeless advocates, law enforcement, criminal justice, environmental management, hospital systems and members of the public joined together to better understand meth and the impact it has across these systems. The goals of the symposium were to also promote education, awareness and collaboration, explore funding for treatment, set community priorities and work together on addressing meth use and abuse.
“Drug abuse is a preventable behavior and drug addiction is treatable. Those who abuse or are addicted to meth have complex treatment needs that require concurrent and coordinated efforts to address medical, psychiatric and psychosocial problems,” said Uma Zykofsky, Sacramento County Behavioral Health Director and Alcohol and Drug Administrator. “Recovery does happen with the right interventions and supports.”
The Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services, Alcohol and Drug Services Unit
began working to meet abuse and addiction treatment needs by developing a strategic plan in 2015 with the development of a special workgroup that consisted of more than 20 participants from county departments and organizations. This workgroup identified areas to bridge gaps, determine key points of impact and used data driven practices with the goals of increasing access to care, treatment and service capacity. http://www.dhhs.saccounty.net/BHS/Pages/Alcohol-Drug-Services/Alcohol-and-Drug-Services.aspx
The workgroup and the strategic plan has yielded progress, including:
- 2017/18 fiscal year funding increase for detoxification and residential treatment;
- Additional sober living environments;
- Decreased barriers to enter alcohol and drug treatment services with additional access points, at such locations as Primary Care Center, Guesthouse Homeless Clinic, Probation Department, Sacramento County Main Jail, Juvenile Court, Youth Detention facility, Children’s Receiving Home and Wind Youth Services; and
- Expansion of Family Drug Courts to protect children when parental substance use has been identified with child maltreatment, which involves a multidisciplinary team to provide intensive case management, recovery support, alcohol/drug treatment, drug testing and judicial oversight.
“One of the lessons we learned was that for us to get an effective response to methamphetamine use in our community, we had to leverage all community resources and work together to successfully assist people toward wellness and recovery,” said Lori Miller, Sacramento County Health Program Manager for the Alcohol and Drug Services Unit.
Anyone who uses meth is susceptible to becoming quickly addicted and there is no particular socioeconomic status or cultural background the drug targets. However, what is all too common is the devastating impacts the drug has on those who use it and their children and families. Meth also has tremendous economic and social costs for our community, burdening our public health and social services programs, as well as our law enforcement agencies.
At the November Symposium, several courageous people told their stories of meth abuse and their successful treatment to battle addiction – one of whom was Wes Colter. Wes, raised by an alcoholic father, endured neglect and abuse where he ended up on the streets at age 12. He was then introduced to meth, becoming a daily user and seller at the age of 15 and was in and out of Juvenile Hall, the County Jail, and ultimately was in prison by age 19. Just before turning 29, Wes began Sacramento County services for alcohol and drug treatment, mental health, homeless/transitional housing and self-help, all of which helped him become clean and sober. “I still have battles and I still struggle, but, now I have the help and support to maintain a healthy lifestyle,” said Colter. Wes now has more than 10 years of sobriety, is married, a father and stepfather, member of his church and is working in the field of substance use disorder treatment.
Both Sacramento County Supervisor Serna and Supervisor Kennedy attended the Symposium and shared their deep appreciation for those providing drug and alcohol treatment services and to those who seek treatment for addiction. The Supervisors recognized the remarkable collaborative efforts to address the needs of individuals and the community to prevent drug use and overcome drug addiction. The County will continue to support the workgroup and the strategic plan’s objectives to manage meth use and abuse by supporting prevention and education services, treatment services, collaborative treatment drug courts and explore service capacity expansion and increased access to care to limit the devastation meth causes.