Proven Substance Abuse Programs Making a Difference in Oklahoma
Evidence-based, “best” practices have emerged in substance abuse treatment and are being implemented in the state, providing tools that result in a recovery for many individuals previously considered untreatable; as evidenced by stable living situations, employment, and reduced contact with the criminal justice system.
Coordinated through ODMHSAS, the drug court program couples the power of the court system with the benefits of substance abuse treatment. The drug court’s primary purpose is to redirect certain drug offenders into a highly structured, judicially monitored treatment program rather than sending them to prison. Each participant is evaluated and assisted by a drug court “team” that includes representatives from the judicial, criminal justice, law enforcement and treatment field. No violent offenders are eligible for the program.
There are 45 drug courts serving 71 counties across the state. We know that drug courts work and are currently saving Oklahoma taxpayers millions of dollars.
Drug courts are an effective way to treat substance abuse, and are saving millions of taxpayer dollars. The average cost of drug court for one person is about $5,000 per year, compared with $19,000 or more per year for prison.
True measures of the program’s successes are outcome results. Comparisons were made between graduate characteristics upon their program entry and completion with the following results:
|| Percentage Increase
|Graduates Finding Employment
|Graduates Increasing Income
|Graduates with a High School Diploma
|Graduates Living with their Children
Additionally, re-arrest rates of drug court graduates and standard probationers differ significantly. The re-arrest rate for successful standard probationers is 63% higher than for drug court graduates. Offenders released from the Department of Corrections upon completion of their prison sentence are 4 times more likely to be re-arrested than drug court graduates.
Substance Abuse Treatment for Adolescents, Women and Their Children
Among the most vulnerable and historically under served populations in the past are pregnant women and women with dependent children. This is changing, however, as these women and children are now one of the department’s top priorities. Pregnant women and women with dependent children receive services through the agency’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) contract with the State Department of Human Services. Treatment programs offer comprehensive, gender-specific substance abuse treatment services focusing on a number of areas. Individual and group counseling covers the psychology of addiction, core values, spirituality, relationships, anger management, 12-step recovery groups, family therapy, co-dependency, relapse prevention and parenting skills, as well as a number of other healthy living-related topics.
Toward the end of the four- to six-month program, clients begin working on receiving their high-school equivalency diplomas, if needed, and undergo job testing and interviewing skills. Programs also have comprehensive services for children ranging from infants who are born with drugs or alcohol in their system to toddlers and children up to age 12.
Oklahoma also has become one of a small but growing number of states that has changed from an “offense-driven” DUI system to an “assessment-driven” DUI system. In the past, DUI offenders had to attend either a 10- or 24-hour DUI school, depending on whether the offense was the initial or a subsequent arrest. This type of process is simple and easy to administer, but did not consider the actual condition of the offender. Now, Oklahoma DUI offenders receive a detailed assessment, followed by treatment recommendations assigned from a grid containing five levels of intervention. The levels outlined in the intervention grid are of increasing intensity and designed to match the indicated severity of risk identified for the offender. These changes are intended to better identify the relative risk level of the offender and offer the most appropriate categories and type of intervention.
Problem Gambling Service System
Pathological gambling, an addictive behavior related to obsessive compulsive and impulse control disorder, devastates the lives of an estimated 26,000 adults in Oklahoma. There are an additional 78,000 individuals who have problems with gambling and experience disruptions in their personal lives, family or jobs.
Fifteen to 20 percent of pathological gamblers attempt suicide and 40 percent commit crimes to get gambling money. Divorce, child neglect, domestic violence and loss of home and job impact families and, in turn, our state’s judicial, health and social service systems, creating a public health problem.
Before 2005, no public funds were allocated to prevent and treat pathological and problem gambling. In March, 2005, however, pursuant to the Oklahoma Horse Racing State-Tribal Gaming Act, ODMHSAS began receiving monthly installments, totaling $250,000 annually, to provide treatment and education related to problem gambling. Late in 2006, ODMHSAS will receive its first quarterly installment pursuant to the Oklahoma Education Lottery Act, totaling $500,000 annually. This funding is also targeted to prevention and treatment of problem gambling.
It is the goal of ODMHSAS to develop a statewide network of accessible, effective problem gambling treatment services. However, the funding available is still so limited that this will be challenging.
Both state and national statistics demonstrate that more and more persons needing services have both a mental health and a substance abuse disorder (co-occurring disorder). Approximately half of all clients admitted to a department inpatient psychiatric facility have an alcohol diagnosis or presenting problem in addition to their mental illness.
Providing services to persons with co-occurring disorders presents some unique challenges. First, service providers need to have staff that are appropriately trained and equipped to address both issues. Second, there is a lack of services for persons with co-occurring disorders. The department is aggressively moving forward to address these needs and ensure appropriate care for all clients.