COSHANDRA DILLARD, firstname.lastname@example.org
On Tuesday, city of Tyler Planning and Zoning approved a five-year permit for Cenikor, a substance abuse treatment facility.
In the year and a half since its initial one-year permit approval, company officials said the center has impacted many lives.
They’ve had 485 people come through the doors of the small facility, which holds 30 beds, located on West Gentry Parkway. More than 230 patients are native to Smith County. Most have addictions to heroin or methamphetamine, and most are between ages 26 and 30, facility officials said.
Twenty-two beds are used for male and female residential patients, who may stay up to 60 days. Eight beds are dedicated to a detox program, and male and female patients stay up to 10 days.
The adult and adolescent outpatient programs allow clients to participate in a less intensive therapy, spending three hours a night, three times each week at the Tyler Junior College West Campus.
Facility Director Hollis Hill said East Texas was in desperate need of a residential and detox facility after one closed a few years ago in Marshall.
“It was a real shock to this region,” Hill said. “We’re not suffering from not having customers, unfortunately.”
A 2015 report shows more than 70 percent of of Cenikor patients successfully complete short- and long-term programs and remain sober three years post-discharge.
“They get a great set of tools when they go through treatment,” Hill said. “We don’t want to have a revolving door.”
Clinical staff note it may take some clients a few tries before they conquer addiction.
“You just have to have the need or be willing to make a change,” said Lisa Davidson, clinical manager and licensed chemical dependency counselor. “I’ve seen a lot of change.”
SHIFT IN PERCEPTION
Before its approval, there were concerns in the community about having a substance abuse treatment center at its West Gentry Parkway location, Hill said.
Historically, there often is a stigma placed on those struggling with substance abuse.
“Everybody wants help for this population, but not many people are wanting it in their own back yard,” Hill said, noting he also understands community members’ concerns.
The facility was granted a one-year special use permit while city officials examined if there would be an impact to adjacent properties.
In the most recent planning and zoning meeting, principal planner Kyle Kingma said they found no change in the past year or no noticeable negative impacts to the community.
“We’ve shown we can be good neighbors,” Hill said. “They’ve given us an opportunity to prove we’ve been an asset to the community.”
A lot has changed since Hill entered the substance abuse treatment field. In the 1970s, he said, mental health issues were not addressed at the same time patients sought help for substance abuse, although the two are likely to be dual diagnoses.
“They got turned away,” he said. “People bounced back and forth, but you can’t treat one without the other.”
The majority of Cenikor’s support comes from the Texas Department of State Health Services, which includes funding for a co-occurring psychiatric and substance abuse disorders program.
Others pay with insurance, are self-pay, or pay based on a sliding scale.
“No one is ever gong to be turned away because of an inability to pay,” Hill said.
Hill also said in the criminal justice system, some are starting to support more community-based programs instead of sending people with addictions to prison.
“That represents a shift in substance abuse,” he said.
To further reduce stigma, people in recovery are shedding the shame and letting their voices be heard. For example, the upcoming Big Texas Rally for Recovery in Dallas in October unite persons affected by addiction to celebrate their recovery.
“There is redemption,” Ms. Davidson said. “People can live beyond the addiction with recovery.”
Staff writer Faith Harper contributed to this report.