The future looks bright! While substance abuse of course remains an issue, trends are down and prevention actions are up.
Use and Trends
This year’s Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey of drug use and attitudes among American 8th, 10th, and 12th graders is encouraging, with past-year use of illicit drugs other than marijuana continuing to decline to the lowest level in the history of the survey in all three grades—5.4 percent among 8th graders, 9.8 percent among 10th graders, and 14.3 percent among 12th graders. This is down from peak rates of 12.6 percent for 8th graders in 1995, and 18.4 percent for 10th graders in 1996, and 21.6 percent for 12th graders in 2001.
Ventura County Youth Treatment Center
Escalating concerns about teens using heroin, prescription opioids, meth and alcohol mean a residential treatment center for youths will be built outside Camarillo, becoming the only such facility in Ventura County though other programs are on the way.
Construction on a treatment center for at least 16 patients will begin this month or early January, said officials of the nonprofit Casa Pacifica Centers for Children & Families. The facility should be completed late in 2017.
In addition to the Casa Pacifica project, leaders of Ventura County Behavioral Health and Ventura County Probation Agency are each using newly available money to develop inpatient drug and alcohol programs that would be run by partner organizations.
Officials of the juvenile justice agency say their $500,000-a-year substance abuse and mental health residential programs for youths serving probation will be funded through a state grant. A county group will meet this week to review proposals made by outside organizations. The goal is to launch programs that could be operating within months.
“The need is great,” said Sandy Carrillo, juvenile field services manager for the probation agency, noting that for many years methamphetamine caused the biggest problems in the juvenile justice program. “But heroin has become a popular drug.”
Statistics from the Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office showed overdose deaths involving heroin rose to 33 deaths last year, compared to 23 in 2014. State data shows the rate of overdoses from heroin, prescription painkillers and other opioids has consistently been higher in Ventura County than across California.
The rate of abuse for prescription pills and alcohol actually declined, according to the survey.
“Alcohol is the biggest,” said Steve Elson, assessing the substance abuse problems of some of the foster children cared for at the 24-acre Casa Pacifica campus. The nonprofit provides psychological treatment, therapeutic services and crisis care.
Elson, Casa Pacifica’s CEO, said the centerpiece of the organization’s planned $16.6 million expansion is a two-cottage treatment center with eight rooms in each cottage. It’s likely the facility will be available to people in the community as well as kids already in Casa Pacifica’s programs.
“I would guess that with something like 90 percent,” he said of Casa Pacifica’s clients, “there is substance abuse with the kid or the family or both.”
Action Family Counseling Drug and Alcohol Treatment Center once operated a six-bed residential treatment center for youth in Santa Paula. Several years ago, the program expanded and relocated to an 18-bed facility in Santa Clarita.