Casa Pacifica

Editorial: New hope for young drug abusers

December 12, 2016

sp_drugabuse001A statewide survey two years ago found that about a third of Ventura County ninth-graders had tried alcohol at some point in their lives — a depressing but not surprising number. More shocking was the 6 percent of Ventura County ninth-graders who said they had used heroin, and 13 percent who had abused painkillers, tranquilizers or sedatives.

So we were glad to learn last week that Casa Pacifica Centers for Children & Families is breaking ground this month or next on a new residential treatment center for young people with drug problems. We realize, however, that much more needs to be done to address the shortage of treatment options for young substance abusers in our community.

The nonprofit Casa Pacifica, which has a long and solid track record of helping troubled youth in Ventura County, currently operates a 28-bed residential treatment program for boys and girls ages 11 through 17 (many of them from foster homes) with severe emotional and behavioral problems, including substance abuse. They typically receive nine months to a year of housing, schooling and 24-hour professional care. Casa says more than 85 percent of all the young people it serves meet their treatment goals.

Its new facility, being built as part of an expansion of its existing site near Camarillo, will be the only one of its kind in the county focusing entirely on substance abuse. Casa is replacing 12,000 square feet of temporary structures with 46,000 square feet of permanent facilities. The $16.6 million expansion, funded through private donations, will include two cottages with 16 beds to treat young people abusing drugs or alcohol.

A job training center, new administration building and expanded health care clinic also are planned in the first phase of construction, which should be finished late next year. The second phase will feature a new therapeutic activities center and clinical building.

Partly because of a lack of funding, Ventura County has been without a residential drug treatment center for the youth population at large since one moved out of Santa Paula several years ago, officials say. But now that is changing, thanks to new Medicaid and Medi-Cal spending flexibility.

The Ventura County Behavioral Health Department and Probation Agency are developing new inpatient drug and alcohol efforts, including substance abuse and mental health residential programs for young people on probation. They hope to begin some programs within months.

This continued sense of urgency, coupled with the loosening of state and federal purse strings, is a welcome sight, especially for parents with limited means and options for getting their addicted sons and daughters into a comprehensive treatment program. Hopefully, the day is not too far away when they won’t have to leave our county for residential treatment.

Source: VC Star