Substance abuse program for the homeless expands

Published: Apr. 8, 2014 at 3:08 AM CDT
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Amarillo, TX - The City of Amarillo is trying to battle substance abuse within the homeless population by partnering with the Amarillo Recovery from Alcohol and Drugs (ARAD) treatment program.

ARAD is the only organization offering week-long substance abuse treatment to homeless people in Amarillo. ARAD Program Director Roger Yoakum said the program is needed because substance abuse is a growing problem for our homeless population. "For every client that we admit, there are perhaps 8 to 10 clients in the shelters that need this program," explained Yoakum.

City officials said they want to expand the ARAD program so it can help more people. They are doing this through a $150,000 federal grant from the state.

"It will solve a lot of problems in our community," said Mayor Paul Harpole. "It offers help to people who have run into tough times and are trying to get a job but need to conquer their substance or alcohol abuse problems in doing that. Anything we can do to support that is surely needed in our community more than we probably recognize."

The program doesn't just help the homeless. Mayor Harpole said it will also help save taxpayers money. "Think about people that become patients because of drug or alcohol abuse and what that costs our city and what it costs the hospital district. Think about what it costs the penal institutions when someone makes a stupid mistake because of drug or alcohol abuse and commits a crime." He said the ARAD program will help augment those costs by helping the homeless get sober.

The ARAD program started a little over a year ago and Yoakum said it has already seen success. "Almost precisely 2 out of 3 clients who come into the program complete it. Of those 2/3, roughly 50 percent have maintained uninterrupted abstinence. So our success rate it quite high."

With the grant money, the city aims to help 150 homeless clients each year for the next five years.

Madison Alewel - NewsChannel 10