Editor’s note: This is the second in a two-part series on drug addiction in Angelina County.
Angelina County is home to many who suffer from addiction. Fortunately, there are also many outlets available to aid with substance abuse issues.
The Alcohol & Drug Abuse Council, which can help identify the needs of those suffering from addiction, is one such resource locally available.
“We provide outreach screening and assessment services,” said Phyllis Grandgeorge, executive director of ADAC of Deep East Texas. “So if someone has a loved one who has a drug problem, they don’t know exactly what to do, that’s an area we can answer questions and guide and direct them.”
Those in need of services can walk in at ADAC’s office on the corner of Raguet Street and Frank Avenue on Tuesday and Thursday, or call in to make an appointment. ADAC provides direction and answers for those who need to know more about substance abuse. It also provides outpatient services, such as counseling.
“If someone has a problem and they want to stop and go to outpatient treatment, we provide that service with them,” Grandgeorge said. “We can provide a counselor and they can go to outpatient groups, we provide group services.”
Recovery coaches are also a resource ADAC provides.
“That person kind of walks along the individual as they go through their counseling and recovery process ... We work with them to help them maybe get a job, a better job, better skills and the recovery job helps them get involved back in the community,” Grandgeorge said.
ADAC works with anyone who comes to them or is referred who needs help — insurance is not needed.
The Mantooth House is a sober living home that shares the Lufkin campus with ADAC. It is a place for women who have come out of rehab to help stay sober as they continue to recover.
“Our goal is to facilitate the recovery process through a sober living environment,” said Kelley Moore, Mantooth House board member. “We’ve renovated this historic home with that in mind.
“We provide this sober facility for them to continue their journey.”
The Mosaic Center is another valuable resource available to women in the community. It is a Christian women’s education center that offers a free 12-week job and life skills program to women 18 and older.
“Students have described their experience at The Mosaic Center as ‘life-transforming’ and ‘a place to receive healing, confidence, and skills needed to get and keep a job,’” said Jessica Grenier, communications coordinator at The Mosaic Center.
“We work closely with the drug court system and Seasons of Hope to help women active in their recovery process to learn or relearn skills that will help them to be successful, not only in the workplace but also in their personal lives.”
Seasons of Hope also offers education and life experience, along with a secure living environment for participants and equine therapy.
The Christian Men’s Job Corps at the Christian Men’s Fieldhouse is similar to the Mosaic Center in that it provides a Christian environment to help change the lives of men who go through its 12-week program by helping to teach skill such as resumé writing and interviewing techniques, as well as character building, financial literacy and computer skills.
Numerous group therapy programs also are available in Angelina County. Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous groups meet every day in Lufkin, and often meet multiple times in a day. There are also numerous faith-based programs in the county as well; Most Excellent Way and Celebrate Recovery meet at various churches in the county and offer group therapy just as AA and NA do.
Angelina County also has a drug court program, which was established with state District Judge Paul White in 2004.
“I took office in 2001 and realized if I were to stay in office I’ll need some alternative of the revolving door of the penitentiary,” White said.
“The numbers don’t lie, we don’t cure addiction with prison, no matter how long it is. We keep them sober in there I suspect, but it doesn’t get rid of the addiction.”
Currently, Angelina County has two concurrent drug courts running, one with White as the judge and the other headed by state District Judge Bob Inselmann.
Participants in Inselmann’s court come from a Substance Abuse Felony Punishment Facility, a specialized unit for those in need of addiction treatment. White on the other hand gets a wider variety, from 17-year-olds to people who have been to prison and back, those on their first offense and people who keep testing positive for drugs.
“I’ve really been blessed to live in a community that was receptive to alternative ways of dealing with the chronic problem of drugs,” White said. “I think there’s a lesson, when someone is in an addiction all the normal methodologies of dealing with it go out the window. The addictive process is extreme, we all have to get education to overcome it otherwise we enable it.
“I’m truly blessed to be in a community that welcomes solutions other than thinking we can imprison our way out of this problem.”
Drug court in Angelina County is a two-year program through which participants are expected to go to one of the many resources in the county for group therapy and counseling. They receive weekly monitoring from the judge they’re under and must continue to submit to regular drug testing, maintain a job or schooling and keep up to date on their bond payments.
“It’s a weekly meeting with the judge and the team,” said attorney Al Charanza, who serves on Inselmann’s drug court team. “This is in addition to meeting with probation, drug counselors, drug testing. It’s about accountability, which many people have not had before. It helps them with success. Structure is a key word.”
The drug court system has intrusive elements, those who are in the court must make travel requests for out of county trips, let the court do research on anyone who the participant may be interested in dating and let the judge know who the participant regularly spends time with, such as family and friends.
“It’s difficult, because a lot of time they got into drugs from their family,” said Georgia Kimmey, White’s drug court coordinator. “So we have to split up couples, from their parents.”
Failure to follow through on the requirements of drug court and the edicts mandated by the judges can result in sanctions for the participant, including more community service, having their sobriety date extended, writing a report or going to jail for the weekend among others.
“We’ll talk to our new participant and have them talk to other participants on how to be successful,” Inselmann said. “We ask them what they’ve been doing this last week, what they’ve been doing in counseling just to reinforce their program.
“I need to know what they’re doing, what they’ve been thinking. I need to know what their triggers are and make sure they don’t associate with those things are people.”
The ultimate goal of drug court, as with so many of the other programs available in Angelina County, is to help participants give back to the community and become productive and self-sufficient.
“Sobriety is only part of the recovery process,” Inselmann said. “Recovery is when you get back and become a productive member of society.”
Above all else, the first step in battling addiction is recognizing the problem and seeking the help that’s available here in the county, White said.
“Don’t make the truth your enemy,” White said. “If you make the truth your enemy it will destroy you with the addictive process. You’ve got to be truthful about yourself, about others around you, where all this is leading. If you deny the truth of those these things, you’ll end up one of three places. You’ll end up dead, in and out of prison, or what we call skid row — you’re just existing, surviving. Not living.”
“I try to explain to the community, I used to have an idea that addiction is just a choice. I get it that no one that takes that first drink or that first drug will be an addict. But it’s very much like people who smoke cigarettes. They never chose to get lung cancer. When they get lung cancer, they can’t say, ‘well I’ll quit smoking and it’ll go away.’ It doesn’t work that way ... It started with a choice, but I don’t anyone ever chose to be an addict. Once you are, you can’t just wheel your way out of it. You have to have treatment, you have to have sober living.”