Survey shows gaps despite drug prevention success

As Mesa County has had success fighting drug abuse in adults, thanks to treatment options locally, youths and mothers with children need better care.

That is one need identified by the community in a community survey conducted by the Mesa County Meth Task Force.

The survey provides a goal for members to address this year, group coordinator Angela Wickersham said during a presentation Saturday.

“When it takes a long time to think of gaps, I think it shows we are accomplishing a lot,” she said after the meeting.

During its three years in operation, the task force has helped forge inroads between law enforcement and human services agencies for study and prevention of methamphetamine abuse. Summit View Treatment Center was developed to address immediate needs of drug users as an alternative to jail.

As local enforcement focuses on nabbing high-level drug dealers, the price of the drug has increased, and its availability has decreased, which Chief Deputy District Attorney Dan Rubinstein said can be viewed as a success.

The price of methamphetamine has increased from $800 to $1,000 an ounce in 2006 to about $2,000 an ounce.

Also, despite Mesa County’s population increase, drug case filings decreased 16 percent from 2007 to 2008, Rubinstein said. The court system, however, has seen a 74 percent increase overall in its number of drug cases between 2003 and 2008, he said.

“We’re cautiously optimistic that what we’re doing is working in Mesa County,” Rubinstein said.

Officials at Summit View, 650 South Ave., report a 78 percent success rate of patients finishing the inpatient treatment program, which accepts about 100 people a year, treatment manager Jason Talley said. 

Inpatient stays, which are available only to men, can run for up to three months. Men and women can enroll in a two-week program or a transitional program that can last up to a year.

Increased communication and collaboration among staff at Grand Junction’s other residential treatment centers at the Salvation Army, 903 Grand Ave., and Colorado West
Mental Health, 436 South Seventh St., might improve treatment for youths and mothers with children.

“Treatment for a child as well as the mother, that’s a pretty daunting challenge for anybody,” Talley said.

This year the task force aims to continue its work with community outreach, education, collaboration with Drug Endangered Children, enforcement efforts and determining the best ways to provide drug cessation treatment to under-served populations.


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