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Last updated 11:14AM ET
August 14, 2018
KSUT Regional
KSUT Regional
San Juan County Launches New Meth Program
San Juan County's new meth treatment program shares space with its successful DWI program. (Joan Zwisler)
(ksut) - HOST LEAD: San Juan County New Mexico's DWI program is about twice as effective as any treatment center in the nation when it comes to reducing the number of repeat offenders.

The county is hoping its new METH treatment program will show great results as well.

And as KSUT's Joan Zwisler reports, there are lots of people watching to see if it will.

JOAN: (basketball court)

Clients dressed in scrubs are playing basketball on the minimum-security jail campus of San Juan County's 28-day DWI program.

4230MITCHELL: the guys are in orange the women are in blue

And the nine women in the County's new methamphetamine pilot program wear a dark red color during their 60-day stay.

The two programs are housed - and operate - separately, but they share the secure jail campus.

4326MITCHELL: this is where they live

Robert Mitchell is the Administrator of the Alternative Sentencing Division - the division which oversees the two treatment programs.

2644MITCHELL: We are tied very closely to the state methamphetamine initiative. A lot of the money that has been dedicated to the meth issue is coming to San Juan County.

As a result, a lot of eyes are watching to see how monies are spent and how the program is working, including researchers from the University of New Mexico Center on Alcohol, Substance Abuse, and Addictions.

They're seeking grant funding to thoroughly evaluate the program.

2845MITCHELL: there are a lot of people looking and asking questions and looking at regular reports and wondering what's happening.

There are nine female addicts in the first round of treatment that began November 1st.

Some were sent there by drug or other courts.

Many are mothers of children in protective services.

In some cases, reuniting with their children is contingent upon successful completion of the program.

5454MARTIN: I want to complete this program so that I can get out there and I can show them that I can be that responsible Bobbie, that responsible mom, daughter, sister that I was 10 years ago.

Bobbie Martin has been using methamphetamine for the last decade.

Today, she has 30 days clean.

Martin's two children are now 16 and 18 years old.

5937MARTIN: I remember, way back when my daughter was born, being a mom and a wife and a daughter. And had you told me then that I'd be going through this now I'd have laughed in your face. I'd have said oh heck no, I will never do that , but it grabs a hold of you quick and it don't let go until you're ready to fight.

Martin has not lost custody of her children, but she's motivated to complete the program for them and for another reason.

She saw a close friend die because of meth.

5616MARTIN: I know that he's in heaven and I know that this is what he would want for me and for my children. This is what my children deserve. They deserve to get their mom back and to not have to see me six feet under because he left behind a lot of family and a lot of friends, a lot of people that loved him I've seen a lot and been around a lot and I just hope and pray that I'm getting help and I'm getting better in time for my kids to see that it can be done and they don't get caught up in it.

If Martin, or any of the women wanted to, she could leave the program.

Robert Mitchell said the women are quasi-volunteers.

431MITCHELL: They're adjudicated and sentenced here as offenders. The thing that's hanging over their head is whether or not they get their children back. So it's more of a kind of motivation than it is a sentence in that regard.

Bobbie Martin said being detained has helped her stick with the program.

5025MARTIN: I went to jail for 46 days before. And so that's 46 days without using, but no tools. So when they let me out the doors I mean I was right back in my same environment with the same people and it's nobody's fault but my own, but its easy to slip right back into. So this time I may be being detained, but I'm also getting the tools that I need when I get out to remain clean.

After Martin completes her 60-days at the San Juan County facility, she'll get three months of intensive case management and then at least 9 additional months of outpatient treatment.

3038MITCHELL: We're doing less rehabilitation and more habilitation, because it's a lot of the skills and attitudes and stuff like that that people never learned the first time.

Mitchell said clients need more than 28 days because meth makes it harder to absorb and retain information, although some of that will heal over time.

Having a pilot program is a mixed blessing according to Mitchell.

On one hand it makes the program more flexible.

On the other, it makes it a bit more vulnerable to the blowing over if the political winds change direction.

The plan now, though, is for San Juan County's meth pilot program to grow and eventually include men as well as women.

From KSUT, Four Corners Public Radio, I'm Joan Zwisler.
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