Local program picking up slack after teen drug recovery facility shuts down

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Studies and experts agree, New Mexico teens’ drug use is among the highest in the nation.

Albuquerque lost its one-of-a-kind services when an adolescent substance abuse program closed its doors.

Now, another facility is helping pick up the slack.

Behind the doors of a University of New Mexico medical building on Yale, a potentially life-saving program.

“Adolescents seem to be less likely to seek treatment than adults,” Anilla Del Fabbro, MD, UNM School of Medicine said.

It is boosting its efforts to help local teens get off drugs.

STAR stands for Substance Treatment for Adolescent in Recovery.

“Mostly outpatient and has been for a while, there has been a lot of work done by us to augment and make that program stronger,” Del Fabbro said.

Now it’s getting the word out about its inpatient adolescent detox services.

“There has been a lot of talk about increasing actual medical detox in our inpatient units,” Del Fabbro said.

It was there already. “However, now we are telling people that we’re willing to see adolescents,” she said.

This, after long-term recovery center, Turquoise Lodge, suddenly closed its 30-day inpatient teen program last summer.

It had 20 beds reserved for teens for nearly three years now, they’re open to adults.

The state says the program was underutilized.

“Obviously we need detox but we need extended stay inpatient,” Jeffrey Holland, Clinical Therapist said.

While UNM says it doesn’t fill that gap, it is working to increase cooperation between their inpatient detox and the STAR aftercare services.

“Once they’ve done their medical detox on inpatient, they’ll be seen by our STAR program probably within the day or the next day so they’ll be what we call a warm hand off,” Del Fabbro said.

Experts agree it’s important.

“I think it increases their chance of success… it’s what we do after that, that’s really going to determine the level of success that we achieve long term,” Holland said.

Experts say because teens are less likely to seek treatment than adults, it makes this process more difficult.

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