STHS opens chemical dependency unit in Edinburg

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The hallway to the South Texas Health System Behavioral chemical dependency unit Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2023, in Edinburg. (Delcia Lopez | [email protected])

EDINBURG — South Texas Health System officials along with community leaders and agencies gathered together at STHS Behavioral on Wednesday morning to celebrate the opening of its chemical dependency unit.

The new facility will primarily focus on providing treatment for alcohol and drug addiction.

Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez was among the attendees of Wednesday’s opening and said the unit represents a sense of hope that treatment for mental health and substance abuse continues to progress in the Rio Grande Valley.

STHS cited National Center for Health Statistics data showing that — from April 2020 to April 2021 — there were 92,000 people who died in the United States from drug overdose.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 40 million Americans in 2020 who were at least 12 and older at the time reported suffering from substance use disorder over the past year.

Jessica Becker, CEO at South Texas Health System Behavioral, said the idea for the unit stemmed from conversations she had with first responders who helped determine the need in the Valley.

Now STHS Behavioral is working with local law enforcement agencies and courts to determine treatment needs for people in the legal system.

Becker explained that the detox department will focus on opioids, benzodiazepines (prescription drugs) and alcohol while the inpatient rehab will focus on any substance patients may be struggling with.

“We are using the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation curriculum … that’s the curriculum we’re using if you’re inpatient,” Becker said, adding that the unit will also focus on providing the necessary support to those who are discharged. “We want to get them set up with a sponsor, NA meetings, AA meetings, we want to make sure that they have some kind of outpatient support.”

The clinic currently has a total of 10 beds; however, Becker hopes to apply for an additional 10 to have a total of 20 beds available in the facility.

The South Texas Health System Behavioral chemical dependency unit Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2023, in Edinburg. (Delcia Lopez | [email protected])

Throughout the day the clinic will be staffed by a licensed dependency counselor, a social worker who is also a licensed chemical dependency counselor, a recreational therapist, nurses and mental health technicians.

“We’ll have staff around the clock, we’ll have programming around the clock … it’ll be just like our other units as well,” Becker said.

STHS Behavioral is also working on contracts to help provide additional resources to patients who attend the clinic.

The new chemical dependency unit can also accept walk-ins. Insurance, however, is required. To inquire about treatment or any services the unit provides, call the referral line at (956) 388-1300. STHS Behavioral is located at 2102 W. Trenton Road in Edinburg.