Getting Back on Track Can Be A Tough Task

Published 11/26 2013 10:15PM

Updated 11/27 2013 06:47PM

A majority of crimes being committed across the country have a direct connection to drug abuse. But a treatment center in Abilene hopes to save lives and limit crime, by changing the habits of its clients.

There are a number of men in Taylor County who are repeat offenders of crime and substance abuse. And while most have been given opportunities to break from their lethal habits, starting anew hasn't been as simple as some would think.

"I didn't have the life skills and i didn't have everything set up for me to take that deal," said John Joseph Dunn, a Taylor County jail inmate.

"I think the biggest change is just change itself," said Debbie Rowland, the director of the Taylor County Substance Abuse Treatment Facility.

While Rowland hasn't directly dealt with Dunn, she has 21-years of experience helping individuals in similiar situations.

"I think the most important thing is how ready they are to change. If they're really ready to change, it's probably not that difficult," explains Rowland. "If they're just kind of ready to change and just considering it, then it's more challenging."

Until 2011-- the facility operated as a restitution center, handling both male and females probationers. It now serves solely nonviolent male offenders with substance abuse issues who are court ordered to go through the rehabilitation center.

"The program itself is 6 months of treatment and a 3 month employment component, so it's 9 months in its entirety," said Rowland.

Over the past few years, more restitution centers have been closed and replaced with rehabilitation centers like the one in Abilene. More state officials are encouraging treatment rather than punishment of offenders with drug abuse problems, while keeping in account that it cost less to send such an individual to a rehab facility than to prison.

While the facility only serves men, Rowland says probationers, whether male or female, who also struggle with addictions, find it hard to get their lives back on track without help.

"Mainly it's just the resources that they take advantage of and how strong of a support system that they have or that they create," said Rowland.

That's where facilities like the rehabilitation center come in.

"No one likes to be removed from their freedom and from the community and locked up essentially, but I think that they can see that it was worth it," said Rowland.

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