By: Sarah Snyder
It's what they're calling an "epidemic" plaguing women across our state. Drug and alcohol addiction is growing while a shortage of places to help is shrinking. That's the case for one of those centers housing women from all across the state right here in West Texas.
The number of women's drug and alcohol treatment facilities pales in comparison to the amount of centers available for men. Over at Teen Challenge in Midland they just constructed their first women's center in April, but because they're so crowded they're already looking at expanding.
You'd never know it from their big smiles, but the ladies who live together at Teen Challenge all have one common struggle. Drug and alcohol use spiraled out of control, forcing them to find help.
"I picked up seven felony charges," Teen Challenge Resident, Ashley Howe, said. "I was facing 12 years in prison. By the grace of God, I was able to come to Teen Challenge and change my life."
"I started dating a boy that introduced me to cocaine then I started dabbling in drugs," Teen Challenge Resident, Erin Scala, said.
Teen Challenge is a faith-based residential treatment facility offering men and women a new type of hope.
"I enjoy the discipline because it helps keep me on track and stay focused on my future and build a relationship with God," Howe said.
But like the few other live-in treatment centers across the state, the center for women is packed full.
"Hey we have an issue here," Troy Clawson, Executive Director of Teen Challenge, said. "We have an epidemic and these ladies need help just like the men do."
Teen Challenge says ever since they opened their doors in April, the need for women's drug and alcohol rehab programs is growing.
"We're staying full," Clawson said. "Right now, we've got 21 ladies and if we built another facility tomorrow, we'd have another 20 more. It could be that full, that quick."
"Since April we have grown 100%," Shelly Ousley, Director of the Women's Center, said. "We are constantly getting calls."
What makes a residential facility so unique is that it takes women out of their current environment for several months until they can completely get over addiction, something these ladies say is critical to recovery.
"Right now my main thing is to get myself better so I can succeed out there and have a relationship with my girls," Teen Challenge Resident, Jazlyn Martinez, said.
"I've learned how to look to God for help instead of looking around and focusing on other things," Scala said. "I turn to Him for help because He will always be there to help me through the bad times and good times."
Teen Challenge is looking for donations to help build new classrooms and space for the ladies going through treatment. They're also considering adding an outpatient facility just to help out with some of the overwhelming demand.