Substance Abuse Programs Skyrocket in West Texas

By: Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

As the oil field businesses slows down, more people are looking for new work, but it seems the stress is getting to them. 

The Palmer Drug Abuse Program says many are turning to drugs and alcohol. 

And their rehab classes are full, trying to help workers to cope with the stress of it all.

"Drilling rigs have been pulled off and we're seeing a lot more people being layed off," Workforce Solutions CEO Willie Taylor, said.

Workforce Solutions says their Odessa office sees about 200 people filing for unemployment each day, and 150 walk through the Midland office, but all too many workers are coming in with a big problem.

"Before we even started seeing layoffs, employers all over the Permian Basin were having trouble saying, 'We can't find people to pass the drug test. They can't pass the drug test,' Taylor said. "So you can imagine now, with the pressure on people being laid off, yeah, they would turn to drug and alcohol."

The number of workers in local rehab classes has jumped substantially in just the past few months with folks who couldn't pass a company drug test.

"Usually they're pretty mad," Bruce Cooper with the  Palmer Drug Abuse Program said. "They think it's pretty unfair that they were picked out. It's something against them."

Some workers are so angry, Workforce Solutions says they're concerned for their own safety, and are considering hiring security officers.

"We're concerned about the safety of the staff, because people are pretty angry, they're getting laid off," Taylor said.

The Palmer Drug Abuse Program says even though they're busy, they're hoping to make a big difference.

"We just kind of buckle up and do it," Cooper said. "Our program is the kind of program where we don't turn anybody away. You have to be there for them."

The Palmer Drug Abuse program also tells NewsWest 9 most of the West Texans they're helping aren't in class, because they got in trouble with the law. They're coming in on their own. 

The rehabilitation classes are most often made up of workers who realize their need for change, and are looking for someone to help.