Clinic facilities

Recommended follow-up: the clinic treats alcoholism and drug addiction

The Detox and Results Recovery Center is at the end of a medical complex on East Los Ebanos Boulevard in Brownsville, a 24-bed facility that operators say is a part under – used but indispensable to the community.

The facility treats all forms of addiction, from alcohol to prescription opioids, methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin and marijuana. He accepts patients from Corpus Christi to the Rio Grande Valley in Laredo based on hospital and self-referrals.

Clinical Director Rick Ibarra said the sheer fact of Brownsville’s proximity to the border makes the need for such a facility extreme.

“It’s amazing,” Ibarra said Wednesday. “Especially with opioids and benzos. All you have to do is cross the bridge, stick the pills in your body and come back… …it’s just ridiculous how much drugs they can take. I think the more we can make the community aware, the better.

Clinical Director Rick Ibarra outlines the daily schedule for recovering patients in their schedule for Wednesday, July 20, 2022 at the Outcomes Detox and Recovery Center. (Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald)

Still, Outcomes only takes on two to three clients a week, Ibarra said. Indeed, participation in the proposed treatment is strictly voluntary.

Outcomes founder and medical director Dr. Jorge Guevara said the facility takes a holistic approach to treatment.

“We try to give drugs to patients who have suffered from alcohol (or drug) addiction,” he said. “We give counseling, also group therapy, family therapy and we also suggest Alcoholics Anonymous. We recommend that the patient follow the doctor after 30 days of residential treatment, counseling and continue to attend AA meetings.

“Because it is a long-term disease, we have to think of drug addiction and especially alcoholism as a long-term disease like diabetes, heart disease or hypertension. These are the same issues,” he said.

Without drugs to discourage the person from using again, the chance of successfully quitting drugs or alcohol is about 10 percent, Guevara said. With drugs like antabuse, naltrexone or acamprosate, the odds go up to 70% or even 80% or 90%, he says.

Medical Director Dr. Jorge Guevara explains the center’s medical side of its addiction treatment plan for patients Wednesday, July 20, 2022, at the Outcomes Detox and Recovery Center. (Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald)

Outcomes has been operational for four years. He has a complementary clinic on South Padre Island.

Guevara also founded RGV Day and Night Clinic, Medical Associates of Brownsville and SPI Clinic. He also said drug addiction played a role in the mass shootings.

“In many mass shootings, all of them, to my knowledge, have mental health and substance abuse issues,” he said.

Marilena Esparza, a mental health therapist, said the main question she asks is how to recognize when drinking has become a problem.

“But once we recognize (alcoholism or drug addiction) ‘it’s something we never want to test again,'” she said.

Addiction Counselor Carrie Matlage, Clinical Director Rick Ibarra and Mental Health Counselor Marilena Esparza are pictured Wednesday, July 20, 2022 in the group room for patients undergoing the center’s 30-day residential treatment program at Outcomes Detox and Recovery Center. (Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald)

Addiction counselor Carrie Matledge said once a person has come to terms with their addiction, the trick is to “grow as a person. I mean they have to keep doing something positive not to be unhappy with their condition,” she said.

“I usually emphasize that it’s about finding your inner passion,” Esparza said. “It’s about finding something you can replace that you really enjoy to replace that feeling of emptiness.”

Esparza said about 75% of Outcomes clients are there to beat alcoholism, followed by cocaine addiction at No. 2. She said a lot of people turn to alcohol because it’s legal and socially acceptable.

Ibarra said alcohol consumption, socially and otherwise, is pretty much ingrained in Mexican culture.

“Here in the valley, growing up, you are taught to drink and be a man and not ask for help,” he said, adding that he was raised that way. “It’s the norm. (Guys say) ‘I only drink a 12 pack a day. I still go to work the next day. Why ask for help? He’s not an alcoholic, sorry.

“People don’t know because it’s part of the culture, it’s embedded in our system. Everything you do, baptisms, birthdays, quinceañeras, weddings… the drink is included. All of those things are a factor,” he said.

Copies of “Alcoholics Anonymous” sit near chairs in the group room for patients undergoing the center’s recovery program Wednesday, July 20, 2022, at the Outcomes Detox and Recovery Center. (Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald)

Ibarra also said the Valley needs to acknowledge any issues related to alcohol abuse.

“We need to educate lawmakers, politicians that this is their community and they have a problem,” he said. “(Cameron County Sheriff) Eric Garza has been very receptive to us…the justice system has yet to realize that it’s throwing people in jail who don’t deserve to be there, first-time offenders, a second time. It’s a medical problem. It’s not just in our head.