RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The growing problem of substance abuse is being tackled head on by a Rio Grande Valley hospital program. 

A rising threat to the community is the addiction to alcohol and drug abuse in South Texas as it affects millions statewide and thousands more in the Valley.

The new program allows patients to admit themselves into the chemical dependency unit. Once admitted they will have specialized counselors to assist with any addiction issues.  

“People are going through mental health [issues]. People are going through problems at home. People are in great need of some type of substance abuse program,” Mission Police Chief Cesar Torres said. 

Torres says the need for a dependency unit has grown substantially, with the number of cases of substance abuse and fentanyl on the rise.   

“We’re seeing more cases that deal with younger people, kids 10, 11, 12-year-olds. And so this is very important that we can help them at the early age,” Torres said. 

Jessica Becker, C.E.O. for South Texas Health System- says some patients needing treatment would have to travel outside the Valley.

Now they patients can get help locally.

“This is to give them something in their own community that we can treat them and then when we send them back to the community to have that support that that they’ve always had.” Becker said. 

One of their treatments is a detox for individuals needing help breaking away from dangerous habits, giving them a room to stay in for 48 hours under professional supervision.  

The unit currently has ten beds, but Becker says more have been requested.  

“By the end of this month, we’re going to be applying for an additional 10 beds. So we’ll be going up to 20 beds after that approval through the licensure happens. So we have 20 beds. So we’ll keep bringing them in and we have other spaces that we can kind of accommodate as well.” Becker said. 

Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez attended the ribbon cutting for today’s event and says this unit is one way to combat the growing problem of substance abuse in the Valley.  

“We need to figure out a way how to stop in or at least slower and slower down a facility like this with experts that know how to serve people like this is gonna be extremely important,” Cortez said. 

Becker says patients can admit themselves if they are 18-years-old with health insurance.

At the moment, they are not accepting out-of-pocket pay for admission into the unit.