How Center for Health Care Services helps locals with substance use disorder

CHCS offers free or low-cost treatment to hundreds of San Antonians in active addiction

BEXAR COUNTY, Texas – Hundreds of locals suffering from substance use disorder are recovering through the Center for Health Care Services (CHCS).

“Second chances sometimes need second chances,” said Armando Sanchez, a peer specialist supervisor at CHCS.

Sanchez works to help people get off drugs. It’s a struggle he understands firsthand since he was in active addiction for 30 years.

“Cocaine — that opened the door to many more things. I [have experience] with just about every drug,” Sanchez said.

Now sober for 10 years, Sanchez admits he’s mostly worried about how the synthetic opioid known as fentanyl is affecting people.

“Fentanyl has become easily accessible. It’s everywhere,” he said.

Sanchez has a point. According to the Texas Dept. of State Health Services and the Drug Enforcement Administration, criminal drug networks are mass-producing counterfeit pills made to look like prescription opioids and killing Texans in the process.

Data from the DSHS shows that 2,160 people died in Texas last year from fentanyl poisoning.

Sanchez and his fellow peer specialist supervisors at CHCS are fighting fentanyl by helping people get off drugs.

CHCS tells KSAT that more than 600 people battling opioid addiction are accessing medication-assisted treatment through its programs. Most are given methadone, while others take suboxone.

“It provides stimulation to the opiate centers of the brain that prevent withdrawal. It presents physiologic withdrawal, psychological cravings and, therefore, helps the person to cease the unhealthy drug use that controls their life,” said Dr. Christopher Healy, medical director of the Opioid Addiction Treatment Services (OATS) program at CHCS.

Dr. Healy said people also get access to other services, such as housing, through the OATS program.

“Other aspects of treatment include things like professional counseling, being accountable by drug screening, and being seen by a medical doctor,” Healy said.

“If you don’t treat the entirety of the person, your chance in reaching sobriety is not going to be nearly as high,” added Healy.

Dr. Healy told KSAT that about half the people getting treatment for opioid addiction at CHCS stay off illegal drugs.

“Don’t give up on the individuals that are out there struggling. Addiction is a very powerful thing. It takes love and compassion to combat addiction,” said Armando Sanchez.

To access information about CHCS and its programs, click here.

For enrollment information at CHCS, visit here.

Click here for KSAT’s Fighting Fentanyl series page

About the Author:

Stephania Jimenez is an anchor on The Nightbeat. She began her journalism career in 2006, after graduating from Syracuse University. She's anchored at NBC Philadelphia, KRIS in Corpus Christi, NBC Connecticut and KTSM in El Paso. Although born and raised in Brooklyn, Stephania considers Texas home. Stephania is bilingual! She speaks Spanish.