Bexar County nonprofit anxiously awaits release of opioid funding for teen programs

Agencies await distribution of opioid lawsuit settlement funds

SAN ANTONIO – Ryan York entered Rise Recovery’s high school, Rise Inspire not knowing if he’d make it another day through his addiction.

“I was using heroin, meth, oxycodone, and a lot of other stuff as well,” he recalls. “The first day I stepped foot in recovery, I was very scared. I was lonely, and I didn’t know that I would survive.”

Two years later, the 17-year-old has a job at the same nonprofit that saved his life and is set to become a peer mentor. It’s been life and family changing for him.

“This is a family program, and with the family program, my parents have gotten heavily involved with the badge recovery, and since then they have gotten into their own recovery,” he said.

This is the kind of free early intervention that Evita Morin CEO of Rise Recovery says our community needs more of to prevent youth from becoming adult addicts.

“I’ve got kids here. The average age of first use is 12. They advance to opioid epidemic, you know, opioid addiction by the time they’re 14, 15 years old. And it’s by that point you’re gambling with their lives to wait until they’re 18 to receive services by some of these other programs,” she said.

Rise Recovery is one of about a dozen agencies in Bexar County waiting for the millions of dollars in the opioids lawsuit settlement to be distributed.

“We continue to wait and teenagers continue to die. And that is not okay,” Morin said.

“With the opioid funding, we would be able to sustain our recovery high school for longer. We would be able to expand our youth programming across more, public school ISDs would be able to continue to provide free, no charge services to the people that we serve,” she said.

But so far there’s no word on when the county plans to announce how the additional funds will be used. In March the county will decide the distribution of other federal funds, which Morin hopes her nonprofit will also be considered for.

“How many people are going to be fatally affected by this epidemic? The longer that we wait? And that’s just that’s inexcusable,” she said.

Commissioners have released more than a million dollars from the opioid settlement, but millions remain. KSAT emailed the commissioner’s court to find out what the hold-up is on the rest of the funds, but we have not heard back.

About the Authors

Patty Santos joined the KSAT 12 News team in July 2017. She has a proven track record of reporting on hard-hitting news that affects the community.

Gavin Nesbitt is a photojournalist and video editor who joined KSAT in September 2021. He has traveled across the great state of Texas to film, conduct interviews and edit many major news stories, including the White Settlement church shooting, Hurricane Hanna, 2020 presidential campaigns, Texas border coverage and the Spurs.

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