AUSTIN, Texas — According to the Travis County Plan for Substance Use Disorders, there are more than 85,000 youth and adults who abuse alcohol or illicit drugs every year in the county.


• Offer a 24-hour walk-in center 
• Provide assessment and peer support care navigation
• Provide transitional recovery housing vouchers 

Almost half of the patients involved in drugs or alcohol abuse require recovery support, but local infrastructures and investments are insufficient to address the high need, according to the report. Local advocates say when people in crises seek treatment, they are often forced to wait before receiving care. 

“We’re readily able to arrest people and incarcerate them, but we can’t seem to find people help when they’re looking for help,”Doug Smith, senior policy analyst for the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition said. 

The coalition, along with the Austin Harm Reduction Coalition and Grassroots Leadership, want to open a 24-hour walk-in center for people living with substance use disorders. The idea is that no one is turned away and people receive services that same day. 

“It would fill in a number of the gaps and would provide a safe space for people to get help when they need it in the moment. We’re putting a lot of money into our jails and our law enforcement response to public health issue like substance use. The walk-in center would create a real shift in the way we’re talking and addressing these issues. It would be community-based, completely outside of the criminal justice system,” said Cate Graziani.

Components of the program: 

• 24-hour walk-in center with recovery coaches and public health providers on staff
• Recovery coaches
• Assessment and peer support care navigation
• Same day induction and linkage to medication assisted treatment (MAT)
• Wound care, dental care and Hepatitis C treatment
• Transportation to treatment and employment services
• Transitional recovery housing vouchers  

Organizers said there would also be health care providers and peer recovery coaches.  

“Community-based treatment really lifts up the peer support model, so that folks are able to get with other people who’ve gone through a similar thing. We know that that is key, those relationships are key, keeping someone healthy and on their path to recovery,” Graziani said. 

The groups said they are working to secure funding through grant programs like the Texas Targeted Opioid Response Initiative. Last week, they asked Travis County for funding, but commissioners voted​ to instead provide $125,000 of funding to supplement an existing treatment option with Integral Care.