Chaves County CASA focuses on providing resources to community members with substance use disorder and addiction

Rural Realities: Tackling Mental Health and Substance Use in Chaves County

Residents in rural Chaves County in southeastern New Mexico are facing a crisis – high poverty levels combined with mental health issues and substance use disorder rates which are among the highest in the nation. Service providers there, struggling with a dearth of in-person resources, have turned to CHESS Health to bolster efforts to identify needs and deliver round-the-clock intervention and recovery support to the community. 

“This is one of the poorest states in the nation and, in Chaves County, we are as rural as it gets,” explains Valerie Lopez, chief program officer with the Chaves County CASA, which has by necessity expanded its scope to provide a variety of services aimed at families and youth in the county. Lacking proper resources to cope with the scale of the problem, “the community is just overflowing with addiction,” adds Lopez. “These generations, these cycles, of addiction, are just so hard to break.”  

CASA turned to CHESS Health and its ePrevention and eRecovery solutions. The ePrevention solution offers effective, practical and convenient screening tools, allowing CASA staff to better practice SBIRT (Screening, Brief Intervention, Referral to Treatment) wherever they interact with clients. It means CASA can provide more screenings, even allowing clients to perform self-screening. And that screening process provides CASA staff and clients with guided next steps, rules-based and evidence-based interventions that often includes downloading the Connections app. 

The app, which CASA staff offer freely to clients, provides a community of peer-based support, a social network that allows clients to engage with one another 24/7. “Our community is just so limited in resources,” explains Breann Hudson a family resource practitioner with CASA, “especially for people in recovery.” At those times of crisis, being able to connect with another human is critical.  

Our community is just so limited in resources, especially for people in recovery. At those times of crisis, being able to connect with another human is critical.  

Breann Hudson, Practioner

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