Pubdate: Sat, 13 Jan 2001
Source: Modesto Bee, The (CA)
Copyright: 2001 The Modesto Bee
Author: John Holland
Bookmark: (CA Prop 36)


Lawmakers need to hear about successes in treating Hispanics for drug and 
alcohol abuse, a speaker said Friday.

"If we can continue to show data that it works or the need is there, I 
think we can continue to tap into state funding," said Joe Ynostroza, 
director of technical assistance for the California Hispanic Commission on 
Alcohol and Drug Abuse.

He spoke to about 40 people at a conference held at the DoubleTree Hotel by 
Latino Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services, a new nonprofit group based in Modesto.

Ynostroza said that in 1998, Hispanics made up a little more than a quarter 
of the state's population but 43 percent of its drunken-driving arrests, 36 
percent of its felony drug arrests and 39 percent of its misdemeanor drug 

Hispanics accounted for just 27 percent of the people seeking substance 
abuse treatment in California in the budget year ending last June 30, he said.

In Stanislaus County, 26 percent of the people seeking treatment were 
Hispanic, about equal to the ethnic group's share of the population. 
Methamphetamine was the most common problem, followed by heroin and 
alcohol, said Ynostroza, whose nonprofit commission advises treatment 
programs around California.

He said treatment services provided by Spanish speakers are vital because 
many abusers, when facing so personal a problem, are more comfortable with 
their own language. He and other speakers said a boost is coming from the 
recent voter approval of state Proposition 36, which requires treatment 
rather than imprisonment for most first-time drug users.

"We're seeing that there are a lot of people affected by drugs and alcohol 
in the community," said Fausto Avalos, chairman of Latino Alcohol and Drug 
Abuse Services, "and that's why we're trying to work with our people, so 
they don't have to go to prison or jail and they can get treatment."

The new Modesto program aims to provide prevention services as well as 
residential and outpatient treatment. It also works on access to jobs, 
education, legal help, housing and social services, recognizing that all 
these affect how people deal with alcohol and drugs.

"One thing I think is key is that there is a direct connection between 
alcohol and drug use and domestic violence," said Claudia Soria-Delgado, 
director of youth programs for Valley Catholic Charities in Fresno.

On the bright side, Ynostroza said, Hispanics have a high proportion of 
families with both parents at home, and that support can be an advantage in 

"It's like no matter what, we don't separate -- no matter what," he said.
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MAP posted-by: Jo-D