HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Anywhere from 60 to 90 days is how long some families in Hays County are waiting to get their children treatment for substance use. One of those families was Kerry Jeffrey’s.

“I don’t want to lose him. It’s a fight every day,” Jeffrey said.

Her 16-year-old son is one of many young people in Hays County battling substance use.

“He was sneaking out and getting drunk and started to be destructive. It’s a little beyond marijuana, and it’s a problem,” Jeffrey said.

She tried to get him help at a treatment center.

Kerry Jeffrey and her 16 year old son
Kerry Jeffrey said it took her nearly three months to find a treatment center for her son.

“There’s just a huge waitlist anywhere you go for help. I felt like there was nothing I could do,” Jeffrey said.

But call after call, she ended up nowhere. Days turned into weeks, and nearly three months passed with no luck.

“It’s the most terrifying waiting game that you can imagine as a parent,” Jeffrey said.

The wait almost cost her son his life. Before she found a place, her son overdosed on fentanyl. Jeffrey said only then did a center open up a spot for him.

More Hays CISD students seek help

It’s something Hays CISD said it has been seeing a lot.

“You can’t wait 60 or 90 days if you have someone who has an addiction and who is reaching out for help,” said District Spokesperson Tim Savoy.

Savoy said more than a dozen students have sought out help to receive treatment after four Hays CISD students died from fentanyl overdoses.

“That’s critical and important time that you don’t have when you’re trying to get somebody off of an addiction, especially one as deadly as fentanyl,” Savoy said.

Facilities see patient increase

One of those facilities slammed with calls is Phoenix House. It offers prevention education, evaluation services and outpatient services for adolescents.

“We serve folks with Medicaid, with private insurance, but also folks that might be financially struggling and can’t meet their deductibles or their copays or whatnot. We’re able to serve everybody,” said Susanna Huffman, residential director at Phoenix House Austin.

Phoenix House said it's had a waitlist for months now.
Phoenix House said it’s had a waitlist for months now.

They’ve had a waitlist for months now and don’t have enough staff to support the demand.

“The waitlist we have right now, it’s looking like it’s gonna be several months before we can get some of these folks in here,” Huffman said.

Even with no space available at the moment, Huffman said they keep in touch with families seeking help until a bed opens up.

“Even if we’re not able to serve them right away, just to say ‘hey, we’re still interested in having your kid come here. How is everything going?’ Even making a referral to some community partner in the meantime to get them taken care of,” Huffman said.

Luckily for Jeffrey, one of those beds will be for her son. He starts treatment on Friday. While the journey here took months, she’s still grateful.

“He’s choosing life… his life. And that’s amazing to me,” Jeffrey said.