Ralph Jones honored for aiding those struggling with addiction - Valley Morning Star : Local News

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Ralph Jones honored for aiding those struggling with addiction

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Posted: Wednesday, September 19, 2018 10:35 pm

HARLINGEN — His journey through life has helped others continue their own journeys.

Now Ralph Jones is being recognized for his work helping people over the years with alcohol and drug abuse problems.

“I’m very humbled with it and I’m still in shock and awe,” said Jones, 78, an Air Force retiree and licensed chemical dependency counselor.

He and his wife Maria will be traveling to Houston next month to receive the Lifetime Honorary Membership Award from the National Association for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors.

“It’s for my lifetime of service in helping substance abuse,” Jones said. “I still have my license. I don’t do counseling much anymore but I still consult with colleagues and organizations.”

Jones began his career as a drug and alcohol abuse counselor in 1974 in the Air Force.

“I did a study for the Air Force on equal opportunity and treatment that they wanted on personnel,” said the former avionics technician.

“After completing that study they wanted me to go into social actions and be a drug and alcohol control technician,” he said. “I accepted that assignment and they said they really needed help at Laughlin Air Force Base.”

Laughlin is in Del Rio. Recall again this was in the early 1970s as the Vietnam War was winding down. The United States was being “inundated” with drug and alcohol abuse, Jones said.

“It spilled over into the military and Laughlin is right on the Mexican border,” Jones said. “There was a real problem there. I went there and took over the drug and alcohol programs.”

Jones performed evaluations and outpatient work there and sent heavy drug users and alcoholics to inpatient treatment. His last few years in the Air Force were spent as an alcohol and drug abuse counselor.

After he retired in 1979 as a master sergeant, he continued his education and found other opportunities to help those in pain.

“San Antonio State Hospital wanted me to take over the mental health clinic in Del Rio,” he said. “I was there for a number of years and then I moved back to the Valley.”

He worked for various treatment centers over the years. It was rewarding and challenging work.

“The main enjoyment I got was seeing people recover and their families getting back together,” he said. “The challenge was working with individuals who were under the influence and making sure they got detoxed. Then I helped them develop a treatment plan for recovery. That was difficult.”

These days he continues to help as much as he can, so others may continue their journeys through life for years to come.

twhitehead@valleystar.com

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