Budget Cuts Not Helping Drug Abuse in U.S.

Budget Cuts Not Helping Drug Abuse in U.S.

As the economy has been a bumpy ride for many over the last year, those in the drug treatment arena have felt much of the pinch from tightened budgets and reduced spending.

According to a piece in the Zanesville Times Recorder, the funding for treatment is continually shrinking, while the number of addicts needing help is not following the same trend.

For Steve Carrel, Muskingum Behavioral Health executive director, his office is treating 600 clients per year, but doing so with a 20 percent cut in staff and a budget of $800,000, down from $1,000,000 two years ago.

National Drug Control Policy Director, R. Gil Kerlikowske told international delegates at a conference in Vienna, Austria that drugs are a huge threat to society and one that demands a comprehensive and effective response.

Kerlikowske has A National Drug Control Strategy due later in the year, which is expected to emphasize and focus on a commitment to reduce drug consumption in the United States. One key theme will be community-based prevention which will mean an increase in the national drug budget of 13 percent.

At present, substance abuse costs the United States more than $50 million in health care spending every year. Kerlikowske believes it is time to integrate care for substance use disorders into the entire health care system. This inclusion would mean the expansion of screening and brief intervention and referral to treatment programs in an array of settings.

The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Agency in Ohio, run by John Postlethwaite, lost $2.9 million in funding, a big loss for an agency that helps other law enforcement agencies with overtime, additional officers and drug interdiction programs.

“It’s been a tight budget,” Postlethwaite said. “What I suggest people do is write their leaders in Washington. We sponsor 13 task forces across the state, but right now have no discretionary funding. That results in our highway interdiction program, which produced tremendous results by stopping drugs from coming into the state, being cut.”

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