Pubdate: Tue, 20 Jun 2000
Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)
Copyright: 2000 St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Author: Joseph D. Shaffer, Suzanne Hughes


Substance-abuse treatment reduces costs from crime and health care.
Successful treatment also benefits society through increased wages for
recovering individuals.

A recent report by the federal Center for Substance Abuse Treatment found
that savings to society are much more than what it invests in treatment. The
study found that the average saving per client in the year after treatment
was more than three times the average cost of one treatment episode.

It is clear that treatment not only restores health to individuals but also
saves taxpayers money and returns dividends to the community.

These findings coincide with decisions made by the Illinois Legislature and
Gov. George Ryan to increase funding for substance abuse treatment in
Illinois. On May 17, Ryan signed a human services budget that includes a 12
percent increase in funding for addiction treatment.

As a provider of substance-abuse services to counties in the 20th Judicial
Circuit in Illinois, we recognize the impact this increase will have on the
lives of people in the cities and towns we serve. We applaud the Legislature
and Ryan for their commitment to the support of people in need of addiction

Joseph D. Shaffer
Deputy Area Administrator
Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities Inc.


Following a recent "20/20" program, "Drinking: Are You in Control?" Dr.
Nancy Snyderman suggested that Americans begin a dialogue about treatment
for alcoholism. We couldn't agree more.

The Missouri Recovery Network is one of 19 community support programs
nationwide funded by the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Part of our
mission is to close the gaps between treatment and 12-step programs.

Unfortunately, the "20/20" segment stirred controversy and allowed several
so-called experts to fire blame in all directions.

There is no one way to recover from alcoholism. The answer is not to
discount one treatment option for another, but to work together to fund
research and broaden treatment options for active alcoholics.

The show did little to address the larger issue: alcoholism as a nationwide
public health crisis.

Missourians pay $1,000 per capita in taxes annually for alcoholics and
addicts in the criminal justice system, the welfare system, the public
health and mental health systems, and for higher auto and accident insurance
premiums. Since 80 percent of all alcoholics work full-time, they are
costing businesses in lost productivity and higher absenteeism and an
increase of more than 300 percent in medical costs.

The public payoff for fully treating those with addiction disease is huge.
Every $1 invested in treatment yields between $4 and $7 in reduced
drug-related crimes, criminal justice costs and theft alone.

By far, the most gratifying benefit of treatment is the return of the
alcoholic to being a productive member of society who works, votes, pays
taxes and becomes involved in his or her community.

Treatment for alcoholism is a win-win situation for individuals, for
communities and businesses, and for society.

Suzanne Hughes
Interim Director
Missouri Recovery Network
Jefferson City
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