Pubdate: Sun, 13 May 2007
Source: Des Moines Register (IA)
Copyright: 2007 The Des Moines Register.
Author: Jennifer Jacobs
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)
Bookmark: (Treatment)


Treating abusers costs half as much as sending them to prison, but 
federal funding for such programs ends soon.

Iowa could become a leader in the nation in treating methamphetamine 
addiction if the government invests more money in programs and 
research here, treatment advocates told Sen. Tom Harkin in Des Moines 
on Saturday.

Meth addiction is still a problem here, with about 6,000 Iowans 
entering treatment programs each year, state health officials said.

Although new laws have limited access to cold medication and 
anhydrous ammonia used in meth manufacturing, a new and stronger 
version of meth called "ice" is being imported into Iowa.

"Jail is the final dumping ground for treatment," said Story County 
Sheriff Paul Fitzgerald, who was one of 22 officials who joined 
Harkin for a roundtable discussion on methamphetamine.

But there are only three jail-based treatment programs in Iowa - in 
Polk, Woodbury and Scott counties.

The Polk County Jail program costs $300,000 and treats about 240 
addicts per year, Polk County Sheriff Dennis Anderson said Saturday. 
A new study by the University of Iowa shows treatment at the jail 
costs half as much as prison, he said. But the federal funding for 
the program dries up Oct. 1, Anderson said.

After several people in the group talked about programs that lacked 
money, Harkin said if they can bridge through this year, federal 
lawmakers will come through with money for 2008.

"I'd be shocked if we don't. I'm making this a very high priority," 
said Harkin, who introduced a bill last week that would provide 
grants for meth prevention and treatment.

Harkin called the treatment program at the Polk County Jail "a great 
template" that should be duplicated across the country.

Polk County juvenile court Judge Connie Cohen told Harkin that mental 
health services are critical to long-term recovery, too. As many as 
75 percent of meth addicts also have a mental health disorder, said 
Penny Bassman, manager of the Powell Chemical Dependency Center in Des Moines.


Fighting Methamphetamine

LEGISLATION: Sen. Tom Harkin last week introduced a bill called the 
Methamphetamine Abuse Treatment and Prevention Act, which would 
funnel money toward programs across the nation that are already 
showing results in treating and preventing meth addiction.

Price Tag: $140 million

How The Money Would Be Spent:

- - Instead of sending nonviolent adults and teens to jail or a 
detention center, they could go to alternative treatment programs, 
paid for with federal grants.

- - Specifically for parents, grants would pay for comprehensive, 
family-based treatment services to help them recover and provide a 
safe home for their children.

- - Once addicts exit jail or a treatment program, they would be able 
to get help with mental health care, housing, schooling and other needs.

- - Grants would pay to bring teams of professionals together to decide 
what's best for infants and toddlers in abuse cases in juvenile court.

- - To boost the number of addiction treatment specialists, 
scholarships would pay for advanced training and college tuition for 
people who agree to work in rural or underserved areas.

- - Treatment facilities with fewer than 32 beds would be able to get 
Medicaid reimbursement for services.

- - To curb meth experimentation in youths, a help line would be 
created to give parents guidance on intervention and treatment resources.

About Methamphetamine

USERS: Nearly 12 million Americans have used methamphetamine, and the 
number of users increased 72 percent over the past decade, Sen. Tom 
Harkin said. More than half started before they turned 18.

TREATMENT: About 6,000 Iowans enter treatment for meth addiction each 
year, according to state health officials.
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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman