Pubdate: Fri, 09 Dec 2011
Source: Seattle Times (WA)
Copyright: 2011 Elizabeth A. Wells
Author: Elizabeth A. Wells


Cheaper Than Crime, Health Care

Chances are good that each reader of this letter has a relative or
friend addicted to alcohol or drugs. Addiction often leads to
unemployment and decimation of personal resources, so publicly funded
treatment is needed by many.

Gov. Chris Gregoire's Nov. 21 budget proposal eliminates $28.4 million
from chemical dependency services. This is penny-wise and
pound-foolish; for every dollar spent on treatment there are at least
seven saved. Treatment reduces crime, health-care costs and child
mistreatment, and increases employment and job productivity.

The governor's proposal for a temporary increase in sales tax
["Gregoire proposes sales-tax increase," page one, Nov. 22] would
restore funds to the criminal-justice system. Preventing crimes (and
their costs to victims) would seem a better use of revenue than
increasing prison capacity.

People with addiction are stigmatized; their behavior is seen as a
lifestyle choice or moral failing. It could be hard to sell a tax
increase to assist "bad" people who have made "bad" choices. Yet it is
hard to dismiss these vital services if one thinks about the effect of
alcohol and drugs on friends and relatives. Like the other populations
targeted in state cuts, people with addiction are everywhere in the
state, and their successful recovery has broad positive impacts on

- - Elizabeth A. Wells, Seattle
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