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Letter: Substance abuse treatment programs need funding

Posted: March 17, 2014 - 12:01am

Alaskans need to talk to their legislators about maintaining or increasing existing funding for residential substance abuse treatment within the state.

Here is why:

1. Cutting funding for residential substance abuse treatment when Alaska continues to have high rates of alcoholism and substance abuse disorders is not appropriate.

2. Residential substance abuse treatment reduces incarceration/corrections budgets. Do you want to spend more on prisons?

3. Substance abuse is a public safety matter — substance abuse is a major contributing factor in the state’s high rate of DUIs, domestic violence and other crimes. Increased access to residential treatment is needed, not less.

4. By serving people early or when they are ready, the state of Alaska SAVES spending for more costly services down the road (or immediately) in corrections, Juvenile Justice, Office of Children’s Services and emergency room care.

5. Residential substance abuse treatment is designed not only to treat or resolve a person’s addiction, but also to address the underlying conditions and circumstances that contribute to addiction.

6. Entire families and communities benefit from their members receiving substance abuse treatment.

I can attest that when I served six villages in the Bush, alcoholism and drug dependence ran rampant. It took a lot of funds in law enforcement, and local treatment to address these problems. I attended eight — count them, eight! (alcohol-related deaths) funerals in six weeks. That was 10 years ago. Treatment was not available to those begging for it, and it is worse now. You want to vote to cut funding for already underfunded substance abuse? Please call me for more information, comments.

Miriam A. Jensen

Juneau

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