In North Carolina, for example, three state-run facilities are losing 12% of their funding per year for the next few years. Also, drug treatment advocates and addiction counselors in Maryland protested a proposed $4.5 million cut to treatment funding earlier this year.
While more than 87% of treatment facilities are privately-owned and operated, nearly 60% of the programs available to people receive some type of public assistance through Federal, state or local agencies.
Although many treatment advocates are hopeful that the Affordable Care Act will provide more access to rehab programs via insurance coverage, there are also concerns of rising premiums and overall healthcare costs as a result. The money has to come from somewhere, and pulling it from treatment budgets only works if private-pay facilities can operate more successfully and if they are also able to lower their prices in order to accommodate more people who need help.
There has to be access to treatment for people, and making it affordable should be a priority. Maybe those who receive public assistance are then required to pay that money back over time so that there is an even greater return on investment of treatment dollars. There could also be special funds set up for treatment through taxation of alcohol by consumers, or a treatment fund paid into by pharmaceutical companies since they do make billions off prescription drug addiction.
While some of these ideas may seem a bit crazy or at least slightly far-fetched, the fact still remains that our country is better off helping substance abusers get into treatment programs rather than putting them in jail or leaving them to continue using. Addiction costs much more in the long run when left untreated.