Massive cuts could close almost every state drug rehab

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by ERIC WILKINSON / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on September 29, 2011 at 5:19 PM

Updated Friday, Sep 30 at 1:08 PM

SEATTLE -- Governor Chris Gregoire asked every state department to show her what a 10 percent across the board cut would look like to fill the massive budget hole. We've long heard that state departments are cut to the bone -- and with no one willing to raise taxes -- this is an example of cutting into the marrow.

Proposed cuts from DSHS would close almost every state-funded outpatient drug treatment center, methadone clinic and detox facility in Washington. Treatment for pregnant women and women who have custody of their children would be exempted, along with drug treatment for youth.

Counselors at the Recovery Centers of King County fear a massive ripple effect of crime, homelessness, battered women, child abuse, and broken families if those cuts go through.

"They'll go back to their old lifestyles," said RCKC Director, Josie Daniels, who herself beat meth addiction to win back custody of her own children. "Jails are going to get fuller. There's going to be no safety net in place whatsoever."

DSHS Secretary Susan Dreyfus says these are cuts that she doesn't believe in, and that she can't defend, but she had to come up something because everything else in the department has already been cut so deeply. DSHS has hacked more than $2 billion and 3,500 jobs over the past two years. Dreyfus agreed the cuts would only drive up other costs at prisons, hospitals, and police departments. Not to mention the human cost.

"No rational person could look at this and say it makes sense," she said.

Jessica Miller, a 40-year-old recovering meth addict who has been clean for four months, is desperately working in treatment to get her three children back. She can't afford expensive, for-profit rehab centers and compares the counselling she's getting to medicine for a disease. She worries what will happen if her "medicine" is taken away.

"I have the disease of addiction. I need treatment," Miller said. "Is a cancer patient without his medicine going to survive? No. I don't think I will either."

The proposal is part of a massive cost cutting package that will be debated at a special legislative session at the end of November.

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