Pittsburgh, PA

Letters to the editor,
Thursday, March 20, 2003

This cut will only add to the state's problems

I add my voice to those who urge restoration of funding for addiction treatment in the Pennsylvania state budget.

The effects of the recession in Pennsylvania are doubtlessly extremely painful.  Nonetheless, any reductions in support of the treatment of addictive diseases will surely accelerate health-care costs and crime across the commonwealth.  Both research and experience have taught us that addiction treatment is a wise investment.  The research is overwhelming: every dollar spent on treatment saves a minimum of $7 in other health care as well as in the reduction of crime.

As director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, I became convinced that no serious national or state effort to reduce drug abuse will succeed without addiction treatment as a major component.  Without access to treatment of sufficient intensity and duration, our best efforts to reduce supply will certainly fall short.

For this reason, we worked tirelessly at ONDCP to increase funding for addiction treatment.  After leaving ONDCP, I continued this interest by joining the board of directors for CRC Health Corp., an addiction treatment corporation with superb facilities in your state (White Deer Run/Cove Forge).

Review of Pennsylvania's proposed spending plan for treatment compels me to write.  The budget would eliminate more than $68 million -- a 40  percent cut -- for treatment, impacting an estimated 17,000 of the commonwealth's most vulnerable citizens and will further devastate their desperate, frightened families. Some anti-drug programs will be cut out entirely.

This is our most important domestic struggle.  With one in four families facing addiction and chronic substance abuse, it is the battle we wage in our homes and hearts. It is a struggle for the lives of our nation's children.

I urge Gov. Ed Rendell and state legislative leaders to restore treatment dollars in the budget.

Alexandria VA