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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Sherri McDonald, Director,  Thurston  County  Public Health and Social Services, 360-786-5581
Erik Landaas, Chemical Dependency Treatment, 360-786-5581
Doug Allen, Director-Division of Alcohol and Substance Abuse, DSHS, 360-725-3700

Additional Treatment Dollars Mean Help for Addicts and Cost Savings

OLYMPIA – A new study by the state Department of Social and Health Services has shown that additional money spent on chemical dependency treatment has assisted addicts and saved money for taxpayers.  Officials with Thurston County Public Health and Social Services say their experience supports the state's findings.

The study tracked treatment spending in the wake of a $38.7-million legislative allocation passed in 2005.  In general terms, the information showed that an additional 4,211 people were able to access treatment because of the increase in funding.  The study also indicated that chemical dependency treatment under Medicaid and General Assistance funds saved between $149.00 and $287.00 per month, per person that would otherwise be spent in other ways on the addicted individual.

Erik Landaas, of Thurston County 's Chemical Dependency program, says the people served under the increased funding were in need of intensive case management.  "The people who received treatment have substance challenges that are severe enough that they impact the system in many different ways.  Often they wind up in detox, in mental health facilities, in community health facilities, the emergency rooms, the jail and the court system.  In those facilities they can be stabilized, but unless we get some actual treatment for their chemical dependency, they often go through the revolving door right back into the system.  In the long term that is much more expensive than treatment and that's what the state study and our experience, seems to demonstrate."

The additional state funding amounted to an increase for Thurston County Public Health youth treatment programs of $257,000 and funding of $422,000 for adult treatment programs.  Landaas says that allowed more treatment opportunities and a quicker and easier path into treatment for those who need it.

The treatment services included; Youth outpatient, Adult outpatient, Opiate treatment, Intensive case management, Group care enhancement and Nursing home services.

Landaas says there are a lot of community partners who contribute to the provision of chemical dependency services including-

  • Alternatives Professional Counseling
  • BHR Recovery Services
  • Educational Service District 113 – True North Student Assistance Program
  • Evergreen Treatment Services – South Sound Clinic
  • Northwest Resources
  • Providence St. Peter Chemical Dependency Center
  • SeaMar Community Health Center

Sherri McDonald, Director of Thurston County Public Health and Social Services, says she has never seen an expansion of treatment services like this program.  "We typically have trouble finding enough treatment spaces to meet the demand.  It was a challenge at times under this additional funding, to find the capacity that we could now pay for.  Because of our excellent relationship with the state, with our community-based providers and the Community Service Offices in Thurston and Mason Counties , we were able to steer folks through the qualifications and get them into a program where they could find the assistance they need.  This has been an excellent increase in treatment capacity and we certainly hope it continues."

To find out more about the Department of Social and Health Services study visit DSHS on the web at http://www.dshs.wa.gov/pdf/hrsa/dasa/TxExpUpdate.pdf  Those who wish to find out more about Thurston County Public Health and Social Services' Chemical Dependency programs can go to http://www.co.thurston.wa.us/health/sscd/index.html

County Commissioners:

Carolina Mejia
District 1

Gary Edwards
District 2

Tye Menser
District 3