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Disastrous Consequences Predicted with Florida Senate Budget Proposal
Southwest Florida Addiction Services is sounding the warning bell that the proposed Florida Senate budget, if approved, will have disastrous consequences with 1,000 people going without substance abuse treatment services in SW Florida alone.
Kevin B. Lewis, CEO
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DISASTROUS CONSEQUENCES PREDICTED
WITH SENATE BUDGET PROPOSAL
FORT MYERS, FLA., February 14, 2012 – The proposed Florida Senate budget, if adopted, would have disastrous consequences for Southwest Florida residents, officials with Southwest Florida Addiction Services (SWFAS) warned today.
The proposed budget, presented by the Senate Budget Subcommittee on Health and Human Services, would result in an 85 percent cut in state general revenue funding for adult substance abuse treatment other than detoxification, according to SWFAS CEO Kevin B. Lewis.
If approved, SWFAS would lose more than $700,000 in state support and $300,000 in related revenues, resulting in elimination of services of up to 1,000 individuals and families. Several programs also would be curtailed along with jobs, although Lewis said it was too early to say how many jobs could be impacted.
“Florida is in the middle of the largest prescription drug epidemic ever faced by this state. Up to seven Floridians are dead EVERY DAY as a result of overdoses statewide. Now is not the time to be cutting services to adults. We should be talking about funding additional services to begin addressing the consequences of this epidemic,” Lewis said.
SWFAS treats more than 4,000 adults per year with services ranging from detoxification to outpatient counseling and residential treatment. Only detoxification services would remain intact for adults.
Services that would be impacted are:
Adult Outpatient Therapy — 500 to 700 people would not receive treatment, primarily among the indigent population who do not have insurance. About 90 percent of SWFAS adult treatment is on an outpatient basis;
Short Term Adult Residential Care – Up to 200 people would not receive this service or it could be eliminated entirely;
Family Drug Court – Services would be reduced for this program that helps reunify parents with their children.
Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott predicted that crime will increase as a result of reduced treatment for those with alcohol and drug problems.
“Law enforcement is not prepared to handle the treatment and care of persons with substance abuse and mental health problems. And without treatment options, the number of crimes committed certainly will climb,” Scott said.
Alcohol and drug abuse is involved in more than half of the cases of domestic violence, child abuse and neglect. Sheriff’
Lewis added that individuals with substance abuse disorders won’t just disappear.
“When they can’t get treatment with SWFAS, they’ll show up in our hospital emergency rooms, which are ill-equipped to handle substance abuse disorders. Emergency room care also is our most expensive level of health care and will increase costs for all of us,” he said.
Lewis said the key is increased funding for substance abuse, at the federal, state and local levels. The State of Florida, for example, provides funding for 20 percent of the need.
SWFAS is the most comprehensive substance abuse treatment and prevention program in Southwest Florida, serving 6,000 people per year from ages 9 to 90. SWFAS offers outpatient and residential programs for both adults and youngsters from five locations in Lee County and two in Hendry County. In addition, SWFAS provides detoxification services for adults, prevention programming, and an Employee Assistance Program for about 60 Southwest Florida businesses.
SWFAS services are not free. Fees are charged on a sliding scale, based on family income. In many cases, private insurance is accepted. SWFAS is a United Way agency.
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