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Tuesday, December 20, 2011 - 12:32pm

Drug Programs Could Close

Among the potential casualties of budget cutting in Washington are programs in Georgia that help women break their drug addiction and find work.

The programs have helped thousands of Georgia women, but Congress has not provided more than $20 million the state uses to fund them. That could mean the closure of 14 outpatient programs and 80 beds for residential treatment.

The programs provide residential or outpatient treatment to women and their children, which is what advocates say what makes them so unique and effective. And they said the cuts will save money now, but end up costing more down the road.

“Nationally, we know that about 13 percent of all state costs are because of addiction, whether that’s crime, whether that’s emergency room visits, healthcare, kids in foster care, unemployment, homelessness, all of those sort of social costs,” said Neil Kaltenecker, executive director of the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse. “That safety net just [will not be] there for these folks.”

Kaltenecker said the real strength of the programs is their work with participants’ children.

“We know that addiction is a family illness, it affects the families,” she said. “So what we do in these programs is have therapeutic childcare where you’re teaching kids [and] kind of shoring up their strengths so they don’t have to go down the same road [of addiction].”

Georgia is one of 17 states that get the supplemental federal funding under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.