Most of us are aware of a drug and alcohol problem. DUI's, drug violence, overdoses… all pop up in the news, gossip, etc. We hear about it in churches, schools, at work, and from our friends and neighbors. However, the true extent of the problem of addiction is far wider than most can imagine. This problem touches every aspect of every person's life. While there are a myriad of studies in publication, the amount of information out there is overwhelming, making it difficult to form a comprehensive picture.
Joseph Califano, in High Society: How Substance Abuse Ravages America and What to do About It
, puts the annual cost of substance abuse to the United States at one trillion dollars. Initial releases from the West Virginia Prevention Resource Center
put the cost for West Virginia at $95 million per year, however, the final report puts the cost at $1.6 billion, and this is expected to rise to $2.3 billion by 2017.
"The high costs of substance abuse presented in all of our reports are actually conservative, because they focus only on direct costs,"
said Yetty Shobo, WVPRC Evaluation Specialist and author of the report
The greatest cost of all is the children who are growing up in the hell of an addict household. One child in ten is living in a house where the family is in a progressed state of addiction. One in four children is living in a house where alcohol abuse is a daily fact of life. Children of addicts have a significantly greater risk of mental illness, physical/emotional problems and learning difficulties. They are three times more likely to be verbally, physically or sexually abused, four times more likely to be neglected, and a child that knows nothing but addiction can't help but eventually adopt that lifestyle. Of the few that don't, most will end up becoming co-addicts.
Although there are a variety of treatment options, for many, the only effective programs are long-term residential treatment programs or halfway houses. Studies show that the recovery rate for halfway house programs is anywhere from 30% to 60%. The wide range is due to extreme differences in programs. To be effective, residential programs should meet the needs of the individual… recovery counseling, medical and/or psychological treatment, education and/or GED services, vocational counseling, anger management programs, interpersonal relationship counseling, life skills counseling… in short, all of the aspects of a normal life. It is simply not enough to get an addict clean; they must be prepared to assume a place in society.
The Services Research Outcome Study
follows the outcomes for five years after initial treatment in 1989 and1990 (latest study available). This study shows a 50% to 75% greater recovery rate for halfway houses than other forms of treatment. Even this is misleading because halfway house patients are generally much further progressed in addiction than average. Also, there is a significant reduction in criminal activity as well as resumption of social roles such as parenting, employment, etc.
Studies show a return on investment to society ranging from $3 to $7 for every $1 spent on treatment. For halfway houses, the return is $13 to $17 for every $1 spent.
In West Virginia, there are thousands of people waiting for beds in halfway houses. There are only 11 houses in the WV Association of Fellowship Homes
, in addition to faith-based and Oxford House programs, but all told there are no more than 30 or 40 halfway houses total in the state. At roughly 10 people per house, that's only 600 people per year receiving the treatment they need.
AMHI's long range plan is to open, or assist in opening, 18-20 houses in the Eastern Panhandle. Houses for men, for women, and for women with children are in particular need. Most women can't leave their children at home with a spouse that is still abusing substances to receive treatment for themselves. While this plan is ambitious, if we're successful it will address only a very small portion of the need. A positive side effect of this effort is that recovery is contagious: the more that we can keep substance abuse treatment in the public eye, the more it attracts people into recovery.
AMHI is also involved in building a coalition of all substance abuse treatment concerns including short-term, long-term, in and out patient services, detoxification facilities, halfway and three-quarter houses, options for families and children of addicts, drug and alcohol education and awareness, etc.
Our initial project is the Alkire Mansion in Keyser. To date, we've received $35,000 from the Oxycontin Settlement and from discretionary economic development grants sponsored by our legislators. We still need $35,000 to bring the house into compliance for the Fire Marshall and the Board of Health. Click here
for more information on the Alkire House.
Allegheny Mountain House Inc. is a non-profit, registered 501(c)(3) corporation. All donations are fully tax deductible.