Newsbrief: Budget Woes Close Detox, Treatment Facilities in NC, Iowa 8/9/02

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The budget crisis in the states has claimed two more drug treatment victims, this time in Iowa and North Carolina. In North Carolina, the Catawba County detoxification center for alcohol and drug abusers will close August 9 because of state cutbacks, the Charlotte Observer reported. The county Mental Health Services Board, faced with a $1.4 million shortfall because of cuts at the statehouse, axed the program, saying it would save the county $358,000 this fiscal year.

The closure also puts a kink in plans for a long-delayed combined detox and outpatient drug treatment center, which was to have started construction last fall. Currently, the detox center and the outpatient clinic are in separate locations. And starting next week, the detox center won't be there at all.

Meanwhile, budget woes have forced the imminent closure of Iowa's only state-run drug rehabilitation program. The Mt. Pleasant-based center treats nonviolent offenders and parole violators who have agreed to participate in lieu of going to or returning to prison. The program has stopped taking new clients and will shut down after current clients finish their month-long program. The state Department of Health and Safety estimated that it could save $450,000 by shutting down the center, which currently has 30 residents.

But state Rep. Dave Heaton (R-Mt. Pleasant) told his local newspaper the state was being penny wise and pound foolish. Heaton told the Hawk Eye that in its bid to save $450,000, Iowa would end up spending $3.5 million to imprison the approximately 200 people who would have been sent to the center.

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