A recent article from the Star Tribune reiterates a growing problem; more and more detox centers are shutting down.
Across the country, many states are shutting down drug detox centers, especially those that serve low income areas. Cost cutting and industry consolidation is hurting addicts and alcoholics across the board. Low-cost detox centers are becoming a thing of the past while rehabilitation and detox centers focus on more profitable areas of the business or cut back due to state budget cutting. Insurance companies are making best attempts to work within the guidelines but if the sector continues to erode more companies will leave.
The Poor And Low Income Families Are Being Effected The Most By Drug Detox Center Closings
In some states, like Minnesota, drug detox centers have been slashed in half over the last decade. Low income and poor families located in small towns have little recourse as detox centers close across the landscape and leave them without local treatment options. Low income families are being isolated and forced to travel long distances for treatment which is putting tremendous strain on families and local authorities.
The homeless and mentally ill are suffering the most from detox center closures. They often lack the capability to deal with such a serious disease and are forced to make choices that are often not in their best interest. The need to help chronic drug addicts, alcoholics, the homeless and the mentally ill has never been greater. Low income detox centers offer guidance and support to those who need the most help and without them countless will be cast aside without help.
Detox Center Closures Are Hurting Local Authorities
The closure of detox centers has put a large burden on local county services such as local Sheriffs, Police, Emergency Response Teams and Hospital ER’s. Cutbacks are forcing emergency rooms to be flooded with intoxicated people and severe drug users. “Cost cutting in one area is causing an overload in other areas,” states one hospital administrator. Patients who do not need acute care are occupying the beds of those who really need them. Local services are doing their best not to turn people away.
Local police are being forced to drive drunks or drug users hundreds of miles to the closest detox center. Police should be fighting crime but they are forced to transport people to distant counties.
The public is looking at local and state governments to pick up the slack but it is a very touchy subject among residents. Many residents become upset that their tax dollars are being used to support alcoholics or drug addicts. But the flip side to the argument is that tax revenue can help treat alcoholics and drug users by providing treatment and shelter. Tax payers do not want to contribute until they see someone sleeping on their front lawn.
Should the Government Run Detox Centers?
Local governments have clamped down on the operating requirements for drug detox centers but have offered little support to help them stay afloat. As a society we cannot turn away those who need help but something has to be done to give people a fighting chance at recovery and a regular life. As the population grows and drug and alcohol availability increases we have the obligation to help those who need it.