Editor’s note: Following National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month, we’ve asked several individuals to share their ideas about addiction issues and the war on drugs. This week, Kimá Joy Taylor, Director of OSI-Baltimore’s Tackling Drug Addiction Initiative, closes the Recovery Month series with her thoughts.
The recession and other health care changes have created a critical time when addiction treatment funding will change tremendously. As the state and nation seek to address health care and increase access to care, it is disturbing to see how much of the conversation is focused on the money and not on the people, not on people getting better and engaging in a full life. Not on people with a chronic disease who need ongoing access to a whole variety of care—addiction treatment or mental health, but also prevention services, vaccines, cancer screenings and the total health care package.
I realize that cuts are a reality and that the budget crisis means we have to save money. But, part of saving money is looking at what patients need to improve and then looking at the current structure to see if the funding fits with these needs. It means spending money early so that one can reap savings later—i.e. early diagnosis in an effort to decrease long term health care costs, plus, improving someone’s life earlier. The state and city need a map of how to fund addiction as a chronic disease. The state recently held a convening to talk about recovery-oriented systems of care, and ideal treatment systems, but many of these documents and ideas are missing from current discussions. Addiction treatment is more than acute episodic care, in fact, health care for someone with addiction is more than addiction treatment—it is taking care of a whole person to take care of a whole person, the whole person has to enter into budget conversations.