Budget Cuts Could Close Treatment Centers Across State

SPOKANE, Wash. - Washington's Department of Social and Health Services is preparing to slash its budget by $873 Million, and proposed cuts would eliminate funding for adult services for all state-funded drug and alcohol treatment centers, methadone clinics and detox facilities across the state.

Governor Chris Gregoire called for every state department to show her what a 10-percent cut to the budget would look like, and DSHS Secretary Susan Dreyfus that in their proposed budget cuts, "there are reductions that are for many of us unthinkable but would be necessary to reach the 10-percent goal."

A DUI, time in jail and losing her children all led to Janna Oxos's lowest point.

"My whole world fell apart," she said. "When I drink I go into blackouts, I go out and get DWIs, I lose my driving privileges."

Janna says she would drink to the point of blacking out every two to three days. But after going through inpatient treatment, Janna is now in outpatient treatment at New Horizon.

"They do everything in their power so you don't go back to jail and that you succeed," she said.

But if proposed state budget cuts go through, Janna wouldn't be able to continue treatment unless she forked out the money from her own pocket.

"There would be no way, it would be impossible for me, no job, no income," she said, adding that if she didn't have the services, her chances of surviving "would probably be zero."

"If they can't come to treatment, they can't meet their legal requirements that they have, that means they'll go back to jail, and they can't go back to work and be productive citizens," New Horizon administrator Marilyn Bordar said.

Bordar says the cuts won't just impact patients; her staff would be slashed from 25 employees down to just four, a 75-percent cut in staffing levels.

The reason is that a majority of the patients get funding for treatment through the state, and its that funding that is giving people like Janna Oxos hope for a brighter future.

"The important thing is I have a chance at life, and if I didn't have treatment there would be no chance period," she said.

Secretary Dreyfus is holding a town hall event Wednesday evening from 5:30 through 7:30 at 8517 East Trent Avenue in Suite 101 and is hoping to hear people's concerns about the budget cuts.

As for the budget proposal, it will be debated during a special legislative session at the end of November.