The editorial board of the largest news paper in Ohio, Cleveland’s Plain Dealer, has made a direct demand to the Governor of Ohio to make drug and alcohol treatment funding a priority. As a drug counselor, social worker, criminal defense attorney and recovering addict myself, I can’t agree more strenuously. Right now, treatment for the disease of addiction is rarely available on demand, Typically, wait times for entry into treatment run from 2 weeks to 2 months.
Though we hear more about heart disease and cancer, because we understand those to be diseases, many addicted clients suffer from the most costly disease in the world. Addiction results in the following forms of direct and indirect financial costs: under productivity at work due to “hangovers”, not showing up for work, car accidents, assaults/domestic violence, divorce, bankruptcy, foreclosure, arrests, diseases (cirrhosis of the liver just to name one) treatment, and the list goes on. Addiction costs roughly $524 billion per year in America. More than heart disease and diabetes combined.
We need to understand that our loved ones do not want to live this way. Addiction is not a choice. No one would “choose” to act in ways that destroy their lives and the lives of others. Sure, there was the initial choice to pick up a drink or a drug, but after that, many of us have no control and simply cannot stop without medical assistance. I encourage everyone touched by this disease to speak out and ask your legislators to make more money available to treat these very sick individuals.