|Texas’ state legislators passed a budget for 2014-2016 with a dramatic increase in funding for substance use disorder services – 64% over the last biennium. This is the first budget increase in many years and a major success for our publicly funded providers. This also speaks to a major triumph in changing the perception that our lawmakers have about addiction treatment. They are beginning to recognize it is far more cost effective to provide treatment than to continue to incarcerate addicts or pay for the short and long term health consequences of untreated addiction. And we know it also saves lives!
Mental health and substance use treatment has really been on the radar in Austin as well as Washington DC this year. Recent tragedies that have highlighted the lack of resources for behavioral health treatment brought those issues to the front and center of the nation’s attention, making our senators and representatives much more open to talking about treatment as a solution. Hopefully this can be something positive that comes from tragedy; the attention that is being paid to mental health and addiction issues will result in more people getting the help they need and preventing some future tragedies.