State preparing to add more addiction treatment centers

Helena, Montana (AP) 9-07

The state is seeking bids from private companies to start up and run seven long-term, group home-like drug and alcohol treatment centers across the state.

The state’s current two-year budget includes $4 million to run the centers.

“Recovery works,” Gov. Brian Schweitzer told a small crowd that gathered at the Capitol at an event to highlight the centers.

Ken Taylor, program officer for the state Chemical Dependency Bureau, said the centers will be small, with room for eight people. Recovering addicts will live in the centers for six to nine months. He estimated 80 people could be served by the centers each year.

State Department of Public Health and Human Services figures show the centers will cost the state about $70 a day per person. The state also is considering one much smaller treatment center for addicts who have psychiatric and medical problems. It would cost $208 per person per day, but people would only stay for 45 days.

The new centers will be financed by the state but run by private companies.

“This is the first time the Chemical Dependency Bureau has received money from the general fund for chemical dependency treatment,” said Joan Cassidy, bureau chief. It’s also the first time they’ve asked. Current treatment funding comes from Medicaid, taxes on alcohol that are earmarked for treatment and federal grants.

Requests for proposals are expected to go out soon, Cassidy said Aug. 24.

The centers will have to be spread across the state and two must be on or near Indian reservations, Cassidy said Aug. 30. They will primarily treat methamphetamine addicts, but will be open to those seeking treatment for addiction to alcohol or other drugs, she said.

The state money will be used for treatment and supportive living. None of the state money can be used for construction and Cassidy expects providers will remodel existing homes.

Costs will be based on a sliding scale, depending on the addict’s ability to pay.

Cassidy said efforts by the Montana Meth Project raised the awareness of the problems of addiction.

Schweitzer said backing treatment carries some political risk because recovery is not a sure thing.

“It’s not a straight line. We know that,” he said. Political enemies will be able to find someone who went through a state treatment center and didn’t stay clean. But there will be many more success stories, he said, and Montana families will be put back together.

In the long run, treatment saves money, Schweitzer said.

“We cannot afford to put everybody in jail in Montana for the rest of their lives because they are addicted,” he said.

The state has six group home treatment centers: women’s and children’s homes in Great Falls, Billings and Missoula, a men’s transitional home in Helena and group homes in Bozeman and Livingston, Cassidy said.