Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco today announced that the Department of Health and Hospitals, Office for Addictive Disorders has been awarded a national Access to Recovery grant that will expand the capacity to treat addiction in Louisiana. The grant, funded through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), will pay $22.8 million over the next three years.

There were 66 applicants for these grants, and Louisiana was one of only 14 states and one Native American tribal organization to receive the funding. The grant will be processed through the Governor’s Office with DHH’s Office for Addictive Disorders serving as the lead agency.

Using the grant, the Office for Addictive Disorders hopes to achieve three major goals: expand capacity to serve more clients through existing treatment options; expand faith-based treatment options throughout Louisiana; and allow individuals seeking treatment a freedom of choice as to where they receive those services through the creation of an electronic voucher system. The grant targets women, pregnant women or women with dependent children, and adolescents. The initial programs resulting from the grant will focus on the New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Shreveport and Alexandria areas.

This grant is another example of the interdisciplinary work that Governor Blanco has stressed to her cabinet secretaries. With this grant focusing on adolescents, LDH's Office of Addictive Disorders will increase treatment options available in order to intervene earlier in the lives of troubled youths in order to prevent them from entering our juvenile justice system. The grant will provide opportunities to develop community-based treatment options in lieu of incarceration for those youths in the criminal justice system.

“As we struggle with finding ways to fund these critical services, it is vital that we seek federal grants such as these to directly impact families in our state,” said Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco. “I am so pleased that Louisiana has been selected to receive these competitive funds which are targeted to serve women and children in need of treatment.  When we help individuals recover, families are strengthened, and so is our state through community-based services in lieu of incarceration for youth.”

Tonja Myles, a Louisiana native who was invited to the 2003 State of the Union Address when the intent of these funds was announced, will provide assistance needed by other faith-based agencies to implement faith–based treatment and become licensed providers with the support of the Governor’s Office on Faith-Based Initiatives.

“This is just the beginning of what we hope to be a very strong partnership with my office and the community of faith,” said Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco.

Expanding substance abuse treatment was a need that was identified during the Governor’s Health Care Summit in March and is a critical component in the Governor’s juvenile justice reform efforts.  Initiatives to address this need were also outlined in DHH’s Preliminary Report to the Health Care Reform Panel.

With its existing budget, the Office for Addictive Disorders only reaches about 8 percent of those who have an identified need for treatment and only about 4.5 percent among adolescents in need of assistance.  On any given day, there are approximately 900 to 1,000 individuals on a waiting list to receive 24-hour care in our state.

A recent study by Dr. Loren Scott indicates that for every $1 the state spends on treatment for addiction, the taxpayers save up to $5.19. This figure includes future crime and medical care costs, and does not take into account the excess costs to education, social services and lost work productivity that can result from addiction.

Charles Curie, Administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration said that Access to Recovery is based on the knowledge that there are many pathways to recovery from addiction.

“The promise of this initiative -- founded on a belief in individual choice -- is that it ensures the availability of a full range of treatment options, including the transforming power of faith. That was the President's intent in creating this program in the first place, and requesting $600 million over three years in his 2003 State of the Union address,” Curie said.

“We know that treatment works and that it saves lives. We are grateful for the opportunity to be able to help more of our citizens with these additional funds and to directly impact juvenile justice reform in this state,” said Office for Addictive Disorders Assistant Secretary Michael Duffy. “My staff deserves a great deal of credit for the tremendous amount of work that went into this application - now the real work begins!”

Over the next three months, officials will focus on expanding the number of treatment programs and slots in existing programs statewide. The Department anticipates it will take approximately six months to set up the electronic voucher system.