by Zakia Ruquiya, GPS Parent Partner

We would like to create a Substance Use Disorders Treatment Account and require 30% of the funds collected from alcohol license issuance fees from spirits distributor licensees to be deposited into the account.  Revenue from this account should be directed to support community-based prevention, recovery support and treatment services.

This initiative is designed to provide funding for programs where state and federal funding falls short.   State revenues are anticipated to decline further as the state looks to make up a deficit. Despite declining revenues, people are in need of services more than ever.

The Washington State Department of Social & Health Services has estimated that prevalence of mental illness in our state to be 3.83% for adults and the prevalence of “Serious Emotional Disturbance” to be 7% for youth.

According to the Washington State Office of Financial Management, “Division of Alcohol and Substance Abuse” has estimated that almost 11% of adults living in our state need Drug and/or Alcohol Treatment.

Health and Substance Abuse Tax

Many people seen all around the County Counseling Centers suffer from debilitating illnesses like Major Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, and Drug Dependence.   Most have already tried to get help from their families, support systems, and churches. As beneficial as that help is, it often times isn’t enough and “bridges are burned” as a result of the chronic and severe problems.

Yet quality mental health and substance abuse treatment services have been scientifically shown to reduce health care costs, medical and psychiatric hospitalization, emergency room visits, crime and criminal justice costs, social service and welfare costs, and improve family functioning, employment, and worker productivity.

Why our law makers should vote to pass this initiative, many people with mental illness and/or substance abuse issues are seen repeatedly in the criminal justice system and in the health care system. This causes the cost of these services to rise, and neither the criminal justice system nor our local medical health care systems are designed to treat serious psychiatric or substance abuse problems. Thus, people with mental illness and/or substance abuse problems that do not receive effective treatment cost taxpayers more money every time they encounter the criminal justice system or our health care system.

This initiative will help to save money, we are already spending tax funds to address the emergency needs of this population in our medical and criminal justice systems. According to the Washington Community Mental Health Council, the average cost per client for community mental health services is under $5,000 per year. In contrasts, the average annual cost of incarcerations is $27,000 and the average annual cost of psychiatric hospitalization is $70,000. This tax is an opportunity for the local community to more effectively direct our tax dollars to our priorities, and address the mental health and chemical dependency issues in our community.

www.dshs.wa.gov/…behavioral…/substance-abuse

Like most health conditions, mental health and substance use disorders can be prevented and treated.  Preventing the health and safety impacts on children and adults, and the costs to communities, is a high priority.

Goals to Be Achieved
Passing this Use Tax would help to Provide For Operation and Delivery of Chemical Dependency or Mental Health Treatment and Therapeutic Programs And Services.

Those goals are to:

  • Reduce the incidence and severity of chemical dependency and/or mental health disorders in adults and youth
  • Reduce the number of individuals with chemical dependency and/or mental health disorders using costly interventions such as hospitals, emergency rooms, or jails
  • Diverge adults and youth with chemical dependency and/or mental health disorders from initial or further involvement with the criminal justice system
  • Support linkages with other county efforts
  • Provide outreach to underserved populations
  • Provide culturally appropriate service delivery