A recovering drug and alcohol addict pleads with the legislature for more state money to be spent at centers who give people like her a second chance. Aaronette Noble of O’Fallon smoked her first marijuana at age 7; took her first drink at 14, started using meth and cocaine at 17. She has spent time in prison for making meth, lost custody of her child born with drugs in its system. She has been clean for 19 months and is a technician in the residential treatment center that straightened her out. She says the demand for services at the center every day is far beyond the center’s ability to provide and some people wind up waiting four to six weeks to get in. She says she had to tell the mother of an addicted son there would not be room for him for weeks. She says she can “only imagine” how that mother felt to hear that help would be available but not for weeks. She says four to six weeks is a lifetime for an addict who is “using” every day. She says more beds and more counselors would mean fewer laws being broken, fewer children in foster care, fewer families being torn apart, and more lives being saved. She says the center where she works gets 100 to 150 calls a day from people seeking help. But it has only 76 beds, and only about one-third of those beds is state funded. The Senate Appropriations Committee has been told treatment is a better prescription for addiction than prison and that savings in the costs of healthcare, workers comp injury claims, and employee turnover and training will more than offset the costs of treating addicts. The committee is taking testimony from interested citizens about various state programs. It won’t start work on budget bills, which have to pass the House of Representatives first, for several weeks.
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