Letter: Treatment counters despair

As executive director of the Alaska Addiction Professionals Association, I support funding to behavioral health and substance abuse treatment services. I oppose the House Finance Committee’s proposed cut of more than $8.3 million. Experience shows that lives change and communities benefit from a comprehensive system of behavioral health and substance abuse treatment.

I see obituaries of young people that simply read, “died at home.” I wonder how many of them are like people I know who died at their own hand by suicide or overdose fueled by mental illness or substance abuse left untreated. Proposed cuts come at a time when programs are struggling to meet demand. The problem of prescription opiate abuse continues to grow. People are turning to illicitly obtained opiates, including heroin.

When treatment isn’t available, people do not get healthy. Left untreated, people live in despair and hopelessness with only jails, institutions or death as their available options. These options are more costly to our state than any savings we might see by cutting $8.3 million.

— Anna Sappah, 

executive director,

 Alaska Addiction Professionals Association