x
Breaking News
More () »

A recovery center's plea for help amid budget cuts

Addiction recovery centers across the state of Georgia could soon be shutdown, if a proposed budget cut is successful.

CUMMING, Ga. — The Connection Forsyth is one of 16 Recovery Community Organizations (RCOs) in Georgia whose funding is being threatened by a proposed budget cut. Bill Whitney, the executive director of The Connection, said this would have a significant impact on the estimated 800,000 Georgians currently recovering from drug and alcohol abuse.

“What we do works, and our impact on the budget is miniscule,” he said. “$4 million keeps 16 centers around the state open each year. If we cut all of these people loose, they're going to end up in the emergency rooms. And, by the way, you know who pays the bill in emergency room care? The state of Georgia. If you don't spend the $4 million now, you're going to spend $40 million next year. It doesn't make sense. But, at the end of the day, we're talking about families. We're talking about human beings. We're talking about human lives.”

Whitney said there’s been a drastic increase in opioid overdoses, since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. The situation will only get worse, he said, if support centers like The Connection lose funding.

“If people don't get to come to a place where they feel safe being sober and being clean, then they're stuck in the places that trigger them to use,” Whitney said. “If they don't have a place to come and be out of the circumstances that trigger them, ultimately they are doomed. Addiction is very real. It's a medical condition. Every doctor in America knows it, the CDC knows it, the state of Georgia knows it.”

An online petition that was started last week already has more than 20,000 signatures, but Whitney said it will take more than that to stop the proposed budget cut.

“I implore people, reach out to your congressperson, reach out to your representatives, reach out to your legislators, reach out to your county commissioners, get the word to the governors door,” he said. “Yes, you have to cut the budget. Yes, you have to balance the budget, but the human cost of this particular cut is going to be exponentially greater down the road. You're going to pay this bill in a way you don't want to. Families are going to be ruined, communities are going to be ruined, jails are going to get filled up, and we're going to be right back where we started. The country has made extraordinary strides. The state of Georgia has been a national model for the success of the Recovery Community Organizations and Addiction Recovery Support Centers. To pull the rug out from under that now would be a moral crime.”

To sign the petition, or to learn more about the ongoing efforts of The Connection Forsyth, CLICK HERE.

Want more Cumming news? Follow us on Facebook.

RELATED:

Nearly 1,000 people protest peacefully in downtown Cumming

Home décor, unique gifts and design shop expands in Forsyth County

The art of making ink pens