Norman Prevention, Treatment Facility Could Shut Down
By Jon Jordan, NEWS 9
NORMAN, Oklahoma -- A state run mental health and substance abuse treatment facility may be forced to close its doors in the midst of the state budget crisis.
With an already tight budget, the mental health department may have to trim even more and that would mean consolidating the Norman Alcohol Drug and Treatment Center.
The facility is really one-of-a-kind because they help people suffering from both mental health problems and substance abuse problems, people who now could lose the help they so desperately need.
"I'd either be probably dead. I'd probably be in prison, I'd probably be living on the streets," said Steve, a former patient.
Fortunately for Steve that life never played out because two years ago he came to the Norman Alcohol and Drug Treatment Center, which he credits for saving his life.
"It gave me the opportunity to get my health back. It gave me the opportunity to start getting, you know, my mind settled down," Steve said.
But with the state in the middle of a budget crisis and cuts to the mental health department, the NADTC will be forced to go.
"This is about prevention as much as treatment. This is preventing bad situations from occurring in our society," said Bonnie Dunn, the Executive Director of Transition House.
The Transition House partners with NADTC and if the center goes, so does the help for hundreds of people suffering from mental health and substance abuse problems.
"You see the news stories where so and so has had a mental illness and acts out in a way that people are appalled and someone says ‘Well why hasn't that person been treated?' Well, this is why," Dunn said.
Dunn's concerns go beyond just the patients suffering from drug and alcohol abuse problems, but all of society who will be impacted by the center's closing.
"To think it can just be re-opened, that's not a possibility. You can't reopen that type of work that quickly," Dunn said.
There is no official date on when the center would close but if nothing changes, it would close by the end of January.
Some lawmakers have called for a December special session to address the budget crisis, but Governor Henry said he would like to see lawmakers reconvene early in January.