TAHLEQUAH — Bill Willis Community Mental Health Center in Tahlequah still provides outpatient services for 2,000 people but closed its 20-bed men’s substance abuse program in January to save $1.2 million. Now, Executive Director Margaret Bradford said they’ve just been told to trim $300,000.
"It has had a severe impact in our community,” Bradford said. "That program was usually at capacity at all times and had a waiting list of between 40 and 60 at any given time.”
She said northeast Oklahoma’s only state-operated residential treatment program for men served Wagoner, Adair, Cherokee and Sequoyah counties.
"Many of these people were fairly severe in their addiction. Oftentimes we were a last resort to help them. I strongly believe without this type of treatment you’re going to see more and more people end up in the criminal justice system,” Bradford said.
She said there’s a risk of people using drugs illegally and going to prison, ultimately costing the state more money than the 30 to 60 day treatment at $120 per day.
Bradford said they often must refer male substance abusers to the state-operated program in Woodward five-plus hours away. Those who can pay don’t have to drive as far — about 90 minutes to services in Tulsa, she said.
Know it: Addiction