Mental illness, drug abuse costs Oklahomans billions of tax dollars

By Sonya Colberg

Mental Health Tax Costs HighA somber group settled down seven years ago to consider why substance abuse and two hush-hush subjects consume thousands of Oklahomans’ lives and billions of taxpayers’ dollars.

Many members of the Oklahoma Governor’s and Attorney General’s Blue Ribbon Task Force had personally seen the tragedies of untreated substance abuse, mental illness and domestic violence. The group of 15 hung on to the hope that, over about a year, they would come up with recommendations to save Oklahoma lives and money.

A team of nine researchers β€” the principal investigator jokingly called his team high-priced accountants on a $200,000 contract β€” plunked down their shocking research before the Task Force.

β€œIt was a crisis then. I’d say it’s a crisis level now,” said state Health Secretary Terry Cline, a task force member.

Drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness and domestic violence cost the state $3.4 billion in 2005, the report showed.

Full story at NewsOK

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Will Savage

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