Prescription for Wellness




What Are Substance Use Disorders?

Cross-Cutting Issues

Substance Abuse Prevention

Substance Abuse Treatment



Substance abuse in Travis County is a critical public health problem that affects the young and elderly, rich and poor, educated and uneducated, and professional and blue-collar workers. Identified by a recent health forum as a root cause of many community concerns, substance abuse is a recurring theme in the Community Action Network health and human service issue areas. Substance abuse imposes high costs on individuals, families, employers, tax payers, and society, and continues to be a primary factor contributing to crime, reduced workforce productivity, and human suffering and loss.

"Travis County will reduce substance abuse and its impact on the community."

-Community Action Network Vision Statement

Legislators, community members, policymakers, and providers of services are being called upon to recognize the far-reaching impact of substance abuse and dependence on our community. As Travis County's population continues to grow, shortage of funding for substance abuse has become critical, and reduced prevention and treatment services threaten to severely limit the opportunities we have to "reduce substance abuse and its impact on the community" (Community Action Network [C.A.N.], 1997, p.105).

Some positive elements do exist. Current prevention and treatment services do work and are reducing some of the overall human and economic impacts of substance abuse on Travis County. Best Practice criteria are available and when incorporated into our service system, ensure accountability, efficiency, and effectiveness of services. The City of Austin and Travis County have piloted a health care delivery system designed to increase access and quality of behavioral health care services while maintaining cost effectiveness. This approach ensures consistent performance measures across providers and increases accountability, decreases administrative overhead, and emphasizes best practices.

Our community has not lost the battle against substance abuse, but we are struggling. It is imperative that strong steps be taken as quickly as possible to identify the critical gaps, educate the community, and stimulate the financial and human investments necessary to shift the trend from loss to gain. This report provides some of the basics for that movement.

"Drug abuse remains the number one health problem in the US."

-Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (Hendry, 2001)

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