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
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.