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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Minnesota Cuts Drug and Alcohol Counseling for Schools

The most important time to talk to people about drug and alcohol abuse is during their teen years. High school is a boiling pot of peer pressure that can drive kids to make choices that can dramatically affect the course of one's life. While parents are typically responsible for talking to their kids about the dangers of alcohol, the burden also falls on trained professionals hired by the states to talk to kids in public schools about substance abuse as well as aid those already suffering. The role of drug and alcohol counselors is crucial in the quest to do all that we can to prevent teenage substance abuse. Unfortunately, not everyone sees the importance of such a role, hence the severe funding cuts that have been happening nationwide.

One such state that has seen financial slashing in the field of counseling is Minnesota and according to The St. Paul Pioneer Press, some school administrators view drug and alcohol programs as luxuries that they can no longer afford. It was pointed out by Martha Harding, of a well renowned drug and alcohol treatment organization, to the newspaper that alcohol and drug counselors hired by Minnesota schools in the mid-1990s played a big part in lowering rates of teen alcohol and drug use. If grant funding continues to be slashed, she says she is concerned that as school programs disappear, some of the progress made over the last fifteen years will be lost.

While public funding goes down the drain there has been an increase in private drug and alcohol counselors, the article reports. The Minnesota Board of Behavioral Health and Therapy says there are about 2,280 licensed alcohol and drug counselors in the state, an increase of more than 50 percent from five years ago. Roy Kammer, Coordinator of Alcohol and Drug Studies at Minnesota State University-Mankato, told the newspaper that treatment centers are a more appealing option than schools, which offer less pay and stability.

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