It is difficult to measure the true impact produced by the substance abuse treatment services provided at Bridge House / Grace House. Consider the negative effects that substance abuse has on so many of our citizens, not only those who are engaged in or fighting addiction themselves, but the collateral effects that these individuals have on crime, health, housing, families, education and overall economic development. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, alcohol and other drug treatment is cost effective. Each $1 invested in treatment equals $4 to $7 in savings on crime and criminal justice costs alone.
In 2008 Richard Webster of New Orleans City Business published the following:
Crime, especially murder related to substance abuse, is an issue which is foremost in the minds of all people in our region. One dimension of the criminal angle to substance abuse often overlooked, however, is the sheer financial burden which it places upon our community. An article in the local publication New Orleans City Business described a 2008 shooting in which one person was murdered and two others critically injured as “…one act of violence” which “triggered a chain reaction that will play out over the course of years and potentially decades if the murderer is ever captured, convicted and incarcerated. The public resources poured into caring for the injured and prosecuting the guilty would cost Louisiana taxpayers millions of dollars. ‘It’s something people may not think about…’ said Bobby Freeman, chief of the NOPD’s Violent Offender Unit. ‘But it affects all of us. It’s easy to say; OK geographically it’s away from me. But financially, it’s at your back door.’ Criminal justice officials say the public pays for each of these senseless killings. They support preventative measures — educational, vocational and substance abuse programs — as the most effective ways to put an end to the bloodshed.”
Although this is from 2008, unfortunately the story has not changed. The consequences are far reaching indeed. When an individual enters into a life of recovery he then becomes a force for positive not only in his/or/her own life, but a positive impact for the conditions surrounding his life as well.
The city and the region have been heavily impacted by life-changing events such as Katrina and the BP Oil Spill. These along with economic downturns are, unfortunately, events that create or perpetuate the cycle of addiction. For those who seek treatment, new skills are learned to deal with both historic and current emotional stressors that formerly seemed only relieved by mood-altering substances.
Bridge House / Grace House targets individuals who would not otherwise be able to access treatment. Our target populations are those individuals who are homeless, indigent and/or uninsured. 75% of the men served and 54% of the women served in 2010 met the criteria of homelessness.
According to the 2011 Homelessness in Greater New Orleans publication by Unity of Greater New Orleans:
Homelessness remains a daunting problem in New Orleans and Jefferson Parish, 5 1/2 years after the nation’s largest housing disaster when the levees failed following Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. Despite the fact that the city of New Orleans has only about 80% of its pre-Katrina population, 9,165 persons now meet the HUD definition of homelessness on any given day in Orleans and Jefferson parishes, compared to 5,360 in 2005 prior to Katrina, according to the Point in Time Comprehensive Estimate. http://unitygno.org/news/publications/
Although not specifically cited in the Unity study, there are numerous contributors to the onset of homelessness and substance abuse issues rank high as a predictor of housing issues that often result in homelessness.
Perhaps the most effective way to demonstrate how Bridge House / Grace House contributes to reducing the multiple negative personal and societal effects of substance abuse is to share the following outcomes information with you:
Bridge House Men’s Program
Criminality: 90% of those surveyed reported committing drug & alcohol related crimes before Bridge House; after Bridge House, 97% reported no criminal activity;
Job Losses: At entry to Bridge House, 100% unemployment; afterwards 87% full employment;
Housing: 79% in jail or homeless upon intake to Bridge House; 72% living independently after exit;
Grace House Women’s Program
Criminality: 85% reported committing drug & alcohol related crimes before Grace House; afterwards 95% reported no criminal activity;
Job Losses: 100% unemployment upon entry– afterwards 90% full employment;
Housing: pre-treatment, 95% homeless or living dependently (with relatives or friends). Afterwards, 60% independent.