Rep. Wray’s Raleigh report

Substance abuse has touched everyone’s life in one way or another and in the legislature we have tried to find ways to improve treatment for people who cannot afford private recovery services.

Over the past two sessions, we have made changes in these programs that allow more efficient use of state money and set up a study group that continues to examine issues surrounding substance abuse services in North Carolina.

We have also expanded substance abuse treatment programs for our inmates in our attempt to reduce the numbers of people who return to prison. A recent study in Iowa found that up to 90 percent of the inmates there had a history of drug and/or alcohol abuse and that treatment programs in prison lowered the chances of recidivism. Another study found that prisoners in California who participated in substance abuse treatment had a recidivism rate of 27 percent, compared to a rate of 76 percent for other prisoners.

I have some additional information about some of our substance abuse treatment initiatives below. Thank you for allowing me to share this information with you, and please let me know if you have questions or if I can provide any additional information.
Regional programs

The General Assembly has restructured the way the state funds and provides substance abuse programs. Previously, the state had divided the money among the 24 local groups that provide substance abuse and mental health services. Sometimes, the groups could not use the money because it was not enough for the services they needed and could not be used for anything other than substance abuse treatment. A change in the law last year required that the state use at least $8 million over the next two fiscal years for regional substance abuse services. The local groups can now pool their money to buy services that they could not afford on their own. The General Assembly has given the program $12 million over the past two years.

Task Force

The General Assembly also created a task force within the North Carolina Institute of Medicine to study substance abuse services in North Carolina. Among other items, the task force is required to:

  • Identify models of care or promising practices for the prevention and treatment of substance abuse and develop recommendations to incorporate these models into the substance abuse service system of care.
  • Examine different financing options to pay for substance abuse services at the local, regional and state levels.
  • Examine the adequacy of the current and future substance abuse workforce.
  • Develop strategies to identify people in need of substance abuse services, including people who have both mental health and substance abuse problems.
  • Examine barriers that people with substance abuse problems have in accessing publicly funded substance abuse services and explore possible strategies for improving access.
  • Examine the economic impact of substance abuse in North Carolina.
  • The task force issued a preliminary report and is required to issue a final report by the end of this year.

    Prison Programs

    The General Assembly has spent about $3.4 million over the past two years to start a 50-bed substance abuse treatment program for female parolees and probationers. The program at the Black Mountain Correctional Center for Women offers 28-day and 90-day programs, allowing 300-360 women a year to receive treatment. Demand for the service is estimated at 4,725 women a year.

    The legislature has appropriated $480,000 to add 10 bed spaces for male inmates receiving intensive treatment for alcohol abuse and addiction.


    I plan to attend the following meetings/events:

  • Warren County High School, America’s Legislators Back to School Program, Warrenton-September 29
  • NAIFA Luncheon, Ralph’s BBQ-Weldon, September 30
  • Regional Business After Hours, Four Chambers of Commerce, Lakeland Theatre September 30
  • Carver Elementary School, America’s Legislators Back to School Program, Henderson-October 1
  • 2008 Rural Partners Forum, Raleigh-October 2-3
  • Lake Gaston Seafood Festival-October 4
  • Please invite me to attend your county, city, community or civic, etc. meetings or events.

    As I’ve said many times before, I hope you will continue to let me know how you feel about the issues that are being debated by the North Carolina Legislature and the challenges you and your family are facing each day.

    By working together, we can make Northampton, Vance and Warren Counties and all regions of North Carolina a better place to live, work and raise a family.

    Please remember that you can visit the General Assembly’s website to look up bills, view lawmaker biographies and access other information.