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State to lose key grant to help fight addictions

INDIANAPOLIS – A program that has helped more than 11,000 Indiana residents fight drug addiction since 2010 will lose its funding at the end of the year, and agencies fear the effect on clients and employees.

The state has received $3.3 million through the Access to Recovery federal grant in the last four years. The program focuses on people battling poverty, military veterans and those in the criminal justice system.

Marni Lemons, spokeswoman for the Family and Social Services Administration, told The Indianapolis Star (http://indy.st/1ocr39F ) that Congress slashed funding for the program. This year, only six states received money, compared with 30 states and Native American tribes in the last grant cycle.

Lemons said FSSA officials have communicated with nonprofits that rely on the money in Marion and 10 other counties since they first heard Congress had cut funding for the program. She said FSSA is trying to find money to keep the program running, even if it’s at a reduced level.

Nonprofit leaders said even $500 per client would help them stop relapses and save lives. They’ve formed a coalition to try to energize volunteers and donors and raise money for the program, which Shelia Williamson, founder of Community Outreach Network Services, says is essential.

“In all the years I’ve been doing this, it has been one of the best programs in helping those who want to make a change but don’t know how,” said Williamson, whose organization uses the Access to Recovery money to pair clients with the services they need.

Community Outreach Network Services acts as a bridge between people who want to overcome addiction and the treatment and services that ultimately get them there, Williamson said.

Nathan Rush, executive director of Bethlehem House, said both clients and employees – many of whom will lose their jobs – will feel the effects of the cuts.

“We don’t know what we’re going to do,” he said.

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