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Budget Shortfalls Could Lead to Outpatient Therapy in Oklahoma - KOAM TV 7

Budget Shortfalls Could Lead to Outpatient Therapy in Oklahoma

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MIAMI, OKLAHOMA -

Nicole and Sam Ervin are a happy and healthy couple looking forward to their family's future. But that hasn't always been their reality.

"I was so involved in the drug itself..I couldn't stop" says Nicole.

The Ervins were convicted for manufacturing meth and child endangerment.

"We ended up in drug court and it literally saved the lives of me my husband, my 6 kids"

Jason Ishamael is the Ottawa County Drug Court Coordinator. "We take people with serious drug and alcohol addictions, hopefully take them out of the criminal justice system and get them the treatment and supervision they need" says Ishmael.

The Ervins are part of the 80 percent drug court program completion rate in Ottawa County. A program that could be in danger if the state's mental health and substance abuse department isn't able to come up with the revenue.

The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services is short 75 million dollars in their budget  after the state supreme court overturned a cigarette tax.  And one of the program that could be on the chopping block is state funded outpatient programs.

"As far as saving money for the state, it's asinine to think that cutting this program that costs around 5 thousand dollars for an offender to treat them and deal with them rather than 16 thousand dollars to incarcerate them" says Ishmael.

The drug court coordinator and district attorney don't find it likely that the cuts will actually happen. But if it does, it's unclear what would happen to addicts seeking treatment.

"If what is being threatened actually came to light..it would be horrible. And I couldn't speculate what would happen. Because we've never gotten to that point" says Ishmael.

As the Ervins raise their kids and look forward to their first grandchild, Nicole leaves us with her advice.

"No mistake is ever too big and you can always find help. Always. You just have to want it"

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