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Charity stops women’s rehab services

The local Salvation Army has suspended its inpatient addiction rehabilitation services for women, citing tough economic times.

“We have more people coming to us than ever before, and less resources,” Charles Desiderio, a spokesman for the agency, said Tuesday. “I don’t know what other options there are.”

The program that provides substance abuse and gambling addiction treatment services to about 1,600 men and women annually has been operating in the red for years. Its deficit added up to about $2 million over the past five years, Desiderio said.

About a quarter of those who enroll in the agency’s 35-year-old adult rehabilitation program are women, he said. Services for men will continue.

Increased expenses, a slowdown in thrift store sales and cuts in government grants have contributed to budget woes at the agency.

“When you start adding it all together, the losses are huge,” Desiderio said.

The Salvation Army’s adult rehabilitation program provides free addiction services to those who cannot afford to pay, including the homeless. People generally stay five or six months for treatment.

The agency has stopped accepting women into the program. Six women currently enrolled will be allowed to stay until they graduate from the program, Desiderio said.

The Salvation Army hopes to resurrect the program for women in better times.

Options for poor or homeless addicts were already limited before the Salvation Army’s decision.

“We’re one of the few agencies left,” said Kirby Burgess, vice president of WestCare, which operates its own addiction treatment program.

WestCare will try to fill the gap left by the Salvation Army’s decision, he said. But its beds are usually full, and there is a waiting list of up to six months.

“We try to take these folks as early and as quick as we can,” Burgess said. “But if we don’t have space for them, these are folks who could end up on the street, in a hospital emergency room or in jail.”

WestCare might be able to offer increased outpatient counseling until beds open up, he said.

But, like other local charities, the agency is struggling to meet increased demand through difficult economic times.

“Needs have expanded,” Burgess said. “Given the economy, we’re starting to see more folks who need services. But like everybody else, we’ve had to tighten our belts.”

The agency had to lay off dozens of people last year.

The Salvation Army earlier this year announced it no longer would provide free inpatient addiction rehabilitation services to people referred there by the Clark County District Court system as a condition of their parole or probation.

The agency said tough economic factors were also to blame in that decision.

Contact reporter Lynnette Curtis at lcurtis@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0285.

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