Pubdate: Mon, 08 Apr 2002
Source: Beacon Journal, The (OH)
Copyright: 2002 The Beacon Journal Publishing Co.
Author: Judy Richardson


Akron has problems of epidemic proportions with drug abuse, but a lot
of the abuse is preceded by mental health problems. Not every drug
addict is a criminal. Not everyone is doing drugs to get ``high.''
Some are using numbing drugs to stop the voices they hear in their
heads or the rapid mood swings, or to keep the deep depression from
becoming debilitating. Often these people end up in our criminal
system and are considered felons forever.

We do have treatment centers already in place, but we need to take a
serious look at our success rate. Often, a small change within a
system can make a huge, positive difference in the outcome of each
client's time spent there.

The fact that we even have a mental health/drug court today is to be
commended, but often it merely sends someone for treatment and closes
its eyes to what has to be done to get the help most people in the
system need.

Mandatory counseling is good, but it cannot even scratch the surface
in most cases. Staffs are often overworked and are fortunate to even
have time for the mandatory counseling. The need for more help in
these areas is immediate. We have many good people working in these
programs, and we need to give these people the time to work with those
who want out of the lifestyle that brought them to this place in time.

We have buildings that house criminals, and we can keep them filled to
capacity. Or we can pay more attention to the people we house there
and give a larger percentage a success story to tell.

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