Pubdate: Thu, 29 May 2003
Source: Courier-Journal, The (KY)
Copyright: 2003 The Courier-Journal
Author: Javacia N. Harris, AP
Bookmark: (Treatment)


John P. Walters, director of National Drug Control Policy, discussed a new
plan today to expand and improve the nation's substance abuse treatment

Walters gave details of President Bush's "Access to Recovery" treatment
initiative which will create a voucher program to provide people with drug
or alcohol dependencies with better treatment options and treatment centers
with more resources.

Walters, who spoke at Louisville's Volunteers of America center, said he
came to Kentucky to discuss this national effort because of the drug
problems facing this region.

"I know from the national data that we have that this area of the country
has particularly and disproportionately been affected by substance abuse,"
Walters said. In 2001, 1,560 people entered Louisville-area emergency rooms
for drug-related incidents and 2,124 people were participating in
Louisville-area drug treatment programs.

"I know that the disproportionate effect here has caused a strain, but it
has also obviously caused the creation of some remarkable institutions. We
are aware that these institutions are under strain," Walters said, adding
that this strain is what led the federal government to create the new

With the Access to Recovery program, people suffering from substance abuse
will be given vouchers that will allow them to receive the treatment they
need at a center participating in the program. States will be able to
receive grant money and get their centers involved by submitting proposals.

The $600 million for the program would be used to reimburse participating
centers for treating patients with vouchers.

To ensure that only effective treatment centers are a part of the program,
Walters said the centers would be evaluated and those not adequately helping
patients would not receive reimbursement.

Walters said Congress knows that most of America's treatment programs are
successful and that the challenge is to make the programs available to more
people. "We need to save more lives as soon as possible," he said.

U.S. Rep. Anne Northup, R-Ky., joined Walters in support of the program

Money for the initiative would also be used to create more centers in areas
lacking adequate treatment options such as rural communities.

More prevention programs, especially in schools, would also be funded
through the program. Walters said that 23 percent of the people in the
country dependent on illegal drugs are teenagers.

Approximately 55 percent of Kentucky high school seniors surveyed in 2001
reported using marijuana at least once during their lifetimes.

Walters said the Access to Recovery program will help progress Bush's plan
to increase substance abuse treatment funding by $1.6 billion over the next
five years.

Press Secretary Jennifer de Vallance said if the plan is approved by the
federal appropriations committee this fall the program could begin in early
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