Pubdate: Wed, 29 Dec 2004
Source: Messenger-Inquirer (KY)
Copyright: 2004 Messenger-Inquirer
Author: J.D. Meyer
Note: J.D. Meyer is an Owensboro attorney and a board member for Community 
Solutions for Substance Abuse and Lighthouse Recovery Services.


The Kentucky Housing Corporation recently announced an initiative 
throughout the state that may provide substantial substance abuse treatment 
for the Owensboro/Daviess County region. Representatives from the KHC 
presented this plan to a group of Owensboro treatment providers in late 
November. It calls for construction of 12 homeless shelters throughout the 
state and is one of the first major steps to implementing Gov. Ernie 
Fletcher's plans to address issues of substance abuse in the commonwealth.

However, these are not your run-of-the-mill shelters designed to feed and 
house the homeless. The programs offered in the shelters seek to address 
one of the major causes of the individual's homelessness -- drug and 
alcohol abuse. This program utilizes the recovery dynamics theory to 
overcome an individual's addiction. This theory centers on a peer-to-peer 
recovery system, which utilizes a system of mentoring and monitoring 
substance abusers. Individuals participating in the program actually mentor 
other individuals who are just beginning the recovery process. The 
participants typically utilize Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous 
as a component of their recovery.

This program is not a new concept. The KHC closely modeled its concept 
after the Healing Place of Louisville and the Hope Center in Lexington. 
Both programs maintain proven track records to assist people through their 
addiction. The Healing Place indicates that of those who completed their 
program, 65 percent remain drug and alcohol free for one year or more. The 
Healing Place maintains over 1,400 alumni.

The substance abuse treatment providers, led by Community Solutions for 
Substance Abuse, identified the need for such a shelter. Owensboro would 
greatly benefit from such a program, as law enforcement frequently 
maintains no choice but to arrest the homeless addict. This ultimately 
leads to an increase in taxpayer costs to fund the jail. The mayor, county 
judge-executive and jailer all point to the rising costs associated with 
our community's substance abuse problem. State statistics show that 60 
percent of inmates are addicted to drugs or alcohol, while 85 percent abuse 
drugs or alcohol. Jailer David Osborne cited similar statistics concerning 
the Daviess County Detention Center in statements announcing the GOALS 
program, the jail's substance abuse treatment program.

Owensboro/Daviess County and the area substance abuse treatment providers 
must join together to develop a common effort to seek funding for one of 
these shelters. It is only through a unified effort that we will be able to 
obtain these goals. Through the efforts of Community Solutions, our 
community has made great strides to join together and collaborate resources 
to fill the gaps in substance abuse education, prevention and treatment. 
The recent development of the Lifeboat, and its efforts to create a 
non-medical detoxification unit for addicts, raised concerns among some in 
the substance abuse community. The Lifeboat proposal appears to be modeled 
closely after the nonmedical detoxification facility component of The 
Healing Place and the Hope Center. This would allow a sobering-up center 
for addicts but would not supply the other recovery dynamics components of 
the model. The Lifeboat was developed in the weeks prior to KHC's 
announcement of its plans. The concept closely resembles components of the 
proposal submitted by Community Solutions for the city and county Wellness 
Initiative, a distribution of money representing the community's ownership 
interest in the hospital. Community Solutions' proposal failed to receive 
funding as concerns arose that it presented a duplication in services. That 
same question, along with many others, surfaced as the Lifeboat and its 
plans became public.

The concern is not whether such a program is needed in the community, but 
whether a new nonprofit corporation is needed. Is there an existing agency 
that already provides these services? Is there an existing agency that 
provides some of these services which could expand to conform to the KHC's 
model shelter?

Lighthouse Recovery Services Inc. is a local nonprofit entity providing 
peer-to-peer mentoring and monitoring in a Christian environment to those 
recovering from substance abuse. Lighthouse utilizes the recovery dynamics 
concepts in its program. The local District Court judges frequently utilize 
Lighthouse Recovery to provide a form of "drug court" or alternative 
sentencing for criminal defendants of the court system. In fact, Lighthouse 
maintains several employees who are graduates of The Healing Place in 
Louisville. Would Lighthouse be willing to expand its services to fit the 
model the KHC seeks to implement?

These questions must be asked and answered. No one individual or group 
possesses the answer to our substance abuse problems. If an entity works 
alone with its own individual goals and initiatives nothing will be 
accomplished. However, if the community comes together as a unit, we will 
make great strides and accomplish many more objectives than those we 
initially set out to achieve.

The proposal for a homeless program focused on addressing substance abuse 
was presented once in our community and was shot down because the community 
acted individually. It appears Owensboro/Daviess County has another 
opportunity for such a homeless shelter. We must present a unified proposal 
or face a similar outcome.
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MAP posted-by: Beth