Pubdate: Tue, 31 May 2005
Source: Messenger-Inquirer (KY)
Copyright: 2005 Messenger-Inquirer
Author: Ryan Garrett and David Blackburn
Bookmark: (Drug Courts)
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)
Bookmark: (Treatment)
Bookmark: (Youth)


Struggle For Answers Continue

Numerous agencies in Daviess County can detail a wide range of efforts to 
address substance abuse at the prevention, treatment and recovery stages.

Local law enforcement has made combating drugs -- particularly 
methamphetamine -- a top priority.

And city and county governments have provided funding for programs they 
hoped would reduce a problem whose impact is felt throughout the community.

Despite these efforts, most involved in the fight against substance abuse 
admit the problem is not getting much better. And that lack of progress has 
led to frustration.

Earlier this month, it boiled over in Judge-Executive Reid Haire, who said 
"nobody has answers" when it comes to reducing substance abuse.

"For 40 years ... organizations have come out and said, 'We have a better 
mousetrap,' " Haire said while addressing members of Community Solutions 
for Substance Abuse.

"You don't have answers. Nobody has answers," he said. "If we had answers, 
we wouldn't have a problem."

Haire said last week that he regrets that comment. But his frustration 
underscores the challenge that treatment providers, prevention specialists, 
recovery professionals, law enforcement agencies and government officials 
face in addressing substance abuse in the coming months and years.

To help meet those challenges, Haire is tossing out a plan to bring elected 
officials and law enforcement professionals from several counties together 
with some area treatment agencies to develop a multifaceted substance abuse 

Haire wants the group to create a communitywide initiative considering law 
enforcement, local ordinances, education and rehabilitation.

"We deal with the results of the problem," Haire said. "We give 
organizations money to deal with the results of the drug. Perhaps 
government needs to work on the supply and demand however we can.

"We need to have a greater role other than giving money to law enforcement 
and other agencies to deal with this problem. The community working 
together could have a real impact if our focus was clear and we knew 
exactly that we want to stamp out the methamphetamine problem that has 
galvanized our community."

Daviess County Sheriff Keith Cain said he would like to have a significant 
role in such a group.

"I think it's time now that we come together again and look at the 
successes, and equally as important look at what hasn't worked and what we 
need to do there," Cain said during a telephone interview Wednesday. He was 
in Tampa, Fla., to talk to law enforcement agencies about methamphetamine.

Many communities and law enforcement professionals say the problem is so 
overwhelming there's nothing to be done, Cain said.

"I don't believe that," he said. "There's too many people's lives that are 
at stake for us to do that."

The catch is that at least two groups have been asked to develop 
comprehensive plans since 2001.

One of them, Community Solutions for Substance Abuse, was asked by city and 
county officials to do so in 2002.

Ideally, a coalition would put into action a plan formed in 2002 -- and 
updated this month -- by the state-mandated local Agency for Substance 
Abuse Policy, said Debbie Zuerner Johnson, executive director of Community 

"In Owensboro, it's worked the opposite," she said. That happened because 
of local and state uncertainty about budget concerns and the ASAP program's 
status after a new governor took office, she said.

Both factors slowed the local ASAP board's understanding of its role, said 
Zuerner Johnson, an ASAP board member who helped form its strategic plan.

ASAP was formed in 2001 through the Governor's Office of Drug Control 
Policy to detect gaps in substance abuse services. The agency was also 
supposed to find grants and identify what is being done well and any 

ASAP updates its strategic plan annually, but has been weak in publicizing 
it, said secretary Gary Hall, a senior director of RiverValley Behavioral 
Health's Regional Prevention Center.

"We've not been promoting the plan, per se," Hall said.

Many agencies are not aware of others' work, often because they are 
concentrating on their own, Hall said. "We haven't been an advocacy group 
as much as we need to be."

Mayor Tom Watson said the community needs a comprehensive plan on the table 
before the city will get more involved in battling substance abuse.

"I'd just like to see all the stakeholders get together in a room and try 
to come up with a comprehensive plan to attack the problem rather than just 
have this group doing this and this group doing that," Watson said.

Community Solutions has not done that, he said.

"If they did, they would have so much support from everybody they wouldn't 
have to be coming to Fiscal Court and to City Hall to try to keep them 
operational," Watson said. "All of these groups would be finding a way to 
keep them in business.

"Someone needs to coordinate this entire effort so it's not piecemeal."

Some agencies aren't waiting for a comprehensive plan to determine their 
next moves.

Boulware Mission Inc., the area's oldest homeless shelter at more than 80 
years, is planning to move to the former Passionist monastery on Benita 
Avenue. The move would allow Boulware Mission to serve about 90 residents, 
up from about 40, and expand its substance abuse treatment to nonresidents.

The move won't come without a price -- Boulware expects its annual budget 
of $750,000 to jump to $1.6 million -- but it will also likely come with 

Boulware plans to give its Hall Street facility to recent upstart Lifeboat 
Inc., to be used as a nonmedical detoxification facility for those who are 
not in any rehabilitation programs.

Also, Lighthouse Recovery Inc., is trying to bring a 100-bed "Recovery 
Kentucky" homeless shelter and substance abuse treatment facility to Owensboro.

But neighbors are challenging the Board of Adjustment's decision to let 
Boulware move to the former monastery, and Lighthouse Recovery's plan has 
also been opposed by neighbors of at least one proposed site.

That has Lifeboat in limbo.

"We're just waiting to see what course they're going to take," said Russ 
Lewis, Lifeboat spokesman and board member. "We don't want to duplicate any 
services. We might just end up being an overflow agency" for Boulware and 
Lighthouse Recovery.

Officials with Daviess County Drug Court and the Daviess County Detention 
Center want to expand their substance abuse treatment services.

Drug court treatment coordinator Lora McCarty said a larger staff could 
serve more offenders.

"I've been here five years, and I just think it's the best alternative we 
have to incarcerating nonviolent offenders with substance abuse problems. 
It just makes sense," McCarty said. "They're still living at home, they're 
taking care of their families. That just leads to them being empowered and 
having a drug-free lifestyle."

The Goebel Offenders' Addiction Life Solutions program could treat more 
than its current capacity of about 25 inmates at the detention center if 
resources were available, Jailer David Osborne said.

"We've got plenty we could treat if we had the opportunity -- the money and 
the space," he said. "It would sure save a lot of money in the long haul."

Regardless of any possible expansion, GOALS coordinator Donna Nolan says 
the program's future is in the children of its participants.

As a case worker in Colorado, Nolan saw many children victimized by the 
actions of their parents. Parents would go to jail and children would move 
in with relatives, Nolan said. When parents were released, the children 
would move back, only to be back in the same boat a few months later.

"I decided at that point if we didn't help the perpetrator, the children 
were going to get hurt over and over and over," Nolan said. "We were just 
creating more victims."
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