Pubdate: Tue, 27 Mar 2007
Source: Asheville Citizen-Times (NC)
Copyright: 2007 Asheville Citizen-Times
Author: Jordan Schrader
Bookmark: (Treatment)


ASHEVILLE -- The lawmakers' response wasn't quite, "Help is on the 
way." Instead, they asked leaders pleading for help treating Buncombe 
County's drug addicts to arm them with data, pick their top 
priorities and wait for lawmakers to get more money for what Sen. 
Martin Nesbitt called a "dysfunctional" state mental health system.

Treatment providers and local government officials on the 
Asheville-Buncombe Drug Commission set out their problems and 
potential solutions Monday to Nesbitt and three state representatives.

They asked that local agencies be reimbursed for long-term help for 
drug abusers after the most intensive treatment ends.

"It's not the stopping that's hard," said Dr. Paul Martin, a 
physician specializing in addiction. "It's the staying stopped." 
Among the other goals of the commission chaired by City Councilman 
Carl Mumpower: A 24-hour, one-stop shop to assess drug users in 
crisis. Case managers to track clients.

A way agencies can share information online.   A "wet shelter" to 
take in intoxicated homeless people whose present options are the 
emergency room and jail.

Nesbitt, D-Buncombe, said the local management entities that run 
mental health in their communities could use some of the $135 million 
his committee has proposed for them this year on such items from 
their wish list as a wet shelter. But he cautioned that the state 
couldn't do everything and that Buncombe County has room to spend 
more of its own money on mental health. The commission, on a request 
from Rep. Charles Thomas, R-Buncombe, agreed to come up with its top 
priorities within a month.

Thomas showed interest when Martin told lawmakers that onerous state 
regulations limit patients' choice of treatment providers. "A private 
practicing physician cannot see these clients," Martin said, "without 
belonging to some sort of agency."
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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman