Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Community partnership tackles drug addiction

It is disappointing to see a residential drug treatment facility such as New Directions close its doors.

Many men (but not women or teens) got the opportunity to break the cycle of drug abuse, thanks to the dedication of people like Jo Adams, who made New Directions and its treatment philosophy work.

While it is the case that a month in New Directions cost $2,500, and it may be less than the cost for a month in prison, it is important to recognize that over recent years, the individual, and not a medical insurance company or tax dollars, paid for residential treatment.

How many persons or families in the Greater Lafayette Community can afford the out-of-pocket expense of $2,500 a month for 10 or 12 months?

A drug abuse problem is a community's problem, not just an individual's problem.

The downtown Lafayette Weed and Seed initiative shows that a few dollars can tackle a stubborn drug problem and make substantial improvements in the lives of individuals addicted to drugs and to the community in which we all live.

Consider the re-entry court, a Weed and Seed program that is focused on people returning to Lafayette.

They served prison time for serious drug dealing offenses. All of the participants and all graduates of the program have proven to this community that affordable and nonresidential programs designed and monitored by a court can prevent drug use, drug abuse and drug dealing.

The re-entry court is a Weed and Seed initiative that partners with law enforcement and community corrections, Wabash Valley Hospital, the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, the Home with Hope, Family Services, LARA, Ivy Tech, Purdue, the Community Health Clinic, Lafayette Urban Ministries and volunteers from the faith-based community to make it "work."

This is Weed and Seed at its best: Identifying the partners who can solve and prevent problems, and then expecting success.

The Lafayette Police Department, when establishing its initial Weed and Seed goals, estimated that it could increase drug investigations by 20 percent.

In the first year, Chief Don Roush and his officers delivered.

Twenty-two percent more drug cases have come into LPD. A police department needs to increase the number of arrests for drug dealing before the scope of the drug problem can be decreased.

The Weed and Seed Program responds to those who are already addicted to drugs, and it is strongly committed to preventing substance abuse among the younger generations.

In February, one of the best drug prevention programs in the country, "Families and Schools Together," will be introduced at Miller Elementary School.

Trinity United Methodist Church is organizing a volunteer army of teachers, counselors and youth leaders to run the program.

Trainers sponsored by Weed and Seed will come to town and show networks of individuals how they can bring this program into their churches and schools.

In the next school year, FAST will be brought into the middle schools.

As one door closes, another opens.

Instead of depending on a single organization to solve and prevent problems, the downtown Lafayette Weed and Seed initiative counts on partnerships and numerous organizations to use their collective resources to reduce our crime problems, respond effectively to drug dealing and drug abuse, stabilize our neighborhoods and prevent the cycle of drug abuse from infecting our children.

Soon, Weed and Seed will ask its partners to go one step further.

How willing are we, as a community, to reduce the homeless population, in particular those who are homeless and addicted, in this thriving and vital city?

source: Journal and Courier Online,

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