Saturday, June 7, 2008

Gateway of hope

New detox center is a big step in helping chronic inebriates

An advanced alcohol treatment center has been the aim of several visionary Fairbanksans for about a decade. To see work actually under way on the center must bring them great satisfaction.

What would likely bring those people even greater professional and personal pleasure, however, is to see the Fairbanks community view the new center as part of a larger effort to reduce the problem of chronic inebriation in this town.

The new detoxification center being built on the south side of town — named the Golden Heart Gateway to Recovery Center — won’t add many treatment beds to the small number already available. But the beds it is adding could produce success stories that have been too rare in Fairbanks. That’s because the center will feature a multi-pronged treatment program that, with perseverance and a lot of work, hopes to turn chronic public inebriates into former chronic public inebriates. Nurses from Fairbanks Native Association’s Ralph Perdue Center and case managers from Fairbanks Community Behavioral Health and Tanana Chiefs Conference Mental Health Services will work together at the center to provide comprehensive treatment.

It’s taken a lot of time, planning and money to get the center to this point. Those involved held a brief celebratory ceremony earlier this week to mark the pouring of the building’s foundation and to thank some important and prominent donors — Tanana Chiefs Conference, Doyon Limited and the Greater Fairbanks Community Hospital Foundation. Funding for this public-private partnership has also come from the federal government’s Denali Commission, the state Department of Health and Social Services, the Alaska Legislature, the Rasmuson Foundation and the Alaska Mental Health Trust.

Chronic public inebriation is a community problem in need of a community solution. The private donors to the alcohol center’s construction in particular deserve thanks for not only recognizing the need to solve this problem but also for agreeing to participate in a solution in such a prominent way.

The new treatment center will help those who have tumbled far into the abyss of alcoholism, but that’s only one part of the overall attack on chronic public drunkenness. The other part is curbing the availability of the cheap alcohol that finds its way into the ever-weakening body and mind of a public inebriate. City leaders have again begun the discussion about limiting the supply of cheap and fortified alcohol in a select part of the city.

Fairbanks is a good distance away from minimizing the problem of chronic public drunkenness, a problem that has cost the city, state and Fairbanks Memorial Hospital millions of dollars. Construction of an enhanced detoxification center is a major step toward the goal of eliminating chronic public inebriation and deserves continued financial and community support.
source: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

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