- Multiple groups that provide and support treatment services for drug addiction are supporting Governor Ernie Fletcher's initiative to address Kentucky's substance abuse problems.
"We support Governor Fletcher's position that this should be treated as an epidemic," said Jay Davidson, president and CEO of The Healing Place, a recovery program for homeless men and women in Louisville. "It's an outstanding initiative - if you don't treat the disease it's going to get worse."
Governor Fletcher announced his plans last Thursday with the release of the Statewide Drug Control Assessment Summit 2004 report. The Governor emphasized the need for more treatment for drug addiction and wants to increase the number of drug treatment facilities and reduce the waiting period for patients to get into these facilities.
Davidson endorsed the plan, saying untreated addiction only means higher cost to the taxpayers and to the addict. "Governor Fletcher is right on target," said Davidson, whose center has 436 beds and was founded by members of the Jefferson County Medical Society in 1989.
Another supporter is Charlotte Wethington of Kenton County, who lost a son to drug addiction in 2002 and who is a steering committee member and past co-chair of People Advocating Recovery (PAR), a grassroots organization representing those suffering from the disease of addiction.
"It was great to hear that the Governor plans to focus on expanding treatment,"
Wethington said. "I'm encouraged by it and hopeful it can make a difference for addicts and their families."
Wethington said it was important that drug addiction be recognized as a disease and that some hope be given to current addicts and their families. "As a member of PAR, I believe that with treatment recovery can be a reality," she said.
PAR will hold a rally on Friday, Sept. 3, at 1 p.m. on the Capitol steps in honor of September being National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month. Governor Fletcher has issued a proclamation encouraging citizens to promote the benefits of drug and alcohol treatment.
Dan Howard, executive director of the Kentucky Association of Regional Mental Health-Mental Retardation programs, said the recognition of the drug abuse problem by Governor Fletcher was a key, along with the establishment of the Office of Drug Control Policy.
"This is the first time there's been a commitment from the chief executive to seriously look at the ramifications of drug abuse," said Howard. "That first step makes it credible."
Howard represents 14 regional programs that provide substance abuse prevention and treatment.