President Obama unveils drug control strategy; agencies await - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

President Obama unveils drug control strategy; local agencies await

By Tiffany Teasley – bio | email

HAMILTON, OH (FOX19) - For 30 hours a week men at the Sojourner Recovery Services in Hamilton come to out-patient group to get help.

"They work on building relationships with their family, getting community support back," said Sojourner President and CEO Amy Aerhardt.

They serve about 1500 families a year, and the number of people coming through their doors for treatment is skyrocketing.

"I've been with this agency for 23 years and we have longer waiting lists now than we ever have," Aerhardt said.

Aerhart attributes the growing demand for treatment to the economy, and she says treatment centers like hers are struggling the meet the need.

"If someone comes to us today, the chances are that they could be on a waiting list to get in here for 6 to 8 months, it's just unacceptable, people are dying while they're out there waiting to get treatment," Aerhardt said.

The goal of President Obama's new drug control strategy is to decrease the rate of youth using drugs by 15 percent over the next 5 years. The plan calls for encouraging doctors to ask about prior drug use during routine visits, establishing an electronic database to identify doctors over-prescribing pain killers, and expanding treatment and community-based programs among other initiatives.

"My hope is that it will allow places like ours to expand the amount of beds and the amount of open slots that are available," Aerhardt said.

Reform advocates point out that this year's national drug control budget proposal still spends twice as much on enforcement compared to treatment programs.

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