There is no question that we must change the way that substance abuse is addressed in Kentucky. The solutions must be long-term and come at the drug problem with the right balance of prevention-education, treatment and law enforcement.
Implementing such a comprehensive strategy will not be a simple or speedy process, and once a plan it is in place, it will take time for us to see the results.
The feedback the Summit received at the public input meeting it held in Danville in April and through questionnaires from people in Boyle and surrounding counties indicates some of the intensive work that may be ahead in reducing the drug problems in our Commonwealth.
The forum in Danville concluded the series of 16 regional public input meetings that the Summit conducted throughout Kentucky. Residents of Boyle, Garrard, Lincoln, Casey, Mercer, Washington, Marion and Taylor counties were invited to attend the public forum in Danville.
During the public meeting and through questionnaires, the people who live and work in those counties have told the Summit team that their communities need:
n more drug courts;
n more drug treatment facilities;
n shorter waiting periods for admittance to existing treatment programs;
n science-based drug prevention and education programs for children in public schools and more education programs for adults and parents;
n more communication between law enforcement agencies about drug issues; and,
n better coordinated strategies, with measurable objectives, for law enforcement to use in addressing drug issues in their communities.
These messages, as well as the call for stabilized funding in each area, have been echoed across the Commonwealth.
The Summit team is finding that that list of needs is very similar in every community.
Clearly, these issues, along with the data collected from hundreds of questionnaires from federal, state and local drug program leaders, are among the top subjects the Summit panels are discussing as they consider the recommendations that the group will make to Gov. Fletcher in May and June.
There will not be a quick fix to the drug problems in the Commonwealth. Our communities will need patience and resolve as we work together to see those recommendations through to results.
Once a comprehensive and more balanced statewide drug control policy is at work, we should all expect greater achievements in reducing substance abuse trafficking and use. In addition, the Commonwealth will be making the best use of its resources by directing tax dollars to drug control methods that are proven to work.
Kentuckians have made the public input portion of the assessment a success by taking time to share their knowledge about substance abuse in their communities with the Summit. If you have not been able to do so yet, there is still time to make suggestions.
To complete a questionnaire about substance abuse issues in your community and learn more about the Statewide Drug Control Assessment Summit, please visit HYPERLINK "http://www.kydrugsummit.ky.gov/" www.kydrugsummit.ky.gov, or call (859) 622-1328 to request a paper copy of the questionnaire.
I urge all Kentuckians to join us in our efforts.|5/21/04|***