Initiative to Combat Substance Abuse

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In February, Governor Ernie Fletcher announced a substance abuse initiative that would concentrate not only on beefing up law enforcement when it comes to drug offenders, but would also work on getting drug users more treatment. Senate bill 34, which was proposed by Senator Dan Kelly from Springfield, would concentrate on treatment instead of incarceration.

Russ Hopper runs the Questhouse, a rehabilitation center in Bowling Green for drug users trying to quit their potentially deadly habit.

"For most drug abusers by the time they get to the legal system, it's very, very important. What we're talking about is, the chemistry and effect it has on the brain." says Russ Hopper

Hopper says he's encouraged by the Governor's announcement to try and rehabilitate some drug offenders instead of just throwing them in prison.

Hopper says, "If we take people and just put them in prison, without treating the addiction when they get out their untreated so they're going back to the same behaviors and so they likely hood of returning to prison is enhanced."

Often times, Hopper says, the drugs aren't the reason drug users are in trouble with the law, but drugs are the source of the problem.

"It's an excellent idea, well want to address the number one problem. For example the crime is not the problem, what led to the crime, the addiction is the problem." says Hopper

In addition to run-ins with the law, Hopper says drugs can have a long term effect on your health. He says it takes 3-5 years for your central nervous system to heal 75 percent. It takes 9 to 11 years for the nervous system to heal completely. In the end, Hopper says he wishes the success rate for rehabilitation was higher than just the low teens. But, at one time it was.

Hopper says, "Once upon a time we had high 50 to 60 percent success rates, and then the whole scene was changed because insurance refusal to reimburse for coverage."