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Hard Drug Treatment Finally Getting A Push

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" ONE OF THE best pieces of news to come out of city and county government this yéar is the announcement of progress on a hard drug treatment plan. County Mental Health officials have put together funds making the county eligible for a federal grant to finance treatment of heroin addicts. Participating are the county, the city's Model Cities program, the Mental Health Board and the City of Ann Arbor. Federal funds of $65,000 will be added to the local share of v.$45,000 to finance treatment of about 200 patients. The program will expand on the work being done by Dr. Edward Pierce and Dr. Jerry Walden at the Summit St. Medical Center. If there are any "authorities" on the Ann Arbor drug situation, the term would probably best fit these two men. The Mayor's Blue Ribbon Drug Committee, which has been studying the problem of drug abuse in the community for many months, is expected to report soon. Whatever i t s conclusions and recommendations, it has been known that the problem of hard drug addiction should have been tackled here long ago. The Summit St. clinic was the first real effort in that direction. Treating heroin addicts with methadone is sometimes criticized as substituting one drug for another, but the benefits for the dict and for society are substantial. It is generally conceded that the great increase in burglaries here is in part due to the hard drug users' need for large sums of money to support an expensive habit. Dr. Philip Margolis, director of the Mental Health Center, has expressed concern that the program for w. h i c h funds are being sought will center too much on the methadone treatment and not involve enough mental health supportive services. That may be true at first, but if drug abuse is given the attention it deserves in all of its phases, many more community agencies and techniques will be involved ultimately in solving the problem. ♦ COORDINATION of such efforts in a community health complex, such as the joint county-St. Joseph Mercy Hospital program planned for the County Farm property on Washtenaw, has been discussed for several years. Treatment o f alcoholism would be another facet of such a center. Washtenaw county has taken the first steps toward what could be a model approach to the major health problem of drug abuse. It should be followed through, with full cooperation and enthusiasm by all units of government. fhis county was a leader in the medical examiner system and ambulance controls. The stakes are even bigger this time.