Steinberg: War On Drugs Only A Partial Success

Lt. Governor Praises Effort In Howard

February 27, 1991|By Patrick L. Hickerson | Patrick L. Hickerson,Staff writer

Lt. Governor Melvin Steinberg, chairman of the Governor's Commissionon Alcohol and Drug Abuse, on Monday described the state and county effort against chemical abuse as only a partial success.

His remarks came at the George Howard county office building during the commission's second annual visit to Howard County.

The commission's visit was designed to let county educators, police, health officials and members of the community detail how the county is combating drug abuse.

Steinberg said that positive results have been made in socially affluent areas where the threat of a revoked professional license or a trial was enough to curb use.

But, he said, the true test will come in the socially disadvantaged areas where alternative strategies are needed.

"Yes, we have made progress,but at the easiest end," said Steinberg. "Now we're going into the tougher areas."

The commission's purpose is to facilitate and coordinate substance abuse planning across Maryland.

The group regularly travels the state to survey regional problems and track common threads that might help in developing a state policy. It also works to consolidate state and county forces to see how limited funds can be adequately allocated.

The commission's initial evaluations of the county's plans have been favorable.

"Howard County is in the vanguardwith respect to their answers to the problems of drug abuse," said Steinberg.

The lieutenant governor further said that of fifteen approaches the state recommends to confront drug abuse, Howard County concurs on fourteen.

"I see a lot of outreach into the community," said the commission's executive director, Floyd Pond, during an afternoon public hearing. "This is a model effort out here."

The commission toured schools and several treatment programs in the county on Monday.

Despite the prospect of $75 million in new cuts to the 1991state budget, Steinberg asserts that programs involving the prevention and treatment of drug abuse will not be touched.

"Our administration has held drug abuse programs as the most protected. Any more money depends on federal funds," said Steinberg.

This year, the state has allocated $571,015 to Howard County.

County Executive Charles I. Ecker, who described drug and alcohol abuse as "the number one problem facing us", was less than sanguine -- especially when the county faces the prospects of tough economic times ahead.

"We do not have any money to create more treatment programs," he said. "We're in a severe financial bind. We're looking at massive layoffs and a property tax increase. Nothing is sacred right now."

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