Neighborhood Seen As Key Against Drugs

November 24, 1991|By JoAnna Daemmrich | JoAnna Daemmrich,Staff writer

County Executive Robert R. Neall is expected to unveil a comprehensive plan tomorrow to fight drug and alcohol abuse throughout the community.

The grass-roots prevention program will involve every neighborhood in the county, from public housing complexes to wealthy waterfront areas, public health sources said.

Neall will discuss the details at a news conference scheduled for10 a.m. at the Drug and Alcohol Prevention Program's new offices in Parole.

Among the efforts outlined in the plan are community meetings, school programs, and specific incentives to help children and teen-agers resist the lure of drugs. The county executive, who was Maryland's first drug czar in 1989, is a strong supporter of programs that keep youths from going to drinking parties and experimenting with drugs.

Several sources described the plan as a "specific focus" forthe Drug and Alcohol Prevention Program, which was under the county executive's control until Neall took office. Neall moved the office under the control of the county Health Department after his transitionteam suggested setting more definite goals and tracking accomplishments more closely.

The last county drug czar, Huntley J. Cross, resigned in June to return to running the county school system's widely praised substance-abuse program. He was replaced in September by David W. Almy, Neall's former campaign manager and chief trouble-shooter.

Last month, the office moved next to Open Door, the Health Department's much-used outpatient treatment program in Parole. Health officials emphasized at the time that they wanted to strengthen the partnership between prevention and treatment efforts.

When Almy was appointed, he said he planned to change the program's direction. The roleof the county drug czar would be less flashy and more focused on working within the community to combat substance abuse, he said.

"Thethrust of it will be trench warfare," he said in an interview in September. "This is the kind of effort that's going to take all 450,000 people in the county to get it to work -- not just one."

Neall haspromised that the county's war on drugs would be strengthened by oversight from the Health Department.

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