Fighting drugs together Coordinating efforts a top priority for new director of substance abuse office.

July 20, 1998

THE CLOSET that keeps drug abuse hidden in Howard County can also make it difficult to see all the programs devoted to helping addicts.

There is but one methadone clinic in the county, and it only recently opened. A number of church, school, police and social-service programs also seek to prevent drug abuse.

Anyone having difficulty finding help should contact the county's substance abuse impact office (410-313-4439). Its new director is Teresa L. Daub, who replaced Joyce Brown Weddington in April.

Ms. Weddington, who has taken a federal job, focused much of her efforts on improving communication and cooperation among the various county groups sponsoring drug abuse programs.

She and County Executive Charles I. Ecker each year made "partnership awards" to people and agencies that had found innovative ways to collaborate in their drug-fighting efforts.

Ms. Daub says she will continue to stress cooperation to avoid service redundancies. Her advisory board may have some ideas about that when it meets next month.

In the meantime, she is getting acquainted with each anti-drug program in Howard County. When someone calls, she wants to be able to direct them to the appropriate place for help.

Howard County never seems to acknowledge its drug abuse problems until an overdose death or related tragedy turns the media's spotlight on the affluent community. Outside of camera range, though, people are working quietly every day to prevent another heroin addict from being found dead in the woods.

The substance abuse impact office was created more than seven years ago so that county government can play more than a law enforcement role in that mission. But one person with a part-time assistant can only do so much.

In the coming weeks, Ms. Daub will be assessing the county's drug abuse treatment capabilities. Where deficiencies are found, the public must support efforts to make improvements.

Pub Date: 7/20/98

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