Don’t let bureaucracy stand in the way of needed treatment

The devil is in the details, as they say; and in the case of the effort to offer drug treatment and recovery resources in Marietta, those devilish details are creating quite the mess.

While an across the board not-in-my-backyard attitude about drug treatment facilities is patently unacceptable (the problem is in our backyards — no reasonable person can deny that — so the solution must be here, too), those facilities must follow ALL the rules put in place to keep our communities as safe as possible. Failure to dot Is and cross Ts in this situation not only furthers the discomfort of those who are concerned about such facilities in the first place, but makes it difficult for supporters of those facilities to remain on board.

However, as seems so often to be the case, the bureaucracy appears to be at the root of much of the recent kerfuffle.

According to Cameron McNamee, director of policy and communications for the state pharmacy board, the state level bureaucrats have both a hands-off and convoluted approach. For example, “We don’t get involved in local zoning ordinances,” he said.

Seems like the sort of thing that would be right at the top of their check list before doling out licenses, doesn’t it?

But it gets worse. There are multiple definitions for an opioid treatment program — and not all levels of the bureaucracy follow the same definition. The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services does not use the same definition as the federal government does, for OTPs. The state pharmacy board adheres to the federal definition. The OMHAS is the entity that issued the license for Oriana House Inc. … and according to Oriana House Vice President Bernie Rochford, “Under our license with OMHAS (they) specifically told us that law will not apply to (our) operations at that facility.”

It seems as though we are defeated before we can begin, if the solution to the substance abuse epidemic depends on bureaucrats getting their ducks in a row. But we still have to try.

We would suggest, then, that municipal, county, state and federal officials work to develop a single set of definitions for the terms on which providers will depend, if they are to follow the rules; state and federal officials then communicate regularly with the folks receiving their licenses and money — and the communities in which they are handing out the same; and providers bend over backwards to ensure they ARE following not just the letter of those rules and regulations, but the spirit.

We won’t get anywhere if we don’t trust and understand each other — and through it all, the most vulnerable among us will continue to suffer.


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