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there is an imbalance or a lack of balance in the subcommittee's attention to legislation in the entire drug abuse field. That is far from the truth. But we are zeroing in on this particular problem because of many facts, some of which will come forward in the situation even as described here in Omaha.
There is a large program in this field. There is a large legislative program. The budget is a substantial one. It should be noted that notwithstanding the cutbacks in large parts of the budget effected by the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, there are several programs which have not been cut back from the budget levels. In fact, there are several that have been increased. One of the programs that has been increased is the field of drug abuse. There is an 8 percent increase in the budget for this year as compared with the budget for last year. This indicates not only a balanced and a comprehensive program, it also indicates the sense of urgency and the sense of importance that is attached to this entire field of drug
We have two other members from the staff of the Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency, which is a Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee. To my right are Miss Mathea Falco and Mr. John Rector. They are on the subcommittee, but they particularly are here at the request of Senator Bayh because they have attended all similar hearings in other cities on this subject.
The first witness today will be Mr. Gordon Helberg. Mr. Helberg, will you come forward, please, and be seated at the table here. Did Joe Malec come in this morning?
Mr. MALEC. Yes.
Senator HRUSKA. Joe Malec, Jr., will you come and be seated with the executive director of Omaha Awareness and Action.
You have filed with the committee your statement, Mr. Helberg and we will incorporate it in the record in its entirety.
We have sitting with the witness, Joseph Malec, Jr. He has been of tremendous help in the efforts of Omaha Awareness and Action, and for some 3 years now he has assisted in procuring financial and community support for the project and has drawn in a number of other people. He is one of the owners of Peony Park. He has made that park available for the OAA 1 day a year. He currently serves as president-elect of the Board of Directors of OAA.
Mr. Helberg will you proceed with your testimony?
STATEMENT OF GORDON HELBERG, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, OMAHA AWARENESS AND ACTION. INC., OMAHA, NEBR.
Mr. HELBERG. Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the subcommittee, I do appreciate the opportunity of appearing before you with regard to S. 3846.
As executive director, I am here representing Omaha Awareness and Action, Inc., a private, non-profit program designed to coordinate, plan and program drug services in the Omaha community. Omaha Awareness and Action has been in operation about 18 months and during that time has worked to develop a relationship with local government entities as well as the State of Nebraska Commission on Drugs.
Our funding to date has included an LEAA discretionary grant through the city of Omaha, an establishment grant through the Nebraska Division of Rehabilitation Services and Douglas County, United Community Services ane private donations. At the present time we are working with the National Institute of Mental Health on an 8-year comprehensive grant with local match coming from the Nebraska Commission on Drugs and the city of Omaha. A ThirdParty Agreement is being negotiated for funding through the Nebraska Division of Rehabilitation Services with local match coming from Douglas County.
I say all of this as a prelude to any statement on this because I think you ought to know from whence we come and how we are now serving in this community.
Omaha Awareness and Action works with the three medical units in our community that now use methadone as a treatment for narcotic addicts. You will be hearing from staff representatives today from each unit. Equilibria Medical Center, Inc. is a free medical clinic for our coordinated program and is funded through Omaha Awareness and Action for all drug related services.
Dr. Jack Lewis, giving testimony before you today, now directs the methadone program there and has been fully accountable for the use of methadone at the clinic.
Two primary concerns at Omaha Awareness and Action are that: 1. Methadone should be used as a last resort for the hard core addict only. The quality of heroin in Omaha is sufficiently weak that a minimum number of persons would need to be under this treatment. To use methadone as a withdrawal treatment under strict control is acceptable, but maintenance programs for addicts should be entered into with extreme caution.
2. Strict controls as outlined in S. 3846 be administered with no exceptions for drug abuse treatment services.
Omaha Awareness and Action pledges itself to work with your committee in any way we can to assure strict controls of methadone. Our goal is to work toward the alleviation of drug abuse in our community and it includes abuse of any treatment substance.
Senator HRUSKA. Mr. Helberg, I take it that the Omaha Awareness and Action organization is sort of an umbrella organization which concerns itself with the organization and development of var ious approaches in the entire field of drugs and dangerous subiances. Is that correct?
Mr. HELBERG. That is correct; yes.
Senator HRUSKA. You are concerned, as the name implies, with stimulating, causing and generating awareness of of the community in this field?
Mr. HELBERG. Correct.
Senator HRUSKA. May I ask how you are finding things by way of reaction to this program since its formation?
Mr. HELBERG. I think, like most drug programs across the Nation, the first thing you have to do is to establish a certain amount of credibility at two very distinct levels. One, with the community you are attempting to serve which is abusing drugs, and the other at the straight community who is very concerned about the drug abuse
problem. I think we, like all other programs, have had to come through some real difficult times in establishing credibility with those who are abusing drugs, and the straight community; that is, the City Fathers, the schools, the churches, the hospitals, and the whole thing
Senator HRUSKA. When was it organized?
Mr. HELBERG. We were officially organized in April of 1971, and began to function as an organization about July of 1971, so we have had just a little over a year and a half now to do this.
Senator HRUSKA. Would you briefly outline its structure as to officers or directors, and staff?
Mr. HELBERG. The idea behind the board of directors, when it was first organized, was that there should be the young adult, the young executive who might have a family who may not have children involved or at an age where they would be involved yet but who might be of most prime concern, and so we have approximately 40 board members who from time to time have shared in multiple ways but who do serve on our board of directors to administer the program for the community. These are made up of persons such as Joe Malec, and other young community leaders.
We do have youth representation on our board who also try to give us input as to what their attitudes are on service.
Our staff at Omaha Awareness and Action is a very small administrative staff of five persons right now, and we have eight different programs that we work with.
We have out-reach services. That is the client-finding services.
We have services of a medical nature such as Equilibria Medical Center.
We also work very closely with the Nebraska Psychiatric Institute, the Veterans Hospital, and Douglas County Hospital, which are the three prime treatment hospitals for the city in the area of drug abuse.
Along with that we have a counseling service, Operation Bridge, which provides youth counseling and counseling for families. They also provide some of the staff training for paraprofessional or lay workers on our staff. They are also in the process right now of working with parent groups in a training program to assist them in understanding the delemma of our youth.
We have one crash pad at Mid City Service Center that is a temporary shelter where a client can stay up to 3 days. That time can be extended if we find they are serious about getting help, and will begin by setting up some testing for them, maybe getting some medical services, perhaps finding them a job or finding them a more permanent place in which to live.
Right now we are in the process of developing a nonhospital detoxification facility which will be located in the North Omaha community. The program that has been operating there has been an outreach center but was not functioning well and was recently closed for that service. One of our great needs is to have a place where someone who has been addicted or really strung out on drugs can go to be detoxified in a very tight controlled environment, under strict control 24 hours a day. The treatment would be offered to the client
on an individual basis. Their stay may not be long if they come from a medical detoxification unit such as veterans hospital. They probably have been chemically detoxified, but what that would mean for a person coming from a medical detoxification program would be that we would assist them in developing a plan for themselves, whether employmentwise or trainingwise. Of course, this detoxification unit would be used for the addict who is willing or wants to go "cold turkey" without any kind of chemical assistance in doing so. This facility will have medical coverage with a doctor and nurses being available.
We also operate two halfway houses for the patients who have gone through the detoxification period. These halfway houses then assist them in stabilizing their life style. Although it sounds like a small event for most of us who have lived somewhat organized lives, these people who have been into drugs seriously have a very difficult time in doing any kind of planning for themselves. This is one of the things that the halfway house does. It assists them in the ability to find jobs, holding a job or getting into a training program. Many of them are of the quality that they are able to handle college and university work very well. Others choose to go into other technical type training.
One of the things that we feel that we need to spend more time on is to get into a preventive program. We have done some of this and we feel that all of our programs in Omaha are doing preventive work to some extent.
At the same time, we continue to work with law enforcement people of the community. We have to be cautious, because ours is a social service and we are not law enforcement, lest we be called "Narcs" by those we are wanting to serve. We do work with Chief Andersen and some of his staff and have meetings with them on a regular basis, and with the city and county prosecutors, to assure that we are working in a fashion that makes it possible for us to work together for the alleviation of the drug problem in our community.
Senator HRUSKA. How many members do you have on your staff? Mr. HELBERG. In all of our programs there are approximately 40 staff persons now.
Senator HRUSKA. How large of a gross budget does your organization have? What is the range?
Mr. HELBERG. About $500,000.
Senator HRUSKA. What is the number of heroin addicts in Omaha, according to your information?
Mr. HELBERG. You can hear anywhere
Senator HRUSKA. According to your information and estimates.
Mr. HELBERG. Anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 are the numbers that are thrown around. I really could not tell you, Senator, how many are here.
Senator HRUSKA. It is very difficult.
Mr. HELBERG. It is very difficult to pin down. It depends on whether you call them addicts or users. Some of them are using heroin that are probably not in the severe addiction level. There are very severe addicts in this city; yes.
Senator HRUSKA. How many of those are served by the program of your organization in any of its aspects?
Mr. HELBERG. We have in the halfway house right now six former heroin addicts, or who have been under treatment, who have been detoxified, who are now living and working there. All of them are either in training or are employed.
Senator HRUSKA. Is that on methadone?
Mr. HELBERG. No; this is a general program. I would have to ask Dr. Lewis, when he gives testimony, to give you the number that they are treating. They have had as high as 74, methadone maintenance patients at Equilibria. Right now I understand that number is down, but he could speak to that specifically.
Senator HRUSKA. You have other programs besides that. You have counseling services?
Mr. HELBERG. Yes.
Senator HRUSKA. What would be the numbers attached to these other activities?
Mr. HELBERG. Of the addicts, we have very few addicts who are into the counseling program or into the crash facility. Most of the addicts that we are seeing in our city in our program are coming to Veterans, the NPI, Equilibria or into the halfway houses, but many of them are not accepting the counseling services. They are receiving counseling at the halfway houses through our psychiatric consultants who work with the doctor at the north halfway house and at Paul's Place.
Senator HRUSKA. How many addicts are being served by methadone maintenance?
Mr. HELBERG. I will have to say that Dr. Lewis will have to speak to that. The last figure I heard was, I believe, 58 at Equilibria that were on methadone treatment.
Senator HRUSKA. Have you been able to make any efforts to assess the program's impact on crime here? Do you have any ideas on that at all?
Mr. HELBERG. Yes; I would like to speak to two cases.
When the director of the halfway house came in yesterday, we were visiting about this, and he said, "We have one man who has been in our halfway house about a year now. His daily habit was $80 worth a day. In the last year," he said, "this patient has saved this community in theft and dealing drugs approximately $29,000 from no longer being involved in drug misuse or heroin use," and he said. "That patient alone has saved the citizens of Omaha that much grief."
He said he feels also that the fact that the addict has been actively employed for over 4 months making $160 every 2 weeks, which is not big money, but he is employed. He has been into a training program and seems to be getting himself together.
I use this as an example of one person who has altered his style.
Mr. HELBERG. He is not on methadone. He is into the treatment program without methadone.
Senator HRUSKA. Have you any cases in which you can describe the impact of methadone maintenance?