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September 12, 2013

Model Program: State legislators told UNITE drug treatment program saving lives

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — LONDON – At age 14, Chad Webb began drinking alcohol.

It wasn’t long before his youthful experimentation had progressed to more potent drugs and an addiction to prescription pain killers.

“All I was worrying about is how I would get my next high,” the 38-year-old Pike County resident told state lawmakers during a meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Judiciary in London on September 6.

But that life came to an end in 2005, when Webb was arrested by Operation UNITE detectives on drug trafficking charges. His arrest coincided with the launch of new initiatives by the anti-drug organization, and set in motion a sequence of events that turned his life around.

In June 2005, UNITE began a toll-free Treatment Referral Line (1-866-908-6483) to help individuals such as Webb connect with the limited number of treatment facilities serving southern and eastern Kentucky. The following month, Fifth District Congressman Harold “Hal’ Rogers announced the creation of UNITE’s Treatment Voucher Program to assist low-income residents obtain residential treatment.

Webb was one of the Voucher Program’s first recipients, and graduated from treatment on July 6, 2006.

“For 2,741 days I’ve been a good dad and husband,” Webb said. “The war on drugs is far from over, but at least for me the battle has been won.”

“Addiction is a treatable illness, but there’s not a silver bullet,” Rogers told the committee. “UNITE provides a lifeline of hope” through its voucher program and treatment help line.

The three-person UNITE treatment team currently fields more than 1,200 calls for assistance each month from addicts or family members seeking guidance with an addiction issue.

“These are life and death calls,” noted Dan Smoot, UNITE president/CEO. “They feel they have no other option.”

“We in far eastern Kentucky have just been devastated (by drugs),” said committee member Sen. Ray S. Jones II, who represents Pike, Martin and Johnson counties. “UNITE has saved life after life after life.”

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