Published in the Morning Call
June 11, 2006
A glimmer of hope for a drug and alcohol detoxification center in Lehigh
One of the eulogists at Dorothy Roth's funeral on June 1
reminded mourners how Mrs. Roth, who died May 30 at age 83, had dedicated so
much of her life to unpopular causes — including treatment for people addicted
to drug and alcohol. It was a source of great frustration to the tireless Mrs.
Roth, and to many others, that no facility to provide
those services exists in the immediate Lehigh
Valley. Unless they have been
imprisoned, addicts here must go to treatment centers in Montgomery or Berks
counties, or even farther away.
That is why it stirred those who had gathered in Allentown
that day to pay tribute to Mrs. Roth to hear that there is reason to think the
situation may be improving. Officials of Lehigh
County and Sacred
recently began meeting to explore a partnership. Talks
center around a drug and alcohol detoxification and treatment center in the Allentown
hospital — excellent news, indeed, though most details remain to be resolved.
Not all alcoholics and drug addicts need ''detox'' before entering a treatment center. A center did
exist at another location in Allentown
until 1996. So, for about a decade, residents of the Lehigh
Valley have had no choice but to
travel to Bucks, Montgomery and Chester
counties to get help. There is no way to know how many alcoholics and drug
addicts have delayed or decided against detox and
treatment because of the distance; an addict certainly is more apt to get help
when it is readily available.
officials appeared to be close to securing a new site in 2004. The county had
made arrangements with White Deer Run, an agency that operates drug and alcohol
clinics statewide, for a center in Lynn
Township. But the hopes of those
who work in the field of drug and alcohol treatment were dashed by a zoning
controversy and an unsuccessful court appeal.
Now, a partnership with the county and Sacred Heart makes sense. Allentown
is at the epicenter of the Valley's population. A hospital would not pose any
zoning issues. Finally, if and when this needed clinic opens, the sign placed
out front should read, ''The Dorothy M. Roth Detox
and Treatment Center.''