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— Testimony on Friday centered around the need for drug-treatment facilities and the difference they make in the lives of recovering addicts.

The House Committee on Public Health, Welfare and Labor for the Arkansas General Assembly heard testimony at Decision Point, a drug-treatment center in Bentonville.

The committee heard from three Decision Point clients. The testimony of one was especially poignant. A woman, using only her first name of Lori, said Decision Point saved her life.

She underwent treatment in Decision Point’s Bentonville unit in November 2005. She had lost her nursing licenses because of methamphetamine and alcohol addiction.

“I know if it was not for Decision Point that I would have ended up in prison or dead,” she told the committee. “I know without the program (Decision Point) that I wouldn’t be here.”

The committee also heard from representatives of Oxford House, a group home for recovering substance abusers in Harrison.

Scott Swanson, owner of the house, told the committee how some people at first objected to it being in Harrison, but 17 months later resistance has faded.

Jeff Hunt, the Oxford House outreach worker for Oklahoma, said the program expels any resident for drug or alcohol use. Also, residents must work and pay an equal share of household expenses.

David Laffon, director of the Arkansas Division of Behavioral Health Services, and Joe Hill, director of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, also testified before the committee. They spoke about the need for more treatment alternatives for residents.

Hill spoke in favor of being able to offer more Oxford Houses across the state.

Bentonville Mayor Bob McCaslin welcomed the committee to the city before the hearing.

“I wish people did not need the services this facility (Decision Point) provides, but the sad fact is that they do,” McCaslin said.

News, Pages 7 on 11/18/2009

Print Headline: Committee hears need for drug -treatment facilities

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