The conditions imposed on the wellness center will isolate residents, not help them

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To the Editor:

This letter is in response to your article in the October 20-26 edition of the Pike County Courier regarding the Westfall wellness center.

It is with disappointment, sadness and a sense of outrage that the stipulations conditional for the approval of the Wellness Center at the Malibu Dude Ranch were so onerous.

Anyone familiar with the environment that such a facility should offer to individuals recovering from addiction knows that the conditions imposed for this center are far from the norm.

According to the article, supervisors granted approval to the center based on “similar conditional uses allowed in the district and other factor." I know of no other facility, other than prisons or detention centers, that would require, let alone approve, such stringent measures on what is purported to be a “treatment center." Measures such as “round the clock wearing of electronic bracelets monitored by a hired bonded security company,” cameras and the absence of any visitors for the residents paints a picture of a detention center with a focus on punishment and negativism rather than helping people recover from a devastating disease.

As well intended as the parties may be, the conditions that will exist in this facility will engender an atmosphere of restrictions and confinement rather than one of recovery. The goal of a “wellness” program should be to encourage a sense of self-awareness and a confidence that there is a support system in place to help on the journey towards a successful recovery.

The conditions imposed on the wellness center would separate the residents from family, friends, the community, and the outside world of which they are a part. Rehabilitation is a path that requires a foundation built upon respect and acceptance. Sadly, this article paints a far different picture.

Addiction should be approached in the same manner as other chronic medical conditions are understood and treated.

The public and our leaders need to view addiction as an enigma that is pervasive and has become, regrettably, a pandemic. As an example, the Courier issue for the week of October 27-November 2 cites that eleven (11) of the fifteen (15) criminal dispositions cited on page 10 were for possession of drugs and/or drug paraphernalia and driving under the influence of alcohol.

Clearly, we are in need of more education and public involvement. Programs must not accept the conditions imposed on the “Malibu Wellness Center” as the paradigm for recovery models of the future.

Carolyn M. Drennan


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