Tuesday, November 28, 2000

One officer's crusade against substance abuse

By William A. Weathers
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Several years ago, while patrolling his beat in Walnut Hills, Cincinnati police Officer Shawn George approached a woman he knew was involved in drugs. He asked whether she wanted help to try to turn her life around.

        “She was an intelligent young lady down on her luck,” the 35-year-old officer said.

        The woman told him she did need — and want — help, so the officer recommended the Center for Chemical Addictions Treatment on Ezzard Charles Drive in the West End.

        “I took her down there in my patrol car,” he said.

        The center's services include medically monitored detoxification, short-term residential treatment, day treatment, intensive outpatient treatment, drug testing and family programs.

        She was just one of nearly a dozen people Officer George referred to the center from about 1996 to 1998.

        For those efforts, Officer George is the recipient of the center's 2000 Kindred Spirit Award, which he will receive at a Dec. 6 luncheon.

        The award is given to someone who actively worked to promote prevention and/or treatment of alcoholism and substance abuse in Greater Cincinnati.

        “Several men and women Officer George brought to the center have graduated and gone on to lead productive lives,” said Kit Berger, the center's development director.

        Said Officer George, who today is a school resource officer based at Taft High School in the West End: “The visible changes in these people since overcoming addiction is unbelievable.”

        The change also is a boon to their neighborhoods.

        “They're off the streets. They're doing something productive. They're not involved with drugs,” Officer George said.

        The Center for Chemical Addictions Treatment was founded in 1970 as a detoxification center and halfway house for alcoholic men. It was formally known then as the Center for Comprehensive Alcoholism Treatment, but was called “cat house” by clients.

        In the 1980s, treatment was extended to women. And in 1994, the center's name was officially changed to indicate treatment it provided for all substances that could be abused.

        The center serves more than 2,400 individuals annually.

        It was a special moment when the first woman Officer George took to the center came to the police district office to thank him after she successfully completed the treatment program.

        “I almost cried,” he said.

        Although he's no longer patrolling the streets, Officer George said he can still can do his part to help reduce the negative effects drugs can have on a community.

        “If I can get to kids before they fall to other influences, then I'm hopefully making a difference in their lives and ultimately leading them to make the right choices,” he said.


               The Center for Chemical Addictions Treatment's annual luncheon will be at 11:30 a.m. Dec. 6 at the downtown Westin Hotel. Tickets are $35 per person or $4OO for a corporate table of 10. Proceeds from the event benefit the center's programs.


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- One officer's crusade against substance abuse
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