Thousands of Washington residents who are dependent on drugs should have the right to get help regardless of their income, according to a City Council bill that would establish the first city funded residential drug treatment center.
City Council member John Ray (D-At Large), who is running for reelection, introduced the bill yesterday. He said that officials have estimated that there are more than 12,000 heroin addicts in the city; 60,000 who are dependent on cocaine, PCP and other illegal drugs, and 88,000 who are chronic alcoholics.
While the District's private, nonprofit drug-treatment facilities have been successful, Ray said there are not enough of them. Ray's bill would give D.C. residents the right to drug treatment and require the mayor to establish a center for residential and outpatient treatment.
The bill does not designate funds for the center. Instead, it would establish a 15-member commission, appointed by the mayor, to determine the costs and staff size for a treatment center.
Ray has also tried to address drug abuse through another bill pending before the council's Consumer Committee. That bill would require that health insurance policies written in the District provide coverage for treatment of drug and alcohol abuse and mental illnesses.
The full City Council considered the insurance bill last month, but sent it back to Ray's committee after failing to reach an agreement.