We should all be in favor of increasing access to drug treatment instead of locking up addicts. Yet, despite near unanimity on that point, as a society we seem to be stuck pouring massive resources into arresting, prosecuting and locking up drug offenders instead of increasing funding for treatment.

At least we’re beginning to recognize that the people who need help are part of our community — our family members, our friends. Kudos to Winston-Salem for coming together on Tuesday evening, even if in a small way, to increase treatment options. And by Winston-Salem, I mean city council, the Gateway YWCA and the West Salem neighborhood.

The YWCA came before city council with a rezoning request to allow Hawley House, a women’s substance abuse residential recovery facility in West Salem, to increase from six to 10 beds. Incredibly, not one neighbor appeared before city council arguing that it would undermine their property values or put their families’ safety at risk. And the West Salem Neighborhood Association, which has maintained a rocky relationship with a free needle exchange at a local church, even came out in support of the rezoning request.

“The increase in the opioid epidemic and the number of phone calls that we get, we just have had a tremendous amount of disappointment to those women that are really trying to seek help,” Director Kristin O’Leary told city council. “I have another program called Project New Start, where I go in the Forsyth County Detention Center and do a Bible study with the ladies in the jail. And a lot of those women are in jail for a drug-related crime, and would like an opportunity to come to the Hawley House as well.” She added that the women will be able to take advantage of an abbreviated version of Hawley House’s regular 9-12-month residential program.

City council members are usually loath to go against neighborhood associations in their wards, so South Ward Councilman John Larson must have taken pleasure in talking up Hawley House.

“We hear a lot in this city of concerns of, ‘We don’t want it in my neighborhood.’these various programs that are designed to assist clients, people in need, special needs,” he said. “And everybody gets concerned: ‘They’re gonna come in my neighborhood, devalue property, they’re gonna bring in crime, they’re gonna do all these things.’ And I think Hawley House is an example of how an organization such as yours works within the neighborhood fabric, is a contributing element, and has in fact has strengthened the diversity of neighborhood, providing a valuable service for the community.”


  1. The problem with providing addicts “help” is that there is very little research into the main treatment modality, the 12 Step Program, an alternative for opioid and cocaine addiction is the use of various pharmaceuticals to block the affected neuro-receptors, and there’s harm reduction to consider as well. Not all of these treatments work for everyone. They all depend on the commitment of the addict. Needle exchanges, free condoms, etc. If there were an agreement regarding best practices and guidance about what would work for a particular individual I’d feel a lot better. I do know that treatment CAN BE a money mill that only exists for the insurance dollars and that forcing people into treatment before they are ready themselves is usually not successful.

    • Another truism is that the City of Greensboro and the Westerwood Neighborhood Association work together to screw people not in the fold, the same as they do during any downtown squabble, then make everything look all normal by posting apartments you can rent there, and art, the city loves art; why, Westmoreland is the biggest BS artist of all time.

  2. Sounds like Kay Swofford’s son who gets away with a lot given his Momma’s the Treasurer of the neighborhood association–she’s, in other words, rich and white: not all there–it’ll be an embarrassment to all when he finally gets busted but not a surprise to most who’ve been watching such activity for years–he’ll be busted secretly, so no one rich and white looks bad in front of the police, who run others up the flagpole so as to promote the neighborhood association and the police.

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