Update: Alaska’s Title 47 law
The Salvation Army’s Clitheroe Center reports progress in helping chronic inebriates.
by Lauren Maxwell –
Four months after Title 47 began to be enforced, CBS 11’s Lauren Maxwell in Anchorage visited the Salvation Army’s Clitheroe Center to see if it’s actually helping alcoholics sober up. New Frontier printed a story when the program began; it ran on Nov. 23, 2009 (Vol. 27, No. 19).
It’s been just over four months since a local alcohol treatment program started accepting a different type of client, people who didn’t want to be there, but have to by law. The law is called Title 47, and although it’s been on the books for some time, only recently has it been enforced.
Title 47 is being used in a pilot program for public inebriates. In a typical scenario, police or community service crews pick up someone off the streets considered to be a danger to themselves. Once they receive basic medical care they are taken to The Salvation Army’s Clitheroe Center and, if a judge signs the order, committed to the treatment facility for 30 days.
Clitheroe director, Robert Hefflesays the idea is to help people get to a place where they can begin to make rational decisions about their future.
“We are here to use Title 47 as a tool to help somebody become sober enough so that they can make healthy decisions for themselves,” says Heffle. And sometimes, he says, it really is a question of life or death.
“If you get picked up in the middle of December in a snow bank it’s highly likely that if you continue that pattern you are going to die,” says Heffle.
But the idea isn’t just to offer temporary safety, it’s to give inebriates a shot at recovery. Clitheroe workers say of the 30-plus people ordered into the program, slightly more than half have opted to stay beyond the mandated 30 days for further treatment.
Heffle says that’s a sign the program is working. He goes on to say he believes getting public inebriates off the streets and sober for even 30 days is an accomplishment in itself.
“We often want to look at the chronic public inebriate with outcomes and expectations,” says Heffle. “The outcome that they are going to get a job and they are going to get housing and they are going to get all these great things. The outcome that I’m looking for is that they stay sober because the rest will come.”
Heffle says he hopes the legislature will agree and fund the program for a second year.
For more information about The Salvation Army’s Clitheroe Center, visit: salvationarmy.org/clitheroe.
Bill arrived in The Salvation Army Clitheroe Center’s STU (Specialized Treatment Unit) program last November. Like most, he did not plan to stay. As time passed, Bill began to see things in a different light. When his 30 days of court-mandated treatment concluded, he asked to remain in the program, knowing he wouldn’t survive long if he began drinking again. After four months in treatment, Bill shared that his sobriety is a day-to-day process, but for the first time in years he has a renewed sense of hope and is looking forward to his future.