1992 Finalist
Winners:
City of Little Rock, Arkansas
1992
Publication:
Innovations in American Government Awards
Sponsored By:
Innovations in American Government Awards
Jurisdiction:
Arkansas

The federal "war on drugs" focuses primarily on disrupting the supply chain and punishing drug users, leaving responsibility for related drug treatment and rehabilitation to state and local government agencies. The primary intent of many such programs, historically, has been the treatment of drug addicted adults. The result oftentimes, is that youth drug-users lack the requisite resources to combat their addictions.

Viewing efforts to delay or, preferably, to avoid or reduce youth drug-use to be significant aspects of a comprehensive anti-drug strategy, the City of Little Rock, Arkansas initiated the Fight Back! Insure the Children program. Fight Back forges partnerships between private insurance agencies to insure substance abuse treatment programs for Little Rock's youth from kindergarten through grade twelve. Fight Back reduces the expense of drug treatment, which had cost the City of Little Rock between six and thirty thousand dollars, to ten dollars per youth, prior to the initiation of the program.

Fight Back achieved this cost-savings by creating and purchasing a single insurance premium with a private insurance company. The premium currently covers over twenty-six thousand Little Rock students for four different levels of treatment. The levels range in intensity from level one, which focuses primarily on substance abuse education and counseling, to level four, which consists of intervention, inpatient care, detoxification, and long term drug counseling and treatment.

In the first five months of program operation, Fight Back treated one hundred and five students for drug addiction. Fight Back cites among its greatest achievemens, the treatment of a seventeen year-old Little Rock student who was heavily addicted to inhalants. The teen was found one day so intoxicated that he could neither speak nor recognize his parents. The teen's mother contacted Fight Back and her son was immediately admitted for treatment. Thanks to the insurance negotiated through the Fight Back program, a forty-three day hospitalization followed by post-withdrawal treatment totaling $35,449, cost the family nothing.