The city of New Haven has attempted to officially fight drug addiction this month with the help of several citywide initiatives.

In an overall effort to promote the city’s ongoing attempt to limit and prevent illegal drug use, New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. declared September to be “Substance Abuse Awareness Month.” The Office of Substance Abuse Policy and Prevention planned a number of activities this month to raise awareness about drug and alcohol addiction and to increase access to treatment and recovery.

“Our goal is to improve the quality of life in New Haven by reducing community rates of substance abuse and related harms,” office Director Esther Armmand said in a press release.

Armmand added that the decision attempts to follow suit with the National Treatment Plan Initiative to Improve Substance Abuse Treatment in recognizing addiction as a treatable illness that requires positive action. In addition, the decision reflects a desire for improvement in alcohol and substance abuse addiction treatment.

Kevin Kane of Brad4d Advertising and Public Relations Inc. said heightened awareness of drug abuse in New Haven and the treatment of addicted persons was the city’s main goal.

The major event that the city has planned was a bus trip from New Haven to Hartford, where participants would join the Third Annual Walk for Recovery from Alcohol and Substance Abuse, which is sponsored by the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery.

Along with addressing drug and alcohol abuse, the month is also meant to celebrate the successes of individuals who have engaged in treatment and to recognize men and women in the treatment field who help those with addictions.

But the city planned no formal increase in law enforcement and drug abuse prevention. The lack of specific measures taken, and the focus on September alone, was seen by some as frivolous.

“I think it is admirable that the city has recognized drug abuse as a problem,” Marie Sherer ’06 said. “But they need to think of a way to extend this program to make a more lasting impact.”

Sherer added that the program would benefit from more public attention and publicity.

But the substance abuse office aims at achieving several objectives during “Substance Abuse Awareness Month.” For 2002, it has provided treatment accessibility for individuals within 48 hours, leadership training and development for reducing substance abuse, and also social marketing for addiction recovery.

In addition, the office will increase its interaction with other government agencies. These agencies will aid in reducing substance abuse by building interdepartmental partnerships to support an integrated, broader plan of action within city government.

The office will also continue to support programs in substance abuse prevention training in five elementary and middle schools. Three after-school programs also have been begun, and 50 New Haven businesses are to receive training to reduce underage drinking.