Though 72,000 Americans receive federal disability payments for abuse of drugs and alcohol, no more than one-third of them are being treated for these addictions. Their plight is part of this nation's failure to make substance-abuse treatment more plentiful and accessible.
Fortunately, more enlightened policies are taking shape. Missouri is about to make a good start with an $11.3 million federal grant to improve the substance-abuse treatment system in St. Louis and St. Louis County. The area is one of 19 nationwide that will get special grants over five years from the National Center for Substance Abuse Treatment.
The grant will make the St. Louis area's treatment program more comprehensive. Part of the money will help the city and county set up central intake facilities to assess an addict's needs. The facility will not only point the individual to the right treatment services, but provide help for housing, family counseling, employment and health care.
Even a grant of this size won't accommodate all residents seeking ways to kick drug and alcohol problems. Michael D. …