Oklahoma was recently selected from among more than 30 other states to receive an $8.4 million federal grant to prevent substance abuse among teenagers. Our application for this three-year grant was judged the best in the nation.
That is a tribute to how far we have come in getting serious about the terrible problems associated with drug and alcohol addiction.
You may recall the task force I appointed several years ago to look at how Oklahoma was responding to the problem of chemical dependency. I intentionally chose people who were working on the front lines of that battle -- drug and alcohol counselors and people from law enforcement.
They said we needed to do a better job. One of the most important reforms they suggested -- a reform I signed into law last year -- increased the membership on the board that governs our Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. Now we have three professionals from the field of addiction treatment helping guide that agency.
The task force also urged better coordination of available funds for addiction prevention. This new grant does that -- it focuses all of the grant money on community-level prevention programs, rather than scattering it throughout state government as we had too often done in the past.
In my 1999 inaugural, I set some important goals for Oklahoma. Those goals included reducing divorce and child and domestic abuse -- and reducing alcoholism and drug addiction, which are all too often at the root of those other family and social problems.
That takes three coordinated efforts -- effective prevention programs, good treatment programs and tough enforcement of the law. Oklahoma has made real progress in the past few years in each of those areas.
Working together, we can cut the awful costs of addiction and restore Oklahoma families to health.