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Interim report envisions substance abuse treatment center at Catawba Hospital

Catawba Treatment Center artists rendering
An artist's rendering of what a substance-use disorder treatment facility at Catawba might look like.

Back in the 1850s, the campus that now houses the Catawba Hospital was the Roanoke Red Sulphur Springs Resort. It later became a tuberculosis sanatorium and ultimately a state psychiatric hospital.

Delegate Sam Rasoul is a Democrat from Roanoke who says it should also include a state-of-the-art facility for treating substance-use disorders and helping people with recovery. "Our mental health care system here in Virginia is in crisis," Rasoul notes. "And what we'd love to do is to take the Catawba campus and transform that and have it so it can be a beacon that can be replicated all around the commonwealth focusing on substance-use disorder and how we can better tackle our mental health challenges."

A new report from the state shows that cases of substance-use disorder are expected to increase 37% over the next decade.

Senator Creigh Deeds is a Democrat from Bath County who says addressing substance-use disorder should be a priority. "I think this is a good idea," Deeds says. "As we've looked at over the long haul our focus has to be on providing services to the community."

In the next few weeks, lawmakers will receive a series of recommendations for how to transform the Catawba Hospital into a substance-use disorder treatment facility that could be replicated all around Virginia.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.