The Federal Way City Council has approved spending $20,000 for a trial of the controversial Prometa drug treatment program, for which neighboring Pierce County recently cut funding.
City Council member Jack Dovey suggested the pilot program after a former employee, David Smart, told Dovey three months ago that he’d stopped using methamphetamine after being treated with Prometa.
“I was addicted to meth for 22 years,” Smart told the council Tuesday night. “I lived and breathed meth. That’s all I knew.”
Smart said he wasn’t able to break free from his addiction until he received the Prometa treatment.
“It got rid of the cravings,” said Smart, 41.
Kelly Nelson, 37, told the council he learned about the Prometa program from Smart. Because of the Prometa treatment, Nelson, of Federal Way, said he’s also stopped taking meth.
Councilman Dean McColgan acknowledged the program has been controversial in Pierce County. He said the City Council needs to understand the treatment and work out how to administer the trial before it’s started.
Early next year, the City of Federal Way will form a group of legal and mental health professionals to study the treatment program and determine how to administer the trial if the group recommends Prometa, assistant city manager Iwen Wang said Wednesday.
The Pierce County Council suspended about $175,000 in funding for the drug treatment program earlier this month because of questions an audit raised about its effectiveness.
Pierce County Council members also became concerned when several Prometa supporters admitted they owned stock in Hythiam Inc., the company that licenses the treatment program.
In April, the Pierce County Council had agreed to spend $400,000 to use Prometa in county drug court. The treatment program uses generic drugs and counseling to reduce cravings in addicts.
In Federal Way, the money to treat about eight people will come from higher-than-anticipated tax and fee revenues.
The City Council unanimously approved the Prometa trial as part of its budget adjustment Tuesday night. Final action will take place Dec. 4.
Before Tuesday’s City Council meeting, McColgan expressed concerns about Prometa and how the city would administer the trial.
“It’s probably a good program,” he said. “But there are a lot of good programs that need money that help a lot of people.”
Dovey remains optimistic about Prometa. He said he fired Smart several times in the past when he wouldn’t show up to work at Dovey’s wireless telecommunications company. Dovey said he didn’t know then that Smart was a meth addict. Dovey said he recently rehired him to work part time.
“Basically he changed his whole life,” Dovey said. “There are a lot more David Smarts in Federal Way that have the same problem. We want them to be productive citizens again.”
Smart said he failed to kick the addiction with inpatient and outpatient treatment programs, 12-step groups and shock treatment. He said he took his first Prometa treatment April 25 and that he hasn’t use meth since.
A group called enddependence.org paid for him to be treated through the Pierce County Alliance.
“I went and got my Prometa on my way to the dope man’s house,” Smart said. “I never made it to the dope man’s house and I’ve never had another craving since.”
Steve Maynard: 253-597-8647