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Luceille Fleming Dies at 91

Luceille Fleming

Luceille Fleming, Drug and Alcohol Treatment Advocate, Dies at 91

In the society we live in there are countless help forums and programs for almost every problem under the sun. Have you ever wondered how that process happens and who could possibly handle not only putting it together, but keeping it together? Well Luceille Fleming was one of those people. Luceille Fleming, was a devoted and powerful advocate for people struggling with alcohol and drug problems. Luceille Fleming was a very sought after candidate, working for six governors in two states. Unfortunately, this hard working advocate died at the age of 91, on Wednesday in Columbus.

Luceille Fleming should be remembered for her fierce and dedicated work for saving countless lives of the people who suffered from addiction and not only them, but she gave family members their loved ones and lives back too. To Fleming the official awards and honors meant very little, but hearing from people in recovery is what made her feel accomplishment and pride in her work. Fleming stated, “A young woman came up to me and said, ‘You saved my life.’ You can’t have a job better than that.”

Fleming’s journey on helping addicts and their families started in Pennsylvania. Fleming was 65, at the age of retirement and had been running Pennsylvania’s alcohol and drug programs for five years when Gov. Celeste enticed Fleming to come to Ohio for the new cabinet-level position. In 1989 she was appointed by former Gov. Richard F. Celeste, to run and lead the newly created Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services (ODADAS). Astoundingly, Fleming held this position until her retirement in 2003. Her goal and slogan was simple for the new program: “We can turn drug addicts into taxpayers.”

This goal proved to be very successful as the program established a reputation as a national leader in quality, cost effective addiction prevention, treatment, and recovery support services and programs. Luceille Fleming became an icon in the recovery community and many looked up to her strong work ethic and determination. Gov. Celeste stated, “She proved to be phenomenal public servant for the state of Ohio.” He continued, “She didn’t play favorites. She got the job done and worked extraordinarily hard.” Gov. Celeste also stated, “I was blessed to have her as a colleague.” Fleming was also reappointed by Gov. George V. Voinovich and Gov. Bob Taft, because of her tremendous work.

Gov. Taft stated that during her time at Ohio the drug and alcohol treatment program became a model for the country.” Fleming worked with the agency by establishing and expanding programs for women and juveniles. Fleming also created therapeutic communities in prisons that reintegrated addicts back into society, advocated for drug courts, and was able to build up millions of dollars in federal grants for the state of Ohio. The ground work that Fleming laid down for those to follow, allowed Ohio as a community to not only help the addicts and their families, but help the community become a better and safer place.

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