Why is heroin wrong but methadone right for our drug...

Letters to the Editor

June 17, 1998

Why is heroin wrong but methadone right for our drug addicts?

Thank you for your report ("Test of heroin maintenance may be launched in Baltimore," June 10). I found two statements particularly thought provoking.

First, Dr. Sally Satel, a psychiatrist, said, questioning the claimed success of the Swiss experiment: "We're being presented with false choices."

We are left to guess what the false choices are. She fails to tell us what she is questioning in the "claimed success" of the Swiss experiment or why. She does not tell us why it is all right to give addicts the powerfully addictive drug methadone, but wrong to give them heroin.

The complete lack of scientific data to justify these statements is typical of the anti-drug moral crusader. She doesn't want us to know the facts.

Researchers have studied 1,146 hard-core addicts for three years as they were given heroin. The published data were accepted by the Swiss people, who voted for the expansion of the program by a two-thirds majority. Dr. Satel, who runs a methadone clinic, would rather have us "coerce" addicts into treatment -- methadone treatment, of course.

Then there was the statement made by David C. Lewis: "In many ways, the biggest prohibition is . . . on the discussion of new solutions to drug abuse." Once again we are tacitly invited to ask why this should be so.

The answer is, of course, that the government does not want us to know the facts. Were the facts disclosed, as they would be in any frank and free discussion of possible alternatives, we should come to see the "war on drugs" for the failed policy that it is.

Pat Dolan

Vancouver, Canada

Heston has to straighten illogical NRA position

I agree with the sentiments expressed in your June 9 editorial regarding Charlton Heston and the National Rifle Association. Mr. Heston has a long way to go and a hard road ahead.

The NRA argues that all types of guns should be freely available because guns don't kill, people do. If this same logic were applied to drugs, it would proclaim that all types of drugs should be freely available because drugs don't become addicts and commit crimes, people do. The NRA must take a closer look at its logic and its policies. We all hope that Mr. Heston can help in these areas.

William A. Hubbard


Coverage of Northern's feat in contest was appreciated

Thank you for the article "Northern High wins travel brochure contest" (June 10, The Education Beat). The event was a triumphant end to an extensive project for all the students and teachers involved, including the students from Forest Park High who won second and third place.

The contest was only a small piece of a large project intended to improve students' success by uniting learning across curricula and even across schools.

A joint project of the Baltimore City Public Schools and the Johns Hopkins University, our Baltimore Learning Communities (BLC) focused on tourism in Baltimore. Students designed a weekend tour of Baltimore for a family of four. Teachers from six high schools (Southwestern, Northern, Forest Park, Dunbar, Walbrook and Douglass) have been meeting for the past year to learn about forming cross-discipline teams.

Math, English, social studies, science and art teachers worked with the students. In algebra, they worked on a cost spreadsheet. In English they conducted research about the city and wrote articles about Baltimore and its attractions. In art they learned about designing an appealing brochure.

Our goal is that students in BLC will have higher grades, better attendance, a lower dropout rate and greater success on high school exit exams than their counterparts. Although the evaluation is still in progress, anecdotal evidence from the teachers and students points toward success.

Arnold Packer


The writer is a senior fellow at the Johns Hopkins University's Institute for Policy Studies.

Hold glaucoma in check with regular eye screenings

On my recent visit to Baltimore as a spokesman for the national Don't Be Blindsided! glaucoma program, I was impressed with the commitment of area health-care providers to educate and treat people with glaucoma.

During the Don't Be Blindsided! campaign in Baltimore, nearly 600 people took advantage of the program's free glaucoma screenings. Those who were identified as being high risk for glaucoma were given physician referrals for a complete eye exam. This screening would not have been possible without the help of the Hoffberger Foundation, NeighborCare, the Orioles, the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Sinai Hospital and the Wilmer Eye Clinic.

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