Walk-in treatment is available for homeless addicts
The Sun's article "Candidates plot strategy for drug battle" (Aug. 15) provided incomplete information about drug treatment, stating that those seeking drug treatment must wait 11 days for outpatient treatment.
While we are far from realizing the goal of treatment on demand, some treatment options are available on a walk-in basis.
At Health Care for the Homeless (HCH), individuals seeking treatment may walk in and begin treatment on the same day -- or on the following day if they arrive after 1 p.m. The only qualification is that they be homeless.
After completing a 1-2 hour intake interview, they may attend outpatient groups. They are also offered individual counseling once a week.
In addition, homeless people can receive medical care, social work services (including referrals for food, shelter and clothing) and mental health services.
When their most pressing needs are met, individuals can focus more energy and attention on recovery from addiction.
For some, these services are enough to accomplish their recovery goals. For others, they serve as a bridge to more intensive treatment; they may attend HCH's outpatient program while awaiting inpatient or residential treatment.
For still others, contact with HCH might be the first time they have considered treatment. Our goal in these situations is to offer counseling and education to move them toward treatment.
They might not follow through today or even tomorrow, but the knowledge that treatment is available may stay with them until they are ready to use it.
As anyone who has tried to quit smoking or go on a diet knows, changing a habit often involves many attempts. We never know if this time is just one of many, or the one where we finally break the habit.
The results may sometimes appear insignificant to those who measure such things. But to those whose lives are eased by each contact with a treatment provider, they are the knots on the rope they use to pull themselves up.
The writer is an addiction counselor for Health Care for the Homeless.
Use the welfare surplus to help the working poor
Maryland, like other states, now finds itself with unspent welfare funds and thus has a golden opportunity to help the needy ("1996 welfare law leaves states with windfall," Aug. 29).
While welfare caseloads in the state have decreased by some 65 percent, many who have left welfare for work hardly earn enough to raise their kids, pay for childcare and transportation to jobs located far from home.
Maryland should use some of its funds to help these families rise above poverty. Approaches could include raising the state's earned income tax credit, expanding childcare and providing support for transportation costs for the working poor.
Also, many of those remaining on assistance face significant barriers to employment, including emotional problems, low literacy levels, substance abuse issues and a lack of work experience.
Funds must be targeted to help families overcome these problems that put work out of reach.
The writer is director of Social Concerns for Catholic Charities.
4-H animal husbandry desensitizes children
Rob Hiaasen's article on the relevance of the classic tale, "Charlotte's Web," to the 4-H-ers at the state fair ("Where a spider's a spider, a good hog is just some pig," Aug. 31) shows that, for all the good things 4-H clubs may accomplish, they do one very bad thing: desensitize children to the killing of living creatures.
The children learn early on that an animal's interest in living is superseded by humans' interest in eating it -- even though the human doesn't need to eat the animal to live and be healthy.
With a growing body of evidence linking an animal-based diet to numerous health and environmental problems, this appears even more tragic.
But, what's more important is these children's loss of empathy and sensitivity. This kind of callousness leads to untold human and animal suffering.
Raising, slaughtering and eating animals diminishes all who participate in the practice.
In Rob Hiaasen's article about 4-H-ers at the state fair, the girl profiled raises pigs and sheep.
Pigs are unnamed and doomed to the slaughterhouse. Sheep are treated more like pets -- named, coddled and not eaten.
What does this lack of compassion for the not-so-cuddly teach a child about life?
Why are we surprised that children lash out violently when they are taught to be insensitive to the feelings of others?
4-H-ers demonstrate sacrifice and service
Shame on Rob Hiaasen for his misty-eyed, city-boy version of pig sales at the state fair ("Where a spider's a spider, a good hog is just some pig," Aug 31).
His suggestion that we teach future farmers to love their animals by sparing them from slaughter would quickly put farmers out of business and we would all be eating veggie-burgers.