Community hospitals should be offering drug treatment...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

May 12, 2000

Community hospitals should be offering drug treatment

As a member of the West Timonium Heights Community Association, I was really impressed with Dan Morhaim's column "Hospitals can help solve drug problems" (Opinion Commentary, May 5).

He not only presented facts and figures about a complex problem, but offered a compassionate, no-nonsense solution.

All communities have alcohol and drug problems. What better place to handle treatment and follow-up programs than our community hospitals?

Their 24-hour schedules could accommodate even addicts with bizarre round-the-clock work schedules that rule out 9-to-5 treatment programs.(Yes, there are working alcoholics and drug users.)

I certainly commend efforts such as that of Mayor Martin O'Malley and the Baltimore police to clear street corners of drug dealers and to decrease killings. But their job is nearly impossible if nothing is done about the root of the problem through education and treatment and follow-up programs for current addicts.

Helping addicts to recover is like throwing a pebble in a pond: Benefits ripple out in all directions.

I agree with Dr. Morhaim. It is time to play serious ball: Dollars up.

Robert Welsh

Timonium

Dan Morhaim has the right idea. Indeed, using hospitals to treat drug addiction was part of the recommendation of the Mayor's Working Group on Drug Policy Reform (submitted to Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke in Nov. 1993) that all primary care providers be encouraged to provide substance abuse treatment.

Hospital-based treatment was also an explicit recommendation of the Jan. 1995 "Report of the Grand Jury of Baltimore City," a panel charged with investigating the city's drug problem.

These recommendations, which could save Maryland billions of dollars, have not been acted upon, because of the vicious stereotyping of addicts and a lack of political integrity.

Drug addicts are stereotyped as terrible people because they are criminal. But most addicts suffer terribly and treating them as law-breakers interferes with our ability to provide humane treatment.

National drug policy leaders talk about drug treatment, but fail to deliver.

U.S. drug czar Gen. Barry McCaffrey fights for more money for the Pentagon for Colombia, not for the kind of treatment Dr. Morhaim argued for so well.

Eric E. Sterling

Washington

The writer is president of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation.

Drug war has failed even to keep prisons clean

Vice President Al Gore wants to spend $500 million drug testing prison inmates ("Gore calls for prison drug tests," May 3).

What does it imply when, after 60 years of drug prohibition and hundreds of billions of dollars spent on the drug war, we still do not even have drug-free prisons?

William P. Jenkins

Bel Air

Taylor deserves kudos for backing gun bill, resort

I was stunned and appalled by the intense criticism of House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr. for supporting gun safety and the Rocky Gap resort and conference facility ("House Speaker Taylor is hit with unprecedented criticism," May 7).

His constituents are seriously ill-informed and their criticism unjust.

Although the technology is admittedly not perfect, Gov. Parris N. Glendening's trigger lock law can only help reduce the loss of innocent life, particularly children's, that we see regularly from gun accidents.

As for Rocky Gap, far from being "a playground for the rich," it is a facility that helps bring business, commerce and education to Western Maryland.

My wife and I recently stopped there for dinner, and saw sessions being held for "Women in Law Enforcement." I hardly think our dedicated law enforcement professionals qualify as "the rich."

When business and professional groups can bring their sessions to the state, all regions benefit.

William D. Hakkarinen

Cockeysville

Tense city doesn't need more citizens carrying guns

Gregory Kane's column "In debate on Norris, caller plays race card" (May 6) lost me entirely when it said the key to reducing crime is to let citizens carry firearms.

If anyone and everyone in Baltimore had a gun in his or her pocket, I would be too paralyzed with fear to walk out of my front door.

With all the racial tension in this town, I'd not feel safe being either black, white or in-between if anyone I encounter could have a gun at the ready.

Thaddeus Paulhamus

Baltimore

Social Security funds would be safe on Wall Street

Mike Lane's May 5 editorial cartoon was very misleading.

Texas Gov. George W. Bush has proposed that a portion of Social Security funds be put into private investment accounts. It's true that these accounts would be active in the stock market, but they would be no more at risk than the 401(k) monies currently active in the market.

I guess Mr. Lane believes that this economy is being driven by President Clinton's expert economic policy. Wrong: This economy is driven by the workers who have money invested on Wall Street.

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