Pubdate: Fri, 12 May 2000
Source: Baltimore Sun (MD)
Copyright: 2000 The Baltimore Sun, a Times Mirror Newspaper.
Authors: Robert Welsh, Eric Sterling and William P. Jenkins
Note: Eric E. Sterling is president of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation.


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 

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.


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
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