Pubdate: Wed, 10 Jul 2002
Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune (FL)
Copyright: 2002 Sarasota Herald-Tribune
Author: Miriam Lacher


Regarding your heartfelt article "Substance Abuse: Our Common Enemy," in 
which Tom Randle, newly elected chairman of the Sarasota Coalition of 
Substance Abuse, reported on the organization's objectives:

While much of the reporting expresses Mr. Randle's perceptions, there are 
some statements that warrant correction. Sarasota Memorial Hospital does 
screen for substance abuse. In the emergency room, as well as in the 
nursing units, questions related to substance abuse are asked as part of 
the assessment tool. Currently, there are efforts under way to expand that 

In regard to the statement "our community doesn't want for treatment," a 
misperception was cited. This community, similar to thousands across the 
nation, has witnessed the closing of numerous substance abuse treatment 
centers. Whether we're talking about Medicaid, Medicare or the commercial 
insurance/managed care companies, the willingness to pay for treatment is 
abysmal, and state funding is insufficient. The annual cost to the nation 
from alcohol-related problems alone is over $148 billion in lost 
productivity, illness, premature death and crime, inclusive of domestic 

While screening for alcohol and other drug dependencies can improve, where 
will those identified receive treatment?

Coalitions and grass-roots citizens are organizing across the country. The 
outcry is: Demand treatment!

Sarasota can be no exception.

Miriam Lacher

The writer is referral development coordinator, Bayside Center for 
Behavioral Health, Sarasota Memorial Health Care System, Sarasota.
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