Pubdate: Mon, 19 Aug 2002
Source: Tampa Tribune (FL)
Copyright: 2002, The Tribune Co.
Section: Nation/World, page 10
Author: Michael Palmieri, Zephyrhills


Regarding "Heroin Costs Addict 'Last Chance' " (Metro, Aug. 12):

Your headline should have read "Failed Treatment Program Kills Man."

Treatment programs, jails and prisons will not cure addictions. They may 
separate the individual, for a time, from that which he craves but will 
cure nothing. Addiction to substances is a learned process that starts at 
an early age. The child who behaves well and gets a cookie is not unlike 
Pavlov's dog waiting for the bell. Further, addictions can take many forms 
- - gambling, sex and risk-taking adventures are but a few - but we tend to 
focus the most on illegal drug addictions. In fact, there are far more 
fatalities and injuries from the use of legal substances than all illegal 
substances combined!

The fact that we spend billions of dollars every year and incarcerate more 
citizens than Communist China does should give us a hint that arresting 
drug users and abusers isn't working. The real facts are that millions of 
people are going to work every day, paying their taxes and using addicting 
substances on a regular basis without having to go through treatment or 
detox programs. They are able to live long and happy lives without the 
government's intrusion. Addiction can be cured only by the individual who 
wants to be cured and by funding programs that work.

Michael Palmieri, Zephyrhills

The writer is the former executive director of Florida Organization for 
Reformed Marijuana Laws.
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