Pubdate: Tue, 20 Jun 2000
Date: 06/20/2000
Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)
Author: Suzanne Hughes

Following a recent "20/20" program, "Drinking: Are You in Control?" Dr.
Nancy Snyderman suggested that Americans begin a dialogue about treatment
for alcoholism. We couldn't agree more.

The Missouri Recovery Network is one of 19 community support programs
nationwide funded by the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Part of
our mission is to close the gaps between treatment and 12-step programs.

Unfortunately, the "20/20" segment stirred controversy and allowed
several so-called experts to fire blame in all directions.

There is no one way to recover from alcoholism. The answer is not to
discount one treatment option for another, but to work together to
fund research and broaden treatment options for active alcoholics.

The show did little to address the larger issue: alcoholism as a
nationwide public health crisis.

Missourians pay $1,000 per capita in taxes annually for alcoholics and
addicts in the criminal justice system, the welfare system, the public
health and mental health systems, and for higher auto and accident
insurance premiums. Since 80 percent of all alcoholics work full-time,
they are costing businesses in lost productivity and higher
absenteeism and an increase of more than 300 percent in medical costs.

The public payoff for fully treating those with addiction disease is
huge. Every $1 invested in treatment yields between $4 and $7 in
reduced drug-related crimes, criminal justice costs and theft alone.

By far, the most gratifying benefit of treatment is the return of the
alcoholic to being a productive member of society who works, votes,
pays taxes and becomes involved in his or her community.

Treatment for alcoholism is a win-win situation for individuals, for
communities and businesses, and for society.

Suzanne Hughes,
Interim Director,
Missouri Recovery Network,
Jefferson City