Pubdate: Mon, 04 Dec 2000
Source: Wall Street Journal (US)
Copyright: 2000 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Contact:  200 Liberty Street, New York, NY 10281
Fax: (212) 416-2658
Author: David L. Rosenbloom


There are important lessons in your report on Marc Weill's cocaine problem 
(Money & Investing, Nov. 22). He has a treatable brain disease. If he stays 
in treatment long enough, keeps a job and has the support of family and 
friends, he should do well. Relapse is possible and should be followed by 
more treatment, just as if he had diabetes or asthma. That is the way it 
ought to be for everyone with drug and alcohol disease.

Unfortunately, Mr. Weill is the exception. People with his problem who work 
at lower levels or in smaller companies can't get treatment because most 
private health plans still discriminate against alcohol and drug disease. 
When they mess up at work, they are fired and wind up in the overburdened 
public treatment system. There should be equal insurance coverage for all 
diseases, including mental, alcohol and drug diseases. For example, all 
federal employees and dependents will have this equal coverage starting 
Jan. 1, 2001.

Worse still, if Mr. Weill bought his cocaine on the street, he could have 
been arrested and sent to prison for a very long time. It is unfair, 
ineffective and expensive to send some people to jail and others to 
treatment for exactly the same problem. Mr. Weill is being handled the 
right way. We should stop sending non-violent people with drug or alcohol 
disease to prison when it would be cheaper and more effective to send them 
to treatment and help them get jobs.

David L. Rosenbloom, Director, Join Together, Boston University School of 
Public Health, Boston
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