Pubdate: Sun, 10 Feb 2002
Source: New Haven Register (CT)
Copyright: 2002, New Haven Register
Author: Sandra Dirienzo


Melanie D. Rossacci's letter states when Brian Warner killed himself in 
jail he was scheduled to be interviewed by a drug treatment program "the 
next working day" and that the courts had to keep public safety in mind.

The young man shoplifted.

Does Rossacci even have a clue what "detox" feels like? Probably not. I do 
and it was the single most painful physical and emotional experience of my 
life, including childbirth. You feel like you're going to die and you might 
as well end it before you have to die a slow, painful death.

Warner was a friend of my son and being a young man probably did not even 
realize that no one ever died from a heroin detox. Alcohol yes; heroin no.

I have studied drug/alcohol counseling and have worked in one of the 
treatment programs Rossacci refers to. I have also been a client in drug 
programs and have been clean and sober for a few years now after doing a 
"cold turkey" detox at home alone.

I know for a fact that beds are more often than not unavailable and that an 
interview is not a guarantee that a bed will be provided. Meanwhile, Warner 
would have continued to detox alone in a jail cell.

Letter writer Robert Hargrove was right on the money with his comments 
regarding the system and the need for more long-term residential sober 
housing and a 12-step program. I have sat in courtrooms and have seen 
little evidence of the diversion to substance abuse programs Rossacci 
refers to in her letter.

What I have observed is a system that is overburdened and understaffed and 
uneducated in the disease of drug addiction. The stigma regarding drug 
addiction remains.

What most bothers me is the fact that no one sees that if we really 
rehabilitated people in the revolving door of our prison system, our 
communities would have less crime, less tax burden and more productive 
citizens. But rehab is a big money making business run by people with fancy 
degrees and no real feel for the addict.

Taxpayers spend millions each year housing prisoners who are committing 
crimes in the name of their addiction. I know the so-called drug treatment 
program in our prison system a " it is simply not enough. People wait 
months to attend a "Tier One" program for one week and wait a few more 
months to attend self-help meetings twice a week. Insufficient.

How many more people do we have to find dead in their jail cells before we 
wake up and actually help people and in turn help our whole society?

Sandra Dirienzo

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