Pubdate: Fri, 28 Feb 2003
Source: Detroit Free Press (MI)
Copyright: 2003 Detroit Free Press
Author: Calvin R. Trent
Bookmark: (Drug Courts)
Bookmark: (Treatment)


Your Feb. 23 editorial "No Smoking: State ban for restaurants is healthy
choice" took the right stand by supporting banning smoking in restaurants.
Tobacco addiction is the No. 1 preventable health problem in our city, state
and the nation. We have found that raising taxes on tobacco and limiting
where addicts can use have been important motivators in getting smokers to
consider quitting. 

Another piece on the same day, Ron Dzwonkowski's column ("Courts for Cures:
Prison alternatives make sense for state and for substance abusers"), was
even more important. The column clearly detailed the economic and human
benefits for keeping first-time offenders and nonviolent probations and
parolees from going to jail. 

It is so important that persons of influence endorse the changes in
attitudes about addiction and addicts, and about how to rid our communities
of the devastation it causes. We must recognize that treatment and
prevention are the most valuable tools in fighting drug addiction. The drug
court movement is a great example to this change in attitude. The problem is
that as of this time, no investment is made in treatment. The limited
resources of the state substance abuse coordinating agencies are not enough
to serve adequately the current client population, let alone the ones coming
from new efforts to move offenders back to the community. 

The new approaches can be successful, but without an investment in treatment
as clients transition from the corrections systems, I fear they will just be
recycled with more serious offenses. 

Calvin R. Trent, Department of Health, Bureau of Substance Abuse

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