Letters to the Editor

From the week of October 10, 2002

Trick or Treatment

Courting disaster: I very much enjoyed Stuart Steers's "Looking for a Fix," in the September 26 issue. You can tell a lot about a society by how it treats certain groups within it -- children, women and sick people in particular.

When it comes to the disease of addiction, courts and law-enforcement officials are quick to prosecute symptoms as a felony. Is it any wonder that the same courts and law-enforcement agencies are too busy to deal with child abuse and domestic violence?

As for drug court, the opponents are correct: It is a gross waste of resources. The Fifth Amendment states that the accused shall enjoy the right to cross-examine adverse witnesses. In common English, an adverse witness is a victim. However, in drug prosecutions, the accused never enjoys this right. If there is any victim in such a case, it is the addict.

Oh, yes -- society is also victimized when politicians prosecute the sick and leave those who perpetrate violence against women and children free to roam the streets.

David Noland
Denver

This means war: That in the year 2002, Colorado and the other 49 states continue to engage in the fantasies and the realities of the "War on Drugs" and forced "treatment" as one of its solutions is something the public will just have to deal with. Drugs and alcohol do not cause or make people do anything; people cause and make things happen. If you are a rotten person, then using drugs and alcohol will most likely expose this. As I understand it, the ancients saw it that way.

It's modern man's paranoid world where something is always wrong and, even worse, could be wrong that fuels the ongoing war of the state versus the individual, with no end in sight. This is my body, and although it could be argued that my body belongs to the state, I still believe that I should have the right to ingest any substance that I want and in turn fuel my fantasies and realities. Yes, just like the state.

Carl Andrew Sutton
Denver

Lessons learned: I am a graduate of Metropolitan State College; I received my B.A. in Human Services in December 2000. I am currently serving a three-year Colorado Department of Corrections sentence at a halfway house.

My recovery lies in the truth, not in politics or what can be proven hypothetically. The applications and requirements set forth by the Alcohol Drug Abuse Division and the Colorado Department of Human Services for transitional residential treatment "lacks a vital human service component," according to ADAD and CDHS. "The Cost-Effectiveness of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Programs" report submitted on October 31 states that Colorado ranks second in severity nationwide on the overall Substance Abuse Problem Index, and Colorado ranks last in the nation in terms of state investments in substance-abuse prevention, treatments and research. For every $100 spent on programs that address the wreckage of substance abuse in Colorado, six cents are spent on treatment, prevention and research.

The judicial system continues to fail. I stand as an advocate for the men/women who struggle in this system. The judicial system works in the medical model, a closed system that is problem-centered and problem-focused. Teaching that addiction is a disease creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I pursued a Human Services degree for this very reason. It deals with problems the medical model has no room for: beliefs, attitudes, cultural and social variables. If people believe they are powerless, they are likely to act in a powerless way.

Not only is the disease-model belief inaccurate, but it is destructive. This model creates more of the very problems it allegedly solves. When people believe they can find their way out of addiction without outside help, they are more likely to wake from their drug-induced despair and build a life they value more than a life of drug/alcohol alone. Most important, when people believe alcohol/drugs are a way of life, a way to cope with the world and not something they are hopelessly imprisoned by, they may be more inclined to make the necessary changes not only in their own world, but in the world they live in. People can learn what's necessary to live a meaningful life and put that knowledge into positive actions.

I don't need a psychiatrist to know that being confident in my ability to achieve something for myself has much to do with whether or not I will actually make an effort to succeed at something I set my mind to do. We all create ourselves based on our beliefs, and what people believe to be true about themselves dictates how they behave in the world.

A common-sense concept consistent with the Navajo culture combines beauty, goodness, order, harmony and everything that is positive or ideal. Navajos say you should "think and speak in a positive way." This view reflects that thought, and language has the power to shape reality and control events.

Richard Montoya
Aurora

Steal yourself: Obviously, hard-core drug use is tragic, and the treatment of the disease is one of the trickiest endeavors a government can undertake. Again, obviously, money is a primary factor in why addicts cannot receive the attention they require, as mentioned by Stuart Steers in his story. How about the money spent on ridiculous methods designed to discourage the American public from using marijuana? (Eleven billion is the figure I've seen kicked around.)

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