Guest Author - Susan Hubenthal
In 2007, let us remind ourselves that the “War on Drugs” is still very much alive. Let us resolve to make an effort to take steps toward ending this harmful, miserable war on people.
How can you do that? Here are 10 steps to get you started
1. Begin by writing the President, your Congressman, Governor, Mayor, other elected officials, and your local newspaper, television & radio stations.
2. Ask for a Public Health Approach to chronic substance abuse and addiction.
3. Encourage our leaders to invest in research, education, drug prevention and treatment rather than criminal sanctions.
4. Demand prompt health care and services to persons suffering from addiction.
5. Increase programs that have been effective, such as prevention, treatment, education and get away from law enforcement procedures that have been ineffective.
6. Demand, above all, that treatment be available to all drug addicted persons.
7. Prevent drug abuse by investing in our young people with honest and truthful drug education.
8. Ask law enforcement to focus on dangerous and violent criminals.
9. Demand decriminalization and focus on developing a healthy, non addicted society.
10. Make the prevention of HIV, AIDS, and other blood born diseases a priority.
Too many of our children have died because they became lost in the drug war. Often times, a health insurance policy won’t cover drug treatment because the child doesn’t fit the criteria. I know of one such instance where a young girl was denied treatment coverage because she hadn’t had at least one prior overdose. This sweet young girl finally did have her one overdose. It killed her. Leaving her Mother to cope with the death of her only child and to eventually do battle with the insurance company and the state in which they live to try to force them to acknowledge the death of her child because of draconian drug laws.
Another example was my son, Kelly, who was shut out of a very good drug treatment program. My insurance company initially approved treatment, but later decided to cover only the detox and not inpatient services, because it was not in the city in which we lived. Kelly had been there about a week, just beginning to regain some strength, feeling hopeful about sobriety. He had to leave, he had no insurance of his own, no job, no resources, and I had exhausted all of my options. Kelly came home, still sick, still needing medical care, and a huge bill neither he nor I could afford.
The stories are very similar, among my new grief family. Too many children pushed through the cracks, leaving parents with few resources and little hope. Sadly, not much has changed in the ten years since Kelly’s death. There are many caring, inspirational, intelligent, enlightened people in organizations fighting to make changes in our drug laws. Meanwhile, more and more kids are dying. We must do what we can to save them!