Treatment Is Key To Drug War Efforts 

Treatment Is Key To Drug War Efforts 
Posted by FoM on November 24, 2000 at 08:41:43 PT
By Thom Marshall
Source: Houston Chronicle
For 23 years Michael Schiltz worked as a volunteer, answering an area hot line, providing crisis intervention, often referring other parents to drug rehab facilities for their children. For almost 20 years he also has served as a catechist and a facilitator in teen programs at an area Catholic church. So, long before his own four children were born (all are under age 18), Schiltz was hearing about, working with, getting to know, and learning from teen-agers, about their good times and bad. 
Schiltz is 50, which means his own teen-age years were experienced in the 1960s, that psychedelic decade when so many young people were rebelling against the establishment, demonstrating against the Vietnam War and experimenting with a wide variety of illegal substances. And those who didn't experiment learned about drugs and their effects from friends and from the movies and rock music and the media coverage. In addition, Schiltz and his wife both have master's degrees. However, despite that accumulation of experience and education, Schiltz said one of his children became involved with drugs and managed to conceal that involvement for two years. Effective Program Elusive:Schiltz said he could tell by behavior changes that there was a problem -- cut classes, failing grades. The child was tested twice, but the illegally obtained prescription drugs the child consumed before those tests did not show up in the results. It wasn't until August that Schiltz finally discovered the child did indeed have an addiction problem that involved a wide range of substances -- basically, whatever could be obtained, and often consumed with alcohol. "I immediately sought help," Schiltz said. "However, I realized $5,000 per month for inpatient treatment was for the insured and/or independently wealthy, which I was neither. No problem. I had been counseling and providing drug rehab referrals for 23 years at the hot line, I would now seek the assistance of the various referrals." What he learned next came as a shock, he said, and left him wondering about the true worth of all those volunteer hot line hours. "I discovered that for every three referral calls made, I would end up with nine new referrals and no real direction of where to go for effective treatment," he said. After four weeks of diligent searching, he located Cornerstone, a program that seemed worthy, in part, because it is "parent-intensive," Schiltz said. "Which it should be, assuming you have parents that will understand and accept the addiction as a disease," and providing the parents aren't battling their own problems so that they cannot commit the necessary time. Parents, Teachers Must Learn:This man believed for years that he was providing worthwhile support in drug war efforts. Then his own family suffered a casualty. What he believes now, he said, is: "The drug war is a total failure if the goal was to win it. Nearly everyone is a victim in this war. Regardless of where we start surveying the battlefield, the conclusion will be the same: We have lost. Not only have we lost the war, we don't provide or have adequate MASH-type units to treat the numerous causalities. We lie to ourselves thinking that we have adequate treatment programs, but in reality we are just adjusting the blinders so we don't have to see the damage." He said funding should be redirected from the huge enforcement budget to increasing and improving treatment programs. He favors treatment programs operated within the public education system but said they should be "parent driven." We also should have more teachers, he said, and they should be trained "to recognize and understand the problems associated with drug use and the recovery process." He said we should increase teacher salaries "but demand better teacher performance." He also believes that decriminalizing drug use and legalizing some illegal substances would "bring the war out of the underground and into the open battlefield." When we talked earlier this week, Schiltz said his child had been straight for 75 days. Thom Marshall's e-mail address is: thom.marshall chron.comSource: Houston Chronicle (TX)Author: Thom MarshallPublished: November 23, 2000Copyright: 2000 Houston Chronicle Address: Viewpoints Editor, P.O. Box 4260 Houston, Texas 77210-4260 Fax: (713) 220-3575 Contact: viewpoints Website: Forum: Articles:The Truth Be Told Not Necessarily So Front Lines of The Drug War War Weak, Many Readers Say
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