Your recent series of articles (most recently, Feb. 14) on the declining availability of acute detoxification and ongoing addictions treatment services in the Baltimore area highlights an increasingly severe problem.
As psychiatric consultants to a large, urban emergency room, we think that it is important to emphasize that patients denied substance abuse treatment often do not simply disappear back onto the streets.
Frequently, these patients are channeled into the already overburdened mental health system and end up in state psychiatric hospitals at significant cost to the taxpayers. To be fair, some of these patients do become extremely depressed, suicidal, or psychotic. But others merely seek the safety and security of a hospital to detox and begin their recovery.
Other patients denied substance abuse treatment escalate their antisocial behaviors and end up incarcerated, again at significant cost to the taxpayers, to find the structure, containment, and strictly enforced recovery they sought initially in a much cheaper three-day detox program.
As we all work to establish a national health care plan, and in order to change funding priorities, it must not be forgotten that we all pay for these patients anyway: in prisons, in psychiatric hospitals, in increased crime, in end-stage medical treatment, and in increased health care costs.
Daniel L. Buccino
David U. Cavey
The writers work for the Emergency Psychiatric Consultation Service, Francis Scott Key Medical Center.
Too Many Guns
In his March 1 column, Theo Lippman Jr. reported that the City Council of Kennesaw, Ga., in 1982 required its heads of households to maintain a firearm, after which Kennesaw's burglaries went down from 55 in 1981 to 40 in 1992, even though meanwhile the population doubled. He then proposed that Charles Village might try that approach "for a while as an experiment."
Such wording seems to suggest that since it would only be an experiment without a long-term commitment, no great harm could come of it.
But can we assume that armed heads of households will never use the guns except in reasonable defense of person or property?
Which is worse, a burglary or a gun-caused death in a household which might not have occurred were it gun free?
Moreover, can we assume that once in place those guns will be passed down from responsible owners to gun heirs also responsible?
Many are justly worried about bequeathing our children an increasing national debt.
I say we should also be worried about bequeathing them an increasing abundance of guns.
I was appalled by the actions of a group of Johns Hopkins students who were protesting a display of a Black History Month exhibit.
History is a recording of the events of the past. It is fitting that the many white people who risked and lost their lives to support the freedom of the black man should be honored within that chronicle.
These brave people should be recognized, together with the many who sacrificed their lives in the civil rights movement.
Kobi Little is quoted as saying the display was an "embarrassment" to black students.
No, the actions of the Hopkins protesters are the embarrassment and shame. They are the beneficiaries of the risks taken by many white people who participated in the anti-slave and later, the civil rights movements.
It takes far more courage to put one's life in jeopardy fighting for an unpopular cause than to have a public tantrum within the confines of a coddling university.
Anne R. Klein
We, the people, think that Bill and Hillary Clinton are doing wonderfully well -- and we just hope that those who are acting as political analysts and judges will stop and let them get on with their vision of a better America.
Julia Yohn Pickett
I would like to invite your attention to the editorial, "India and the Yugoslav Example," which appeared in your esteemed daily on Feb. 10.
The editorial refers to India as ". . . more like a patchwork quilt, composed of two racially distinct ethnic groups, which speak over a dozen different languages, and adherents of every major religion in the world."
I would like to point out that India is not composed of two racially distinct ethnic groups. The Muslims of India are of the same stock as the Hindus.
Your readers may be interested to know that in India, Muslims are spread all over the country. There are Muslim Bengalis, Kerala Muslims, Muslims from Uttar Pradesh and Muslims from Andhra -- each of them speaking the local language and ethnically the same as Hindus from the areas concerned.
The writer is press counselor at the Embassy of India.
When Maryland's Senate and House of Delegates recently heard testimony on the keno bills, I made these points in letters to the committees:
Smart economic policy levies taxes on consumption and use, not on savings and investment. Yet Maryland's governor and his legislative leadership turn this on its head. They tax state residents on savings and investment.
Of course, they don't call it taxes. They call it gambling. Yet in effect, every dollar that's gambled is a 100 percent tax on savings and investment. Every dollar gambled is discretionary income that could be saved and invested in Maryland's future.
Of course, not every dollar gambled will otherwise be saved. But the key point is this: Why do Maryland's governor and legislators actively promote gambling and discourage savings and investment? Isn't that the wrong message to be sending Maryland's people?
Maryland deserves better.