TREATMENT, NOT STERILIZATION, IS THE WAY TO HELP ADDICTED MOMS

January 30, 2000

By: Lynn Paltrow and Robert Newman, Houston Chronicle (TX), January 30, 2000

JUST as government data give us welcome news that crack use is on the decline, C.R.A.C.K. -- Children Require a Caring Kommunity, a private program that offers addicts $200 to get their tubes tied -- is attracting national support, including a Houston businessman who recently contributed $50,000 to the program. True, the financial incentive is modest and the numbers accepting the offer are few ( under 100 ). But there is cause for grave concern about this initiative because it promotes prejudice and perpetuates myths.

* Myth No. 1: Drug problems are irreversible. Simply put, you must believe this to justify an irreversible solution -- surgical sterilization that prevents a woman from having kids, ever. The fact is, addiction is a treatable disease. A wide range of inpatient and outpatient therapies have been shown to reduce or eliminate illicit drug use.

Comprehensive programs that don't separate mothers from their children are highly successful in helping women and keeping their families together. They also are cost-effective, especially when one compares their price tag to the staggering financial and social costs of separating mother and child.

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