The readers’ forum

Help create therapeutic community to help addicts


As recently reported, the number of first-time heroin users in the United States is on the rise.

That’s no surprise to Dan Duncan, associate executive director of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse. Duncan says that’s because the drug is cheaper now and much more available from heroin producers in Mexico. He says that they make what is called a “button,” which is a capsule of heroin that sells for about $10. That’s compared to up to $75 for a prescription pain pill. And pain pills are far less available since the government crackdown on pill mills.

For Miami, the crisis is compounded because, while we have some good detox programs to help addicts in the short term, many such people remain addicts, and it is only a matter of time before they relapse because the drug hunger remains imbedded in their systems.

To stop being addicts, people generally need to enter specialized residential facilities called Therapeutic Communities where they may stay for several years while ex-addicts help them through the agonizing process of stripping themselves down to their bare essentials and rebuilding themselves as functioning human beings.

Such facilities accept no public operating funds, and while there, addicts earn money in a variety of legitimate entrepreneurial ways, which they pool to support the facility.

Unfortunately, there are no such programs in or near Miami. The few addicts who are willing to seek recovery must go far out of state to North Carolina or elsewhere, far from their families and at great cost.

But there is a solution. All that is required is for some entity, most likely Miami-Dade County or some other local government, or even a private property owner, to donate a building and property suitable to be converted into a therapeutic community to meet the growing local need. The building needn’t be in good shape or up to code. The addicts themselves — working under the supervision of Marvin’s Corner — will do the manual labor under the supervision of supportive volunteer professionals such as architects, engineers and contractors.

What is needed is the support of the community to secure the facility.

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez understands the situation and wants to help. He now needs the support of others such as the Miami-Dade County Commission, the Miami-Dade League of Cities, anti-drug programs such as Informed Families and the Miami Coalition for Safe and Drug-Free Communities, the news media and members of the community.

Seth Gordon,

Marvin’s Corner, Miami

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