Addictions are no laughing matter

I am writing in response to the editorial, “My lifelong struggle with addictions,” by Barbara Olson (7/14/13). Her editorial comically depicts her lifelong experiences with “addictions.” She describes, in a blithe manner, her various addictions, including addictions to gluing materials in kindergarten, to cheerleading, and to shopping on the QVC channel. Even her addiction to smoking, which is indeed a significant addiction to a damaging substance, is depicted as a joke.

Addictions in the United States are a life-threatening, significant and challenging illness. To make light of addictions ignores the fact that addiction is a serious, chronic and progressive disease, not a choice or a moral failing. To understand this, consider the following facts:

Addiction is a major public health problem in the United States: A national epidemiological study found that over 10 percent of adults in the US meet criteria for an alcohol use disorder, a drug use disorder, or both. Ninety percent of those who become addicted begin using before the age of 18.

Addiction has a significant genetic component: Studies of twins indicate that genes account for approximately 50 percent of the risk for addiction. Studies of adopted children showed that those whose biological parents were addicts were twice as likely to become addicts as those whose biological parents weren’t addicts.

Addiction is a disease. Drugs (alcohol, marijuana, opiates) cause anatomical, functional and cognitive changes in the brain. The functional changes in the addict’s brain mean that he/she requires more and more of a given drug to get the same effect, and that the brain becomes dependent on the drug; physical withdrawal is a symptom of the disease.

Addiction is a progressive disease; progressive diseases get worse if they aren’t treated. Addiction is also a chronic disease; some of the brain changes are permanent, and the predisposition for addiction remains throughout a lifetime in most people.

The co-morbidity between drug/alcohol use and mental illness is high. Approximately six out of ten addicts have at least one other mental disorder. Recovery is much more likely if both the drug/alcohol use and the mental illness are treated.

Addiction kills people. Drug and alcohol-related deaths have doubled since the early 1980’s (Center for Disease Control and Prevention). Approximately 135,000 deaths a year in the US are directly attributed to drugs/alcohol.

Improvement in addiction treatment will come about only when addiction is recognized as a disease and as a major health problem which causes untold anguish to the addicts and to those who love them.

Eugenie W. Flaherty, Ph.D.

Clinical psychologist

Chestnut Hill


Grateful for the flouride article 

Fluoride Free Philadelphia is very grateful for your wonderful article by Pam Rogow, “Special interest money protects it; Mt. Airy biochemist: facts on fluoride hard to swallow” (June 27). The truth about fluoridation is not easy to come by. Fluoride is a poison, it has always been and always will be. Fluoride is more toxic than lead and less toxic than arsenic. One would not choose to drink either of those, no matter how diluted!

We have been desensitized since we have grown up brushing our teeth with fluoride very day. The usual response is, “Isn’t that good for teeth?” Edward L. Bernays, the nephew of Sigmund Freud, was hired at the dawn of fluoridation in the 1950s to introduce it to the public; his work as a propagandist is successful six decades later!

There are several ways to have healthy teeth, mainly nutritional and avoiding sugar, as well as hygiene. Weston A. Price, ADA researcher of the 1940s traveled the world studying cultures’ dental health. He discovered tribes with perfect teeth, no dentists in sight or fluoride, for that matter.

In his book, “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration,” Dr. Price describes that the adaptation of the modern western diet by many cultures showed a dramatic decrease in dental health. We do not need fluoride. But if one favors fluoride. one is able to purchase it for topical use. Fluoride should never be swallowed; just read your toothpaste label. The CDC, ADA, and others quietly agree the only benefit is topical.

Fluoride is a neurotoxin. With any common sense, why would one give this to a developing human being? We have skyrocketing cases of autism, ADD, ADHD, etc. Does fluoride contribute to neurologic disease? We are expecting a new study which will confirm this.

Please join with Fluoride Free Philadelphia to end fluoridation here. We are working at City Hall, where change can take place through legislation in City Council. Call, write, email Cindy Bass, Mayor Nutter and Health Commissioner Donald Schwarz, and tell them about your concerns. Visit Fluoride Free Philadelphia on Facebook. And do not drink fluoridated water.

Beverly DeCer, RN

Center City


Great treatment at therapy center

I wonder if the Northwest Community is aware of the excellent treatment available at the Chestnut Hill Physical Therapy Center. The staff is very professional, competent and respectful.

Special kudos are in order for my therapist Steve Azar who is very knowledgeable, compassionate and friendly with a great sense of humor. A few years ago he treated me for severe neck pain and after a few weeks of exercises with Steve I was able to back my car down the street without colliding with anyone.

More recently he treated me for sciatic pain in my back and leg, and again after a few weeks I experienced great improvement with much less pain.

He also helped my wife Joy with muscle strengthening after a severe illness. We consider him a good friend.

The PT facility is also conveniently located at the top of the hill in the “State Store Plaza” so you can treat yourself to a bottle of wine after your treatment.

Jim Wuenschel



Looking past Hill’s borders

I read in this week’s Local that one member of the Chestnut Hill Community Association board stated that grants from the Chestnut Hill Community Fund ought to go only to organizations in and serving Chestnut Hill.

Perhaps he needs to be less parochial in his vision. He may want to find out how many people living elsewhere than Chestnut Hill donate to the fund drive. And conversely, he may want to find out how many Chestnut Hillers benefit from the activities offered by groups not based in Chestnut Hill.

Maybe it is time for that member to remember that those living outside the boundaries of Chestnut Hill subscribe to and read the Local and that it is in everyone’s interest to be more neighborly.

Barbara A. Bloom

Chestnut Hill


Great care provided at Cat Clinic

I’m writing to rave about the wonderful care and service we have received at the Chestnut Hill Cat Clinic and the Chestnut Hill Pharmacy.

When we moved to the area two years ago, the reputation of the Chestnut Hill Cat Clinic led us to bring our beloved and ailing Squiggy there. The staff at the clinic provided personalized, superior care and taught us everything we needed to know about caring for a diabetic cat. We were also lucky to first encounter the wonderful service at the Chestnut Hill Pharmacy right when we needed it. They were helpful and friendly; they remembered us after the first visit and didn’t bat an eye at the lengths we were willing to go to care for our cat.

Squiggy passed away on June 30. His death reminded us that these two Chestnut Hill institutions made the last two years of our lives as his caregivers as pleasant as possible.

Hillary Mohaupt and Jennifer Moses, Chestnut Hill


Wissahickon Park: Really a paradise?

After reading “Pilgrims in the Park: in the Currents section of the Sunday, June 23 Inquirer, I was astounded by the content of the article by Beth Kephart. She described the Wissahickon Valley as a paradise with flocks of birds, bikers and the Wissahickon Creek.

Later she describes Friends of the Wissahickon as one of the most respected organizations in the park system. As an advocate for the white-tailed deer in Fairmount Park including the Wissahickon Valley, I see this article as an idyllic piece where there is no peace for the deer. FOW “manages” by initiating and supporting 17 years of an annual killing of the deer in the Wissahickon Valley and other sites in Fairmount Park.

A total of 2,571 deer have been killed since 1999. I founded PAD, Philadelphia Advocates for the Deer, in 2010 to ensure that deer and other indigenous animals in our midst are treated with respect in Fairmount Park. PAD has spread the word of ways to live peacefully with the deer and have offered neighbors help with gardens that are deer-resistant, ways to combat Lyme Disease and how to use the Streiter-lite system to reduce auto collisions.

It is important in journalism to be honest and factual when describing an environment. The Wissahickon Valley has become a killing field for deer and is therefore under siege by guns in neighborhoods where families live close by. Our quality of life is diminished by this siege.

Mary Ann Baron


Philadelphia Advocates for the Deer Chestnut Hill