Combating teen drug abuse

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David Toma is back, and he's angry. The former Newark, N. J., detective whose experiences inspired the ``Toma'' and ``Baretta'' TV series reenacts his current real-life role in a startling drama that explores teen-age drug abuse: The Drug Knot (CBS, Wednesday, 8-9 p.m.). Toma's anger is directed at kids using drugs and alcohol as well as at parents who can't communicate with their children. He is a spellbinding orator, manipulating his audience with revival-meeting techniques. The program is basically an illustrated version of the lectures and counseling Toma offers at high schools around the US. It is sometimes harsh and shocking.

The lecture is interspersed with melodramatic scenes of one boy's experience. The tragic ending adds an exclamation point to an already italicized drama. Toma's lecture will likely scare the daylights out of many youngsters. Because of the unnerving aspects, the program would best be viewed by parent and child together.

But whether ``The Drug Knot'' is constructive is open to question. Might it not be counterproductive to frighten youngsters with tales of overdosing and death in the hope of leading them toward asking for help? And isn't Toma's main solution -- more love and better communication with friends and relatives -- just a bit too simplistic? Certainly in many cases there are underlying problems that need to be addressed by qualified counselors instead of subjecting youngsters to ``shock'' therapy.

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