Letters

Antidrug efforts overlook the abuse of legal drugs Regarding "Antidrug ad blitz criticized for omitting 'drug of choice' " (June 11): The Office of National Drug Control Policy's (ONDCP) response as to why its national antidrug advertisement campaign does not target alcohol abuse appears accurate. But although the abuse of illicit drugs is a tremendous national problem, the abuse of legal drugs (via prescription) is an equally serious problem, if not greater. As a former Drug Enforcement Administration special agent, I do not understand the failure to address this issue.

Consistently, over the last 10 years, prescription drugs such as Valium have been among the top five drugs abused in America. Valium abuse, for several years, has exceeded that of marijuana, previously thought to be the most prevalent drug. This has been acknowledged by the National Institute of Drug Abuse as well as senior officials of the Department of Justice.

Last August Mary Lee Warren, deputy assistant attorney general in the criminal division, testified before the Subcommittee on the Judiciary. She said legally manufactured drugs accounted for one-quarter of drug deaths reported by medical examiners and one-quarter of emergency room admissions. She also testified that in 1995, more than 6 million Americans abused at least one prescription drug (this is more than the figures for heroin or cocaine abusers for the same year). Obviously, this constitutes a serious national crisis. Why aren't government resources being deployed to address this problem?

Although the ONDCP national antidrug control strategy is gradually making progress in reducing drug abuse, it will never be completely effective because it does not address the entire spectrum of drug abuse in America. ONDCP's mandate should be revisited and perhaps revised to address the totality of the drug-abuse problem.

Joseph I. Molyneux, Metairie, La.

The end of quality journalism? In his June 11 opinion article "The end of journalism," Daniel Schorr fell into a trap that imprisons most of us from time to time: the myth of despair and victimization.

Bemoaning the effect of the Information Age on the quality of journalism, he writes, "With a deadline a minute, who has time for fact-checking?" Therein lies the problem. Do we surrender to the unreasonable demands of whomever we perceive has power over us? Or do we exert courage and insist on doing what's right?

Some will say change is hopeless. Americans want their news instantaneously. Why not address the problem head-on in an aggressive advertising campaign, using creative sound bytes such as "How do you want your news served - fast and sloppy or accurately?"

Terry Jennings, New York

Valuable opinions The Monitor never ceases to please and surprise me after 25 years of subscribing. The opinion page of June 11 is a prime example.

Daniel Schorr decries the end of journalism. As a reader of three newspapers, I cry with him. Remember the old truism that when a dictator takes over a country, the first thing to go is a free press?

Below Schorr's article, Jeffrey Shaffer bemoans the end of shopping - in a store, that is ("Go ahead, shop online -leave me the mall parking spots"). "Marketplaces are cultural cornerstones ...," he writes. and where people have jobs. And where one carries home groceries without a delivery fee.

Finally the Moral Dilemma column. Although the infidelity saga is all too familiar today, I've not heard it presented as it was by the writer - a problem for many of us who have been longsuffering listeners.

Mary Meyer, Pasadena, Calif.

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. We can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number.

Mail letters to 'Readers Write,' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to oped@csps.com

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