`Just Say No' Falls Short of Curbing Drug Use

The article ``After Years of Decline, Drug Use by Youth Again on the Rise,'' Feb. 3, underscores the failure of drug education.

In a laudable effort to stop kids from taking drugs, drug-education programs are not being forthright about what drugs actually do. There is much emphasis on ``just saying no,'' and while peer pressure is certainly a factor in why young people might turn to drugs, drug-education programs do not fully address the substantive appeal of drugs.

Drug-education programs need to inform kids that drugs mask and seem to take away emotional pain, and that is what makes drugs so appealing to users, rather than increased status among peers. To a kid who perceives such benefits, the message that drugs are harmful will not ring true. The fundamental lack of honesty about the stress-relieving, pleasure-inducing effects of drugs is the main reason that drug education is not accomplishing its goals. I'd like the message to say: Yes, drugs feel good and take away pain ... for a while. But you don't need to be dependent on an external, harmful substance to relieve stress. There are other ways to bring joy back into your lives. Nicky Hardenbergh, Manchester, Mass.

Should Congress play TV cop?

In the opinion-page article ``Will `Indecency' Cops Retire?'' Jan. 20, the author - who deplores Congress's attempt to purge indecency from radio and television - seems unable to grasp the need for high standards and principles by which to pattern our lives and set goals for ourselves.

She writes: ``In a free society, the people, not the government, make choices and set standards.'' But members of Congress are responding favorably to the people, polls, hearings, and to their constituents - this is the American government in action. I fail to see how the American Civil Liberties Union's stand is helpful to our country and our citizens. Surely it doesn't further a ``more perfect union,'' or the general welfare of the American people. Shirley R. Hanning, Norfolk, Va.

Clinton's environmental legacy

The author of the opinion-page article ``Clinton and the Environment,'' Jan. 19, states that President Clinton's most far-reaching environmental legacy will be the change in the management of the public lands of the American West. Not so.

Mr. Clinton's greatest environmental legacy will be his reversal of the Reagan-Bush administrations' destructive policy of opposing responsible funding of family-planning services in America and throughout the world. In addition, Clinton is encouraging establishing population policies and programs worldwide. By such actions, Clinton will hasten the day when the world's population will be stabilized and then reduced to a size compatible with the carrying capacity of the world's natural resources. Such actions will be Clinton's ``most far-reaching environmental legacy.''

I am surprised that the author never refers to Clinton's family planning programs in discussing the president's environmental protection efforts. The rapid increase in population is at the root of environmental deterioration. G. B. Lloyd, Southwest Harbor, Maine

Valuing low-skill occupations

Regarding the article: ``Up for Reinvention: Job Retraining,'' Feb 18: The article states: ``Services will provide the bulk of the economy's new jobs, and this sector includes many relatively low-skill occupations such as retail sales clerks, child-care workers, and waiters. But the sector also includes fast-growing professional fields such as computer programming and paralegal work.''

I despair over our social and educational progress in a society where those who interact with computers are valued over those who interact with our children. Jeanne Davis, Augusta, Maine

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