THE REAL MESSAGES NEEDED IN ANTIDRUG ADS I appreciated your article on the federal antidrug campaign ("In-your-face ads turn some kids off drugs," Aug. 5). I am currently working on a project on women, girls, and tobacco. I was previously the clinical coordinator of the American Cancer Society's Massachusetts Smoker's Quitline. Prior to that I worked in substance abuse treatment, and in a women's correctional facility in Massachusetts. Few of the people I encountered would have been touched by any ad campaign. They were using drugs for a variety of reasons: to oversimplify; to get away from their feelings and experiences; to affiliate with a group or image that felt like an improvement over what was available to them; to feel in control.
Most of the women I worked with were survivors of sexual and other abuse, and the kinds of dysfunctional family systems that most of us have only heard about; many had experienced the worst of the foster care system and neglect, which had them "on the street" before they were teens. Many were also intelligent, creative, and capable - and almost would have turned out a lot differently if they had been reached at an earlier point in their lives.
Prisons and drug treatment facilities are full of people with histories like this. Media messages might reach young people like them, if instead of attempting to frighten them about drugs (their lives are more frightening than that), they addressed the underlying issues: "No matter what's going on at home, there are places you can get help"; "Your worth is greater"; "You can become an adult with more choices"; etc. And then we need to back that up with resources.
These "high-risk" young people should not be an afterthought. Sure we want to protect our less troubled kids from making bad choices, from experimentation that leads to worse, or from drinking and driving. But the rampant drug problems are clustered in our society, not only in socioeconomic terms, but also within the workings of families - dysfunction crosses class lines.
Caryn Kauffman Cambridge, Mass.
Women, Girls & Tobacco Project
Institute for Health & Recovery
I saw Pat Holt's opinion article on drug prohibition and I applaud him for taking the right stand on this issue ("Antidrug contradictions," Aug. 5). Drugs are a social and medical problem, not a criminal problem. Drug prohibition creates the criminal aspects of the problems we are seeing associated with drugs. Prohibition didn't work in the 1930s, and it's not working now. Legalization and regulation will not fix all our drug problems, but it will be better than what we have now.
Thank you for your courageous coverage of this important issue.
Robert Holder Lakewood, Colorado
New perspective on paper
I was always reluctant to read your paper before, because it has 'Christian' in the title and I am Jewish, but today I decided to give it a try.
You cannot imagine my surprise and delight to find out that your paper is so thoughtful and reasonable - not at all the screaming right-wing screed I had always imagined. I am highly impressed with the moderate, intelligent tone of the editorials, and will certainly be back regularly. Thank you for showing me that not all Christians are like the extremists; in this day and age it is hard to remember that sometimes, but with you to remind me, I will never forget again.
Kimberly Levinson Tallahassee, Fla.
Correction: An Aug. 3 editorial on the environment incorrectly stated the results of a study on global warming. The study found a 25 percent reduction in the rate of growth in greenhouse gases since 1980.
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