Pubdate: Wed, 04 Sep 2002
Source: Pensacola News Journal (FL)
Copyright: 2002 The Pensacola News Journal
Authors: Robert Sharpe, Anthony Lorenzo


The News Journal's Aug. 13 editorial offered excellent advice on preventing 
adolescent drug use. The importance of parental involvement in reducing 
drug use cannot be overstated. School-based extracurricular activities have 
also been shown to prevent drug use. They keep kids busy during the hours 
they're most prone togetting into trouble.

In order for drug education to be effective it has to be credible. The most 
popular recreational drug and the one most closely associated with violent 
behavior is often overlooked by parents. That drug is alcohol, and ittakes 
far more lives every year than all illegal drugs combined. Alcohol may 
belegal, but it's still the number one drug problem.

For decades drug education has been dominated by sensationalist programs 
like Drug Abuse Resistance Education. Good intentions are no substitute for 
effective drug education. DARE's scare tactics do more harm than good.

Students who realize they've been lied to about marijuana often make the 
mistake of assuming that harder drugs like heroin are relatively harmless 
as well. This is a recipe for disaster.

Drug education programs must be reality-based or they may backfire when 
kids are inevitably exposed to drug use among their peers.

Robert Sharpe, Program Officer, Drug Policy Alliance, Arlington, Va.


Regarding, "Drugs will come and go, but parents can be there" (Opinion, 
Aug. 13), I have a comment.

The article tells parents to deliver an honest anti-drug message. The 
problem is: Parents were exposed to the dishonest scare tactics which don't 
work on our children. Parents were taught by parents who grew up in the 
"Reefer Madness" days. Parents can't be expected to keep up with the latest 
research and the newest chemicals on the market. These are the jobs of the 
government: to educate the public and reduce the harm of drugs.

Instead, we get Super Bowl ads that tell us our kids are terrorist 
supporters if they smoke a joint. At some point we have to discuss the 
government's failings to do its job. We have to tell kids what is in the 
pills they take. That requires testing and education.

With all the money we spend on prisons and law enforcement, the government 
will fail to let parents know that the only harm in ecstacy use is 
dehydration and overheating. They will fail to educate the public that 
there would be no poisoned pills out there if it were a legal, regulated 

The government will fail to explore statistics of countries that have ended 
prohibition and that teen drug use actually drops when we stop fueling 
their rebelliousness. When will the government do its job and stop pointing 
the finger at parents?

Anthony Lorenzo, Tampa
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