Pubdate: Tue, 29 June 1999
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 1999 San Francisco Chronicle
Author: Susan L. Adams


Editor -- The June 17 article ``Merger Off Course'' was well received
by my acquaintances. However, those who know the work I do with
pregnant women who struggle with addiction and recovery asked, ``Why
did the reporter focus on cocaine addiction?'' My response is that,
unfortunately, there is still a pervasive mythology in politics and
the media that illicit substances, which include cocaine, are our
biggest drug threats.

In reality, alcohol and tobacco are the most abused addictive agents
in this country and these are legally acquired and socially
acceptable. According to the annual reports from the National
Household Survey on Drug Abuse, more than 80 percent of all U.S.
residents over the age of 12 have tried alcohol and 71 percent have
tried tobacco. Alcohol is a documented teratogen, meaning it causes
birth defects.

Alcohol abuse in pregnancy causes the most preventable form of mental
retardation (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome) in this country, affecting about
three in 1,000 children, yet the media continues to air commercials
which not so subliminally link youth, sex and fun with drinking.

Finally, poor women, especially women of color, are penalized the most
for their addictions. Doctors and nurses, lawyers and business
executives are also at risk, the only difference being the type and
quality of the addictive agents they choose.

Child abuse, sexual abuse and domestic violence know no race or class
boundaries, yet the risk of these occurring where there are addictive
agents involved are increased. It is time the media and the
politicians stop perpetuating myths around addiction.

San Rafael
- ---
MAP posted-by: Derek Rea