Pubdate: Sun, 02 Jun 2002
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2002 Los Angeles Times
Author: Grant Saltarelli, Dan Ancona
Bookmark: (Ecstasy)


Re "Tustin Teen in Coma After Overdose on Prom Night," May

By setting a zero-tolerance policy on substance abuse, the Tustin
Unified School District needs to understand something: Demonizing the
use of alcohol, putting it in the same category as drug abuse, makes
illicit drugs all that more attractive to students. No amount of
breath-sniffing, purse-checking and pat-downs can reveal a concealed
dose of a drug like Ecstasy, unless, of course, they propose doing
strip searches and blood tests before school dances.

It's easier for a kid to get Ecstasy than it is to find an adult to
buy a bottle of rum. With zero tolerance, more kids are choosing to
use illicit drugs rather than drink because it is easier to get away
with it. Rather than simply preaching substance-abuse abstinence,
school boards need to promote drug education that is based on the
reality that illegal drug use exists. Students need to learn they can
never be sure about what is in the drug they are buying, and about how
abusing drugs, or using them in combinations, can cause irreparable
brain damage or death.

Grant Saltarelli, Los Angeles


Re "Teen's One-Night Mistake Carried a High Price," Dana Parsons, May

Dana Parsons asks if there's "anything new to say about what can
happen" when people use drugs. Apparently there is: In both his column
and in two articles written about the incident, important facts about
how this tragedy could have been prevented were omitted.

Had Cathy Isford not mixed two dehydrating drugs, not taken such large
doses of both of the two drugs, had she tested the MDMA pills she
took, or even drank enough water, it's probable that she would still
be alive.

MDMA use is less risky than other activities that no one would even
think of questioning. Statistics compiled in the United Kingdom show
that the risk of dying as a result of taking MDMA is about 1 in 5
million. To put this in context, the risk of dying as a result of a
horseback-riding accident is about 1 in 3 million.

It's not surprising that The Times' objectivity has been compromised
by the distortion resulting from the war on some drugs, this horribly
misguided declaration of war by our country's government on her own
people. But it is disappointing.

Use of or abstinence from a drug is a complicated and personal
decision. Both The Times and the government should share the
responsibility to deliver information to enable people to make this
decision rationally and as safely as possible. Balance is badly
needed. The Times should be able to avoid encouraging drug use while
still providing information that could save lives.

Dan Ancona, Santa Barbara
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