Pubdate: Thu, 18 Sep 2003
Source: Georgia Straight, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2003 The Georgia Straight
Author: George Kosinski


In the September 4-11 letters section, Art Steinmann, executive
director of Alcohol-Drug Education Service, referred to a long list of
dead musicians who used drugs. The list he refers to is actually
impressively short, considering the touring lifestyle that seems to
encourage excessive drug use among musicians, but, more to the point,
I challenge Steinmann to name one musician who died from taking
ecstasy, LSD, or magic mushrooms.

Steinmann rightly points out that these substances can create problems
when used by teenagers in the absence of proper context, ritual, and
adult role models. Yet he offers no solutions to address this
deficiency, a surprising omission for someone purporting to be an
educator, at least until one discovers the paucity of educational
resources and links on his organization's Web site. During the 50
years his organization has been in existence, one would think it would
have, at the very least, stumbled upon Robert Julien's A Primer of
Drug Action, an essential guide for laypersons interested in educating
themselves and their children about the effects of drugs. On the other
hand, perhaps that is expecting too much from an organization whose
board of directors includes Kathy Tait, the infamous Province
journalist of a few years ago who specialized in hysterical,
ill-informed diatribes against marijuana.

The overall negative tone of Steinmann's letter suggests that he is
unaware of the clinical data indicating, among other things, that
ecstasy can be useful in relationships therapy and that LSD has shown
promise in curing alcoholism, reducing recidivism among ex-convicts,
and helping those in existential purgatory to find meaning in life,
while the famous Harvard Good Friday experiment proved conclusively
that psilocybin can trigger religious experiences indistinguishable
from those described by well-known saints.

In fact, William G. Wilson, the cofounder of Alcoholics Anonymous, was
convinced of the value of LSD in treating alcoholism and said as much
in a letter to Timothy Leary at Harvard dated July 11, 1961. That was,
of course, before it became dangerous to one's career to make any
positive statements about psychoactive substances, and further
(authorized) research was curtailed by political requirements.

Steinmann says "We owe it to kids to be honest, and that means neither
exaggerating the potential harms nor pretending that drug use is
safe," but are we really being honest when we remain silent about the
dramatic therapeutic potential displayed by these powerful medicines
and when we pretend that there are no conditions under which they may
be used safely?

George Kosinski

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