Pubdate: Fri, 08 Oct 1999
Source: Houston Chronicle (TX)
Copyright: 1999 Houston Chronicle
Author: Jerry Epstein


The Chronicle's Aug. 31 report by David Ho, "Uninvolved fathers place teens
at greater risk of drug abuse," made some valuable points, but the
implications are ignored by our national drug policy. The drug war at
present has only two tactics: efforts to stop supply, which provoke market
reactions resulting only in more supply and the counterproductive use of

Neither of these tactics "correct" the problem of absent or uninvolved
parents. Unfortunately, the most serious parental problems will be untouched
by articles such as this or by the drug war.

A rational drug policy would focus on providing early identification of
high-risk children and the provision of preventive counseling and close
support programs, all of which now command less than than 10 percent of the
drug-war budget. We would be far more successful if these were our focus and
we didn't squander most of our funds on useless police tactics.

A thousand counselors will outperform a thousand border guards or prison
guards hands down when it comes to curbing drug abuse. All the police in the
world will make no difference except that incidents of abuse of power will

Responsible decisions by hopeful children -- rather than poor decisions by
children who feel abnormal stress and isolation -- provide a perfect defense
to drug abuse.

Jerry Epstein, Houston

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