Listen To Your Mother 

Listen To Your Mother 
Posted by FoM on February 22, 2000 at 10:07:21 PT
Source: MoJo Wire
Laurie:I'm Al Levesque's mother and yes, he was in drug treatment centers from the age of 14 up for awhile. Was he an out of control teen using drugs? Yes. I feel that what I did at the time was the absolute best thing I could do for him. I was able to get him away from the group of people that he was getting into trouble with and force him to take responsibility for his actions. 
It's quite obvious that Al feels he never had a drug problem. Well, I know that at the age of 14, my son was abusing drugs, his grades in school were falling, and his behavior was erratic. I am not at all sorry for putting him into rehab and I feel that if I had not done so, his drug abuse would most definitely have increased. In Defense of Zero-Tolerance: RE: "Unfair Treatment" 02/21/00 As a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent psychology, I find it troubling that Jake Ginsky uses the opinions of kids in drug rehab programs as evidence for the mis-diagnosing of their individual cases. Addiction, whether it be to alcohol or illicit drugs, begins with a very straightforward denial by the addict. Second, I take issue with Ginsky's cavalier use of statistical evidence regarding the prevalence of drug use by American teenagers. While it is true that general drug use has gone down since the 1980s, it is also true that drug use is higher now than it was during the 1970s. I find it highly disturbing that Ginsky would refer to the increase in use of such drugs as cocaine, and heroin as "only a few percentage points." Can someone be so wedded to their own agenda that they are willing to dismiss the suffering of thousands of kids, as represented by those "few percentage points?" Finally, while not all adolescents who use marijuana end up psychologically dependent on the drug, some do. Moreover, some of the best research conducted in this area seems to indicate that marijuana use significantly increases the likelihood that the adolescent will attempt to use other, more dangerous drugs (e.g., heroin). Thus, the best and most sensible policy is to treat even minimal marijuana use seriously and remand adolescents using marijuana to treatment. Let me state that I am fully in support of national drug policy (including "zero-tolerance"). I think if individuals who advocate drug legalization or who criticize our zero-tolerance approach would come out of their comfortable middle-class mind-set and talk with inner-city parents and teachers, they would realize that people in these areas are very much set against drugs and very much in favor of tougher drug policies. Oscar A. Cabrera Dept. of Psychology, University of HoustonJake Ginsky Responds: Mr. Cabrera, Your criticisms ignore some fundamental points that I make in my story. First, to get our facts straight, your assertion that teen drug use "is higher now than it was during the 1970s" is simply false. Evidence from both the National Household Survey and the Monitoring the Future Study show that drug use among teens -- even at its most recent peak in 1996-97 -- is substantially lower than it was in the 1970s. For example, in 1978, about 11 percent of 12th graders reported daily marijuana use, compared to 6 percent in 1999. You are right to point out that even an increase of "only a few percentage points" in the use of hard drugs (heroin, cocaine, etc.) can mean that thousands of kids are developing problems with these drugs. But it's hardly fair to say that I "dismiss the suffering" of these hard-core abusers. On the contrary, I make the point that the kids who are the most in need of treatment are often the ones who have the least access to it. It is generally estimated that only about a quarter of the 800,000 heroin users in the US get the treatment they need. At the same time, many researchers argue, a disproportionate number of youths who do not have properly defined drug problems are being admitted for the slightest level of marijuana use. The latter trend only seems to exacerbate the problem for the hard-core addicts you refer to. You also contend that I belittle the problems facing disadvantaged youths in the inner city. But, in fact, I make the point that access to treatment often depends on being able to afford it. Typically, kids in the inner city lack the cash and health insurance to get access to treatment, other than the slots that are available through the criminal justice system. Your suggestion that we should treat "even minimal marijuana use seriously and remand adolescents using marijuana to treatment" is, frankly, a bit frightening. If that's your criterion for being "in need of treatment," I would estimate that about 60 percent of my friends in high school -- none of whom have ever developed drug problems -- would have required treatment. As many experts attest, adolescents are inevitably going to experiment with drugs. In the majority of cases, their use will not stretch beyond experimentation or, at most, occasional use. True, a great number of young marijuana users -- albeit only a small minority of the total -- do develop abuse problems and require treatment. But statistics show that these are, quite often, not the kids who are admitted to treatment facilities. As to your contention that that "marijuana use significantly increases the likelihood that the adolescent will attempt to use other, more dangerous drugs": many of the researchers and treatment professionals I spoke to strongly disagree with this so-called gateway theory. Published: February 21, 2000MoJo Wire Mistreatment - MoJo Wire Article:
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