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`Just Say No' Falls Short of Curbing Drug Use

The article ``After Years of Decline, Drug Use by Youth Again on the Rise,'' Feb. 3, underscores the failure of drug education.

In a laudable effort to stop kids from taking drugs, drug-education programs are not being forthright about what drugs actually do. There is much emphasis on ``just saying no,'' and while peer pressure is certainly a factor in why young people might turn to drugs, drug-education programs do not fully address the substantive appeal of drugs.

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Drug-education programs need to inform kids that drugs mask and seem to take away emotional pain, and that is what makes drugs so appealing to users, rather than increased status among peers. To a kid who perceives such benefits, the message that drugs are harmful will not ring true. The fundamental lack of honesty about the stress-relieving, pleasure-inducing effects of drugs is the main reason that drug education is not accomplishing its goals. I'd like the message to say: Yes, drugs feel good and take away pain ... for a while. But you don't need to be dependent on an external, harmful substance to relieve stress. There are other ways to bring joy back into your lives. Nicky Hardenbergh, Manchester, Mass.

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