Patricia Deavers Adkinson of Fairfax writes: "I feel that the hardworking individuals; helpful, effective organizations; and significant events I am going to discuss in this rambling letter have been denied well-deserved media recognition and support.
"We see drug culture violence on the front page of newspapers and on televison broadcasts almost daily; however, the forces working to combat drug abuse among our adolescents (and even younger children), the individuals and organizations devoted to eliminating such sensational news material, are rarely mentioned.
"If programs dedicated to drug abuse prevention and the rehabilitation of drug users are to be effective, those in a position to support them and those who need them must be aware of their existence.
"On May 8, the National Federation of Parents for Drug Free Youth received official government recognition and support. Although press representatives attended, no mention has been made of this important kick-off meeting.
"The federation unites a number of existing community parents' groups and aids communities in organizing similar ones. Groups of active parents prove that parent power can replace negative adolescent activities with positive alternatives and help restore community pride and self-esteem in formerly hostile, withdrawn teenagers.
"One community group developed a book, 'Parents, Peers and Pot' (available from the National Institute of Drug Abuse), describing the current situation and successful efforts to combat the problem.
"Parents and concerned citizens are organizing in response to current scientific evidence that reveals the extent of physical and mental damage from even minimal marijuana and alcohol abuse by adolescents. Although we now have research to support our stand, those of us who have seen loved ones deteriorate from bright, active children to sullen, unpredictable, often violent, drug dependent monsters appreciate the need for parent education, unification, and action to counter the attractions of the drug culture.
"Unfortunately, many parents still face drug problems uninformed and uninvolved. The National Drug Abuse Foundation, 6500 Randall Drive, Falls Church, (534-2206) provides current, accurate drug abuse and prevention information. Those interested in attending parent awareness meetings, or in supporting foundation programs, are encouraged to call or write.
"The ultimate depredation of life in the drug culture is epitomized by the recent prison break-in and murder at Lorton. This is sensational, exciting front page action. Profiles of addicts and teen-aged alcoholics . . . make depressing feature stories. However, happy, hopeful stories of family and individual rehabilitation are rarely told.
"The people fighting and winning the long, hard battle against substance abuse are denied media support. If mentioned, they are often misrepresented and their programs and goals blatantly distorted.
"Dedicated, effective professionals such as Iola Scrafford, director of the Crossroads Program in Fairfax (691-2468), and her staff, or the staff of Second Genesis Facilities (683-4610) throughout the area (some of whom earn as little as $8,000-a year) spend their lives -- not just eight hours a day -- combating the influences that lead our children to such dramatic, front page demises as the Lorton murder.
"Where are the stories of their struggle?"
"Where are the profiles of rehabilitated drug users and their families who feel good about themselves and positive about their futures?
"Without media interest, many families who could benefit from awareness of these programs live in a hell on earth. Without public awareness and support, state legislatures and assorted federal officials continue to reduce funds to programs already dependent on private contributions, yard sales and raffles. Whatever the reason for the media's uninterst, I hope you will lend your column to informing District Liners that information, support and treatment are available."
Basically, news can be defined as "departure from the usual." Misconduct by drug abusers makes news. But so does rehabilitation. Print and broadcast media have reported on programs aimed at reducing drug abuse, but if we deserve a scolding for not doing more on this subject, so be it. Most newsmen want to act responsibly; perhaps we need an occasional reminder.
"P.S.: I did not find "Crossroads Program" in the Virginia phone book. The number 691-2468 is listed to "Fairfax County Drug Abuse Program." The number 683-4610 is listed to a Second Genesis office in Alexandria. Two other Second Genesis offices may be more convenient for Maryland residents. The Bethesda number is 656-1545 and an office in Upper Marlboro can be reached by dialing 249-9350.