Beyond the Yellow Brick Road; Stress and the Healthy Family; Beyond the Yellow Brick Road: Our Children and Drugs By Bob Meehan. Farnsworth Publishing Co. $14.95.
Bob Meehan's book is a fast-moving, no-nonsense primer for parents faced with drug abuse or addiction under their own roofs.
Meehan speaks with a credibility not often found in loftier professional or medical treatises on this topic -- largely because he's been there.
By his own admission, Meehan has ingested, snorted, drunk, smoked, popped and injected almost every substance known on the streets. He spent three years in federal and local prisons and firmly believes drug rehabilitation programs cannot work unless their leaders have had personal experience with drug dependency.
It was after one of those prison stints that Meehan started a counseling and drug center for strung-out youths in Houston. The impetus for the program came after an Episcopal priest offered him a janitor's job, a church room and the unconditional acceptance he needed to restore his badly battered self-esteem.
Ever since its founding in 1971, the Palmer Drug Abuse Program (PDAP) has been helping kids -- Meehan estimates some 20,000 -- get sober and stay straight. In 1979, the program gained national prominence when comedian Carol Burnett acknowledged her daughter had been successfully rehabilitated there.
"Beyond the Yellow Brick Road" admonishes parents to take a tough stand on drug use. Parents are urged to forbid dabbling in drugs and alcohol outright rather than waffling on the issue in the belief that a little experimentation never hurt anyone.
"Love means not accepting wrong behavior" and letting kids experience the logical consequences of their behavior rather than always bailing them out if they get in trouble. Meehan also says parents must erect "walls" -- specific, firm prohibitions to counteract the seductive pull of the drug culture.
Meehan now runs the residential Sober Live-In Center near San Diego, Calif., as well as a teen-age drug rehabilitation program called Freeway. Both programs rely heavily on the "12 steps" method used by Alcoholic Anonymous and on building a new peer group of supportive, non-drug users.
The book tries especially hard to break the stereotype of marijuana as an innocent, harmless drug. And it indicts the film industry, television and comedy team Cheech and Chong in particular for perpetuating this image.
"Marijuana is a cagey drug. It does not violently attack the system, it does not radically distort reality. It executes the perfect crime on its victims, blowing their minds without disturbing the furniture," Meehan writes.
Meehan devotes several final chapters to discussing the steps needed to build local rehabilitation clinics and is a valuable guide for community organizers.
It may be a bit troubling to some readers that the children's classic "The Wizard of Oz" has become a symbol for the drug culture. In Frank Baum's book, the yellow brick road was a somewhat circuitous road to maturity that demanded a certain courage and perseverence of those traveling it. Now, apparently, it is a road paved with tempting hallucinogens and a deceptive wizard luring kids to a fantasy ending.
Bob Meehan's book is an eye opener for parents and a good read all around.-- Joan McQueeney Mitric Stress and the Healthy Family. By Delores Curran. Winston Press. $13.95.
Stress is healthy, if controlled, but quickly turns to distress when family life gets out of control. We must cope with it, or watch it destroy marriages, parent-child relationships and jobs.
Delores Curran has not provided a "how-to" book, but rather a "how-they-did-it" book. The author observed and interviewed more than 600 families who successfully coped with stress. She also gathered data from surveys with therapists, counselors and corporations. Her research uncovered the 10 most common stresses affecting family life today, as well as how the families cope with, and survive, abnormal stress to make their life together successful.
According to the author, the 10 most common stresses that families fall victim to are money, children's behavior, insufficient "couple time," lack of shared responsibility, communicating with children, insufficient "me time," guilt for not accomplishing more, spousal relationships, insufficient family time and overscheduled family calendars.
Because family stress is spilling over into society, it is beginning to receive some attention. Time pressures on families in which both parents work are affecting the job performance of these men and women. At least 75 percent of the Fortune 500 companies now have marriage and family professionals on staff because employes are bringing problems to work, and these problems are family-oriented. Business is now recognizing that family stress is as valid as executive stress and professional burnout.
More marriages suffer from loss of communication, Curran writes, than from loss of health, from disagreement on how to spend money than from insufficient money, and from over-scheduled calendars than from extra-marital affairs.
The author believes the society's changing value system is the major cause of stress. Under the traditional value system, men could be locked into unsatisfactory work for the rest of their lives, no matter how unhappy, and women could be locked into a life of drudgery with no challenge.
Families that deal effectively with stress operate by a new value system, one in which money and promotion are not as important.
This book is an extremely valuable "family resource" because it offers numerous solutions to combat everyday family stress.
For example, couples can share feelings as well as words, and learn how to develop a positive attitude toward each other. Stress-effective parents focus on the rewards of having children, learn to communicate well with them, and spend quality time with them.
While it is true that all people must live with stress, those who learn how to control it will enjoy a happy and healthy family life. -- John Riddle