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Drug-Study Findings Dismay Parents

The San Diego Union-Tribune
August 10, 1988

White House officials and parents' groups are questioning the findings of a massive study on drugs that concluded that infrequent users suffer few long-term harmful effects, it was reported today.

The criticisms were triggered by a University of California at Los Angeles study published in July in which researchers reported there was a "linear relationship" between the amount of drug use and the amount of damage to a person both emotionally and physically, according to today's Los Angeles Times.

Heavy drug use altered almost every aspect of personal and social development, according to the two psychologists who performed the study. Drugs caused the users to have disrupted relationships, jobs and education, and impaired physical and mental health, the study concluded.

However, the study also said, "The typical youngster who has a beer or some marijuana at a party is not the one who is going to develop long-term damage as a result of their drug use.

"It is those teen-agers who develop a lifestyle of drug use to relieve emotional distress and other life stressors ... that will suffer long-term, negative consequences of their use," the study said.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse, the federal agency that paid for the research, received dozens of inquiries after the study was released.

Meanwhile, White House officials and parents' groups said they are worried about how the study will be interpreted.

"Parents are furious about it," said Sue Rusche, executive director of the National Drug Information Center of Families in Action and a member of the advisory board of the federal agency that oversees the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

One question regarding the validity of the findings centers on the fact that the researchers lost contact with more than half of the original 1,600 participants who enrolled in the study in 1976, Rusche said.

 


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