Drugs: Equal Opportunity Destroyer
Re Ishmael Reed’s “The Suburban Curtain” [June 23/30]: I am a 78-year-old white male drug addict and alcoholic. I have a PhD, have taught at some of the most prestigious universities in the world and have been in Who’s Who in America since 1998. I have lived my whole life in the middle class. I entered recovery in 1987, thoroughly addicted to opiates. I relapsed several times, the most recent involving an overdose in September 2013. I began going to meetings of Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous in 1987 and have never stopped attending at least five times a week.
This is my experience: all drugs (including alcohol) are the same—potentially addictive, potentially lethal; nearly all alcoholics also abuse narcotics; people use substances to alter how they feel; and the basic causes of alcohol and drug addiction are psychological. It’s not that white suburbanites also use and may become heroin addicts; it’s that the use and abuse of all drugs have no boundaries with respect to race, gender, age, politics or social/economic class. Failing to understand this is to misunderstand the nature of the disease of addiction and the medical and policy roads toward recovery.
St. Nick to the Rescue!
What Katha Pollitt tells us in “Sex Trafficking, Lies & Money” [June 23/30] could have been predicted by viewers of Half the Sky, the PBS series on the oppression of women globally. Two of the four programs focused on sex trafficking, with many sequences showing Nicholas Kristoff speeding to the rescue, dragging some movie star beside him.
Rape on Campus
OK, here goes. I was raped. I was 19 and terrified, blaming myself and believing I must have led them—yes, them—on. That the victim in Michelle Goldberg’s “Campus Rape Crisis” [June 23/30] was being questioned and doubted in 2014 just makes me realize that my not reporting what happened to me in the late 1980s was the correct, though unfortunate, choice for me. I just feel so sad and disappointed that justice for women really hasn’t come that far at all. Goldberg shows clearly how and why rape and sexual assault are underreported on college campuses.
Colleges are lousy at handling rape cases because, as Michelle Goldberg points out, that’s not what college disciplinary boards are meant to do. Asking an internal board to handle a rape case is like asking it to handle a murder case. It’s crazy. Victims should go to the criminal justice system. The time, energy and resources put into creating a parallel system for college women would be better spent insisting that police and prosecutors present a less daunting experience to a victim who steps forward.