To the editors:

I appreciate Patricia Callahan’s very informative and sensitive account in her article, “Matta’s Story” [October 30]. I am grateful to Matta Kelley Campbell for her openness in sharing the details of her ten years of “using” addictive drugs.

I recently heard, in a scientific meeting, that Icelandic women are raised so that they are unable to let go of emotion and to permit closeness. Matta seems to contradict this. For example, and I quote from the story, “She’ll hug you when you say good-bye,” etc, and “Kids [in the outreach center where she works] hop up on her lap and hug her.”

Matta tells vividly her step by step descent into the trap, the terrible risks and consequences of injecting street drugs–heroin and cocaine. She also highlights the awful frequency of AIDS among the “users” of injectable street drugs and her own sense of tragedy as she ministers to these afflicted people. Her own deadly struggle with endocarditis further contradicts the pleasure in drugs and emphasizes the urgent preoccupation with staving off painful withdrawal symptoms.

So many points are included–like her reporting the shortcomings of treatment and the ineffective counseling by students. She finally summoned her own resources to solve her drug problem and found how hard it was–and is–to maintain her “clean” state. She showed guts and strength and is certainly helping herself through helping others in her own dedicated way. Finally she laments her daily reminders of her previous addiction, especially when she remembers that her daughter, Michelle, lived through it with her.

We need better treatment and more resources for the problem. Sometimes it appears that there is so much emphasis on controlling drugs that the interest in the victim is neglected.

Richard S. Cook, M.D.

N. Lake Shore Drive