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November 13, 1985 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1985-11-13

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Page 5 -The Michigan Daily- Wednesday, November 13, 1985



'U ' professor learns to live with MS

When Dr. D.L. Fisher, an anatomy
professor at the University's medical
school was officially diagnosed as
having multiple sclerosis (MS) his
first reaction was to give in to the
"I contemplated suicide, but my
religious convictions prevented me
from carrying out the intention," he
BUT FOURTEEN years later,
Fisher has learned to cope with the
progressive limitations of the disease
and is now confined to a wheelchair.
One of the hardest aspects of the
debilitating disease to combat, he
says, is "a gradual loss of energy and
coordination." This loss of physical
control that others often take for
granted forced him, like all MS vic-
tims, to make major changes in his
Making the necessary changes is no

longer a problem for Fisher. "You are
able to adapt to any situation as long
as you have your mental capacities,"
he says. "When you're faced with no
alternatives, the only choice you have
is to do the best you can with what
you've got."
WITH THE help of Washtenaw
County's Dial-A-Ride bus service,
Fisher has continued to teach his
anatomy classes at the University and
swims regularly to keep his muscles
in shape.
Fisher refuses to accept the idea
that he must be dependent on the
government because of his disability.
"I'd rather be a tax-paying con-
tributor to society," he explains,
radiating a kind of perseverance not
found in the average individual.
This week, a nationwide fundraising
effort for MS will kick off with a mass
meeting Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in the
Michigan Union's Pendleton Room. It

'When you're faced with no alternatives,
the only choice you have is to do the best
you can with what you've got.'
-Prof. D.L. Fisher,
multiple sclerosis victim

will offer University students the
chance to help Fisher and other MS
victims fight a disease which
primarily hits college-age people.
IN FACT, MS is "the most common
central nervous system disorder
among young people in the United
States," according to the National
Multiple Sclerosis Society.
LSA senior Anita Bolanos, chair-
woman of the Michigan Chapter of
Students Against Multiple Sclerosis,
said she hopes this year's campus MS

campaign -will double the money
made in last year's campaign. Last
year, University students raised over
$20,000, she said.
George Sansoucy, the national
campus coordinator of Students
Against Multiple Sclerosis, said the
goals of this year's campaign are "to
raise awareness of multiple sclerosis
and to raise money for research."
ACCORDING TO Dr. L. Cass Terry,
a University medical school
neurology professor, MS is a

degenerative disease of the central
nervous system which involves the.
abnormal breakdown of myelin - a
fatty substance that insulates nerves
and aids in the conduction of nerve
Terry says the most common sym-
ptoms of MS include "blurred vision,
loss of feeling or paralysis in one limb,
and dizziness." Progression of the
disease leads to failure of muscle
coordination or irregular muscle ac-
tion with possible paraplegia, he says.
However, the most debilitating
element of the disease is depression,
he adds, because "it hits you in your
most productive years."
RESEARCH IN recent years has
developed two prevalent theories
about the causes of MS, Terry says.
"Some researchers believe it (MS) is
an autoimmune disease where the
body.forms antibodies against the in-
sulating myelin," he explains.

Other researchers believe, Terry
says, that MS is "related to a com-
bination of environmental factors and
a virus. Unfortunately, however, no
one has been able to isolate the
specific virus."
Despite the potential link to a virus,
the National Multiple Sclerosis
Society says that the disease is not
contagious. Terry adds, however, that
"the incidence rate of MS is five times
higher in Northern Canadian border
states such as Michigan than in some
Southern states." The reasons for
these differences are unknown, Terry
Because of the many unknowns
concerning the origins of the disease,
there are currently no specific treat;
ments for it.
"The most important aspect 6f
treatment for MS patients ts
emotional and physical
rehabilitation," says Terry.


A five-year decline in drug use
among America's high school studen-
ts appears to have stalled in 1985, and
use of one of the most expensive and
dependence-producing drugs -
cocaine - is on the increase, Univer-
sity researchers report.
The 11th nationwide survey of 16,000
high school seniors from 132 public
and private high schools indicates
that an overall decline in the use of
both legal and illegal drugs recorded
over the past several years did not
continue this year.
THE STUDY, "Monitoring the
Future: A continuing Study of the
Lifestyles and Values of Youth," was
conducted by Dr. Lloyd Johnston,
program director at the University's
Institute for Social Research, along
with social psychologists Gerald
Backman and Patrick O'Malley.
"Beginning about 1980, there was an
important turnaround in young
people's attitudes about abusable
substances after nearly two decades
of continuous increases in use," John-
ston says.
"This year, however, only three
drugs showed continued decline -
amphetamines ("uppers"),
methaqualone, and to a lesser extent,
LSD," he continues.
Among the drugs on the increase is
marijuana, the survey showed. "We
do not want to understate the substan-
tial improvement which has been
made," Johnston says. "Daily
marijuana use is now less than half of1
what it was in 1978 (five percent ver-
sus 11 percent) and the statistics for a
number of other drugs are ap-
preciably lower than they were at
their peak levels.
"However, the rates of illicit drug
use which exist among American
young people today are still
troublesomely high and certainly
remain higher than in any other in-
dustrialized nation in the world,"
Johnston says.
"THE FACT that the use of one of
the most dependence-producing sub-
stances known to man - cocaine - is
once again increasing gives us groun-
ds for real concern," he adds.
4! Cocaine has been tried by 17 percent
of this year's seniors - the highest
rate observed so far in the continuing
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'The rates of illicit drug use which exist
among American young people today are
still troublesomely . high and certainly
remain higher than in any other in-
dustrialized nation in the world.'
-Dr. Lloyd Johnston,
University researcher

e drug u;
five percent) and a slight decrease in
monthly and annual use. Occasions of
heavy drinking (five or more drinks in
a row during the prior two weeks),
which last year showed a small
decline from 41 to 39 percent, declined
again in 1985, from 39 to 37 percent.
"Still, these figures are disturbing
to many people, since nearly half (45
percent) of the boys and over one-
fourth (28 percent) of the girls report
drinking this heavily at least once in
the prior two weeks," Johnston ob-
Of cigarettes, Johnston says: "In
the long run, smoking cigarettes will
probably cut short the lives of more of
this group than will the use of all other
drugs combined. One in five seniors
currently is a daily smoker. While this
rate is lower than the peak year of
1977, it is up from last year,,
The lesson to be drawn from the
study's findings, Johnston says, is
that we cannot take the improvement
of recent years for granted.
"The reduction of drug use from its
disturbingly high levels is going to

se stalled in '85


take a sustained, long-term effort on
the part of all sectors of society -
parents, educators, the entertainment

industry, professional athletes,
government leaders, and yourJg
people themselves," he says.


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"Cocaine use is up in 1985 among
virtually all of the subgroups we
examined, among both males and
females, college-bound and non
college-bound, rural and urban areas,
and all regions of the country except
the South," Johnston says. "While
this year's increase is notadramatic, it
breaks a pattern of stability which has
held for the preceding five years."
ABOUT 80 percent of the seniors
acknowledged the harmful effects of
using cocaine regularly (an increase
of 10 percent since 1979), but only
about one-third (34 percent) see much
risk in experimenting with it (up only
three percent since 1979). While 50
percent of the students said that
cocaine is easy to get, this figure is
much higher than in 1977, when it was
33 percent.
"It is important that the general
public comes to recognize the in-
sidious way in which a severe cocaine
dependency develops, or we are going
to see an already serious epidemic
expand even further," Johnston said.
"Certainly the best way to avoid
becoming one of the casualties is

never to start using this drug in the
first place."
PCP is another dangerous substan-
ce - because of its unpredictable and
often violent effects - which showed
some evidence of increased use this
RELATIVELY FEW students have
tried PCP (about 5 percent in this
year's class), and use appears to be
concentrated in New York, Los
Angeles, and Washington, D.C. Fur-
ther, the University study indicates
that usage rates today are 4.9 percent,
less than half of what they were in
Nevertheless, the - researchers
believe the apparent reversal in this
trend should be monitored closely,
given the extreme danger associated
with PCP. Furthermore, Johnston
noted a reversal effect - some
youngsters being attracted to the drug
because of its extreme dangers.
cigarettes, the two legal drugs in the
study, there was little change in
overall use of alcohol. There was a
slight increase in daily use (now at

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