Kitty Dukakis, recalling her 26-year addiction to amphetamines, urged a group of children Wednesday not to use drugs, telling them that since she was cured "life is so much sweeter."

"I couldn't stop using them and I became addicted," she said. "The words I want to say to you are `don't start.' "Her husband, Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, stood by her side as she spoke, just hours before he was to be nominated as the Democrats' choice for president.

"I probably wouldn't be here today as the wife of the Democratic nominee for the presidency of the United States," Mrs. Dukakis said. "I'm not sure that my husband would be running for the presidency of the United States if I was still using them."

Later, at a reception held for Mrs. Dukakis by the Democratic National Committee, Dukakis saluted his wife as a trusted adviser and said she would be an active first lady.

"I don't have to tell you I'm blessed with a wonderful spouse," Dukakis told the gathering at Atlanta's Fox Theater. "You're going to hear about homelessness from Kitty Dukakis, and you're going to hear about refugees."

At the morning event in Conyers, Mrs. Dukakis told the children gathered outside a building that serves as home to the area's Boys Club and Girls Club that she began taking the pills at the age of 19 because she wanted to lose weight. She urged young girls in the audience with similar worries to eat well and exercise and to steer clear of drugs.

Mrs. Dukakis disclosed her amphetamine addiction last year.