Moral Guidance Key to Eradicating Teen Drug Abuse.
The “Just don’t do it” slogan from Bob Dole’s anti-drug campaign may, upon a cursory evaluation, appear to be an inefficient way of confronting the growing problem of national drug abuse. After all, it is hardly reasonable to believe that a potential drug user will specifically consider these words before deciding whether or not to get high.
However, this slogan, and the man that stands behind it, represent a sorely needed, value-oriented stance on the issue that has been lacking in the Clinton administration. The president’s cavalier attitude has been responsible for a dramatic increase in drug abuse among teenagers.
While Clinton’s baby boomer generation has dismissed aggressive anti-drug campaigns as ineffectual, the truth is that tough approaches to the problem have proven to be very successful. The Nixon, Reagan and Bush administrations are direct examples of this.
When Richard Nixon began his first term, use of marijuana and heroin had reached an all-time high. In response, he vowed to wage a national attack on narcotics abuse which involved reducing the flow of drugs into the country while stepping up drug treatment programs.
Nixon began his work by arranging for the extradition of noted heroin chemists, and sent ambassadors to negotiate narcotics agreements with foreign countries. Turkey, which provided about 80 percent of the U.
S. heroin supply promised a complete cessation of its production in exchange for $35.7 million in aid.
On the national level, the Nixon administration further proved its dedication to the cause by legalizing the use of drugs to combat addiction and by encouraging anti-drug commercials and television programs.
Although many were doubtful that these measures would have any impact, they did help to dramatically curtail drug abuse. In 1975, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced that while the purity of heroin had declined, the street price was four times greater.
The result was a marked decline in heroin abuse.
Unfortunately, the Carter administration failed to continue the vigorous anti-drug campaign. In fact, President Carter at one time advocated that marijuana possession be legalized. It is little wonder that, in the absence of strong moral leadership, by 1979 half of all teenagers were experimenting with the drug. Fortunately, Reagan was elected at this crucial time, and was succeeded by George Bush, who both strongly supported drug interdiction. Between the years of 1979 and 1992, teenage drug abuse was reduced by one-half.
The fluctuation of drug abuse statistics in accordance with changing political leadership is not coincidental. It is a direct reflection of the importance of presidential guidance on this issue.
The Republican presidents that took an aggressive anti-drug stance helped to drastically ameliorate the problem of addiction. Under their leadership, societal attitudes towards drug use changed. The belief that taking drugs was morally incorrect became more widespread. Most importantly, they proved that the war on drugs is not a losing battle.
Parents, educators and law enforcement officials do not have to accept drug abuse as a growing and irreversible trend.
Sadly, the Clinton administration appears to be espousing Carter’s apathetic stance on the issue. For the first part of his term he appointed a surgeon general who voiced support of drug legalization, and reduced the amount of resources available to the White House drug office. Evidence has emerged indicated that members of his own staff have taken drugs, and it is no secret that they have been subject to regular drug testing.
Most dismaying is that instead of denouncing his attempt to experiment with marijuana, President Clinton has made light of the subject, cavalierly joking about it on Music Television. If the President of the United States does not vehemently condemn the action of taking drugs, how can society expect today’s youth to attach any stigmatization or sense of shame to drug abuse?
In the wake of this record, it is not surprising that the use of heroin among teens has more than doubled in the last year.
Last month 32 out of 4,500 teenagers surveyed admitted to using the substance in .