Address to the Nation on the Campaign Against Drug Abuse
The President. Good evening. Usually, I talk with you from my office in the West Wing of the White House. But tonight there's something special to talk about, and I've asked someone very special to join me. Nancy and I are here in the West Hall of the White House, and around us are the rooms in which we live. It's the home you've provided for us, of which we merely have temporary custody.
From the beginning of our administration, we've taken strong steps to do something about this horror. Tonight I can report to you that we've made much progress. Thirty-seven Federal agencies are working together in a vigorous national effort, and by next year our spending for drug law enforcement will have more than tripled from its 1981 levels. We have increased seizures of illegal drugs. Shortages of marijuana are now being reported. Last year alone over 10,000 drug criminals were convicted and nearly $250 million of their assets were seized by the DEA, the Drug Enforcement Administration.
in the most important area, individual use, we see progress. In 4 years the
number of high school seniors using marijuana on a daily basis has dropped from
1 in 14 to 1 in 20. The
Despite our best efforts, illegal cocaine is coming into our country at alarming levels, and million people regularly use it. Five hundred thousand Americans are hooked on heroin. One in twelve persons smokes marijuana regularly. Regular drug use is even higher among the age group 18 to 25 -- most likely just entering the workforce. Today there's a new epidemic: smokable cocaine, otherwise known as crack. It is an explosively destructive and often lethal substance which is crushing its users. It is an uncontrolled fire.
And drug abuse is not a so-called victimless crime. Everyone's safety is at stake when drugs and excessive alcohol are used by people on the highways or by those transporting our citizens or operating industrial equipment. Drug abuse costs you and your fellow Americans at least $60 billion a year.
the early days of our administration,
Reagan. Thank you. As a mother, I've always thought of September as a special
month, a time when we bundled our children off to school, to the warmth of an
environment in which they could fulfill the promise and hope in those restless
minds. But so much has happened over these last years, so much to shake the
foundations of all that we know and all that we believe in. Today there's a
drug and alcohol abuse epidemic in this country, and
no one is safe from it -- not you, not me, and certainly not our children,
because this epidemic has their names written on it. Many of you may be
thinking: ``Well, drugs don't concern me.'' But it does concern you. It
concerns us all because of the way it tears at our lives and because it's aimed
at destroying the brightness and life of the sons and daughters of the
5 years I've been traveling across the country -- learning and listening. And
one of the most hopeful signs I've seen is the building of an essential, new
awareness of how terrible and threatening drug abuse is to our society. This
was one of the main purposes when I started, so of course it makes me happy
that that's been accomplished. But each time I meet with someone new or receive
another letter from a troubled person on drugs, I yearn to find a way to help
share the message that cries out from them. As a parent, I'm especially
concerned about what drugs are doing to young mothers and their newborn
children. Listen to this news account from a hospital in
you can see why drug abuse concerns every one of us -- all the American family.
Drugs steal away so much. They take and take, until finally every time a drug
goes into a child, something else is forced out -- like love and hope and trust
and confidence. Drugs take away the dream from every child's heart and replace
it with a nightmare, and it's time we in
Our young people are helping us lead the way. Not long ago, in Oakland, California, I was asked by a group of children what to do if they were offered drugs, and I answered, ``Just say no.'' Soon after that, those children in Oakland formed a Just Say No club, and now there are over 10,000 such clubs all over the country. Well, their participation and their courage in saying no needs our encouragement. We can help by using every opportunity to force the issue of not using drugs to the point of making others uncomfortable, even if it means making ourselves unpopular.
Our job is never easy because drug criminals are ingenious. They work everyday to plot a new and better way to steal our children's lives, just as they've done by developing this new drug, crack. For every door that we close, they open a new door to death. They prosper on our unwillingness to act. So, we must be smarter and stronger and tougher than they are. It's up to us to change attitudes and just simply dry up their markets.
And finally, to young people watching or listening, I have a very personal message for you: There's a big, wonderful world out there for you. It belongs to you. It's exciting and stimulating and rewarding. Don't cheat yourselves out of this promise. Our country needs you, but it needs you to be clear-eyed and clear-minded. I recently read one teenager's story. She's now determined to stay clean but was once strung out on several drugs. What she remembered most clearly about her recovery was that during the time she was on drugs everything appeared to her in shades of black and gray and after her treatment she was able to see colors again.
So, to my young friends out there: Life can be great, but not when you can't see it. So, open your eyes to life: to see it in the vivid colors that God gave us as a precious gift to His children, to enjoy life to the fullest, and to make it count. Say yes to your life. And when it comes to drugs and alcohol just say no.
The President. I think you can see why
we seek a drug-free workplace at all levels of government and in the private
sector. Second, we'll work toward drug-free schools. Third, we want to ensure
that the public is protected and that treatment is available to substance
abusers and the chemically dependent. Our fourth goal is to expand
international cooperation while treating drug trafficking as a threat to our
national security. In October I will be meeting with key
order to further implement these six goals, I will announce tomorrow a series
of new proposals for a drug-free
Your government will continue to act aggressively, but nothing would be more effective than for Americans simply to quit using illegal drugs. We seek to create a massive change in national attitudes which ultimately will separate the drugs from the customer, to take the user away from the supply. I believe, quite simply, that we can help them quit, and that's where you come in.
generation will remember how
Those of you in union halls and workplaces everywhere: Please make this challenge a part of your job every day. Help us preserve the health and dignity of all workers. To businesses large and small: We need the creativity of your enterprise applied directly to this national problem. Help us. And those of you who are educators: Your wisdom and leadership are indispensable to this cause. From the pulpits of this spirit-filled land: We would welcome your reassuring message of redemption and forgiveness and of helping one another. On the athletic fields: You men and women are among the most beloved citizens of our country. A child's eyes fill with your heroic achievements. Few of us can give youngsters something as special and strong to look up to as you. Please don't let them down.
And this camera in front of us: It's a reminder that in Nancy's and my former profession and in the newsrooms and production rooms of our media centers -- you have a special opportunity with your enormous influence to send alarm signals across the Nation. To our friends in foreign countries: We know many of you are involved in this battle with us. We need your success as well as ours. When we all come together, united, striving for this cause, then those who are killing America and terrorizing it with slow but sure chemical destruction will see that they are up against the mightiest force for good that we know. Then they will have no dark alleyways to hide in.
this crusade, let us not forget who we are. Drug abuse is a repudiation of
The revolution out of which our liberty was conceived signaled an historical call to an entire world seeking hope. Each new arrival of immigrants rode the crest of that hope. They came, millions seeking a safe harbor from the oppression of cruel regimes. They came, to escape starvation and disease. They came, those surviving the Holocaust and the Soviet gulags. They came, the boat people, chancing death for even a glimmer of hope that they could have a new life. They all came to taste the air redolent and rich with the freedom that is ours. What an insult it will be to what we are and whence we came if we do not rise up together in defiance against this cancer of drugs.
there's one more thing. The freedom that so many seek in our land has not been
preserved without a price. Nancy and I shared that remembrance 2 years ago at
Look what they gave to us who live. Never would they see another sunlit day glistening off a lake or river back home or miles of corn pushing up against the open sky of our plains. The pristine air of our mountains and the driving energy of our cities are theirs no more. Nor would they ever again be a son to their parents or a father to their own children. They did this for you, for me, for a new generation to carry our democratic experiment proudly forward. Well, that's something I think we're obliged to honor, because what they did for us means that we owe as a simple act of civic stewardship to use our freedom wisely for the common good.
As we mobilize for this national crusade, I'm mindful that drugs are a constant temptation for millions. Please remember this when your courage is tested: You are Americans. You're the product of the freest society mankind has ever known. No one, ever, has the right to destroy your dreams and shatter your life.
down the end of this hall is the Lincoln Bedroom. But in the Civil War that
room was the one President Lincoln used as his office. Memory fills that room,
and more than anything that memory drives us to see vividly what President
Lincoln sought to save. Above all, it is that
Mrs. Reagan. Now we go on to the next stop: making a final commitment not to tolerate drugs by anyone, anytime, anyplace. So, won't you join us in this great, new national crusade?
The President. God bless you, and good night.
Note: The President spoke at from the Residence at the White House. The address was broadcast live on nationwide radio and television.