Remarks at the National
Conference on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention in
Thank you all very much. Why do I have a feeling that I'm preaching to the choir? [Laughter] Before I get into the subject that brought me here, maybe you'd be interested in a news note. I've been rather uptight all day, because up in the House of Representatives there has been a morning devoted to overriding my veto of a trade bill that I thought would be very destructive to our prosperity and to the things that we're trying to accomplish with regard to getting free and fair trade throughout the world. We had to get 142 votes of those present in order to prevent them from overriding my veto. I was just handed a slip of paper here a moment ago -- we got 149. So, your present speaker comes before you as a very happy fellow. [Laughter]
I appreciate this opportunity to express my thanks for all that you're doing to meet one of the most serious challenges our country faces. The use of illegal drugs and abuse of alcohol can no longer be shrugged off as somebody else's business. Today it's everybody's business -- every man, woman, and child who loves his country, community, and family. It's time to stand up and be counted, and this you are doing. So, it's a pleasure to be here with individuals who are doing just that. The usual format for speeches such as this is opening with a bit of humor to get things moving. Today, if you will excuse me, I think the gravity of the problem we're discussing precludes humor. Drug and alcohol abuse are taking the lives of people we love. What can be more important than putting a stop to that?
the casualty list you'll find the poor, the middle class, the rich and famous;
hundreds, even thousands, per year -- dead. Who has not felt the heartache of
hearing the news of a friend or family member, someone who had so much to live
for but is now gone forever? Who has not felt the frustration of watching
helplessly as loved ones or dear friends slide to personal ruin? Len Bias and
Don Rogers, gifted athletes who had so much more to achieve, are only two of
the most recent fatalities. One doesn't have to be a conservative to appreciate
that the vitality and resilience of
Today we must all be as one family in tackling this problem. The young fellow down the street using marijuana must no longer be a problem just for his own mother and father. The fellow at the next desk at work who gets stoned and at times is groggy on the job must no longer be just the boss's headache. The young coed, popping pills or snorting coke, must no longer be excused for just doing her thing. If we care, we'll be firm with these members of the American family. And if we care, we must act. And that doesn't mean, as you've been told, put them in jail -- that means help free them from drugs.
few days ago I called on all Americans not simply to support a government antidrug effort but to be an active part of a crusade
Sports figures have a tremendous influence. I hope that every athlete will reflect on the impressions he or she gives as a role model to young, adoring fans. All those in the sports world should understand what a great force for good they can be. And you know, in that area, that would be a return, because I was a sports announcer at the beginning of my career -- broadcasting major league baseball and the big university football and so forth -- and you might be interested to know that back in that era, no sports figure would endorse cigarettes or beer. Drugs weren't a problem at that time because they knew they were role models and felt that they had an obligation to be the right kind of role model for all of our young people. So, we are asking for that to be returned. And I want to thank Dr. Bowen and his team over at HHS for the leadership they are providing on this issue. One example is the enlistment of major league ballplayers, like Mike Schmidt of the Philadelphia Phillies, to participate in an education program against cocaine, the killer drug.
a special word of thanks to Dr. Macdonald of the Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and
Mental Health Administration who is a real champion in our crusade. Mac was
actually active with
Early on in the administration, we focused on interdiction and eradication, on hitting the growers, the transporters, and the sellers. Well, our assault on supply has had some notable success and will continue. But what we've launched in the last few days has been what I think is the real answer, an offensive against demand. This, in the long run, is the answer. Let's take the customers away from the drug peddlers. It is clear that our domestic drug demand fuels international drug trafficking and cuts at the social, political, and economic fabric of friendly countries.
Today I am announcing that in September I will be calling back for special consultations our Ambassadors from other countries which may face major drug production, transportation, or consumption problems. I'll outline the steps that we're taking to strike at the heart of this monster by curbing domestic demand so they can take the message back with them to the countries where they serve. Together, all countries must send the message: No drug networks will remain alive. We mean to have a drug-free country, and the world should know we mean business. There're already reasons for optimism. In our Armed Forces in general, drug use has been cut by 67 percent since 1980. The daily use of marijuana among our high school students is down, as is the use of a variety of drugs for high school and college students.
sum total of this can be looked at as a good first step. One of the joys of my
Presidency is getting to meet and know this generation of American youth. I
think it's one of the finest we've ever had. If he hadn't said it first, back
at the beginning of World War II when someone asked General George Marshall
what was our secret weapon, and he said, ``The best blankety-blank
kids in the world.'' [Laughter] Well, I think it would well be that this
generation will lead
this week I announced six goals for us to focus our attention on, goals that
This is not just a fight for government. It's not just leadership from the White House and the statehouse, but leadership from the pulpit, the union hall, the corporate office, the school board, and from the media that will permit us to rid our land of this scourge. Consistent with the theme of your conference, ``Sharing Knowledge for Action,'' we must make drug use the top item in the national dialog, so that every citizen realizes what the stakes are, for the individual and for the country. Plato said long ago, ``For our discussion is on no trifling matter, but on the right way to conduct our lives.''
we must determine how we, as free people, will conduct our lives, what our
standards are, what behavior we will and will not tolerate. The time has come
to decide on this issue and act, each of us. I want to thank all of you for the
magnificent work you are doing, and will continue to do, to ensure that
Note: The President spoke at in the ballroom at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.