Public Papers

Remarks at a White House Briefing on Drug Abuse Statistics


Thank you all very much. I am delighted to be here this morning with Lou Sullivan and John Walters to announce some very encouraging news about the state of the Nation's drug problem.

As you know, our administration remains fully committed to fighting this problem and stopping this scourge. And that was the promise I made to the American people in my Inaugural Address, and it is a promise that I intend to keep. And I continue to believe that the problem of drugs can be overcome with this clear national strategy and the hard work and combined efforts of millions of Americans. I am pleased to say that the news we have today suggests that our hard work is paying off and that our national strategy is having an effect.

In a moment, Dr. Sullivan, my Secretary at HHS, will describe for you the results of recent surveys conducted by his Department. But I wanted to emphasize how important I believe this new information is.

The national household survey and the emergency room data are the latest and most compelling evidence that drug use in America is declining significantly. And more importantly, it is declining all across the board. Overall drug use is down. Monthly cocaine use is down. Hospitals are reporting fewer drug-related emergencies. Even addictive drug use, which was once spiraling upward, has started to decline. Virtually every piece of information we have tells us that drug use trends are headed in the right direction: down. And most importantly, we are seeing these declines among the Nation's teenagers, evidence that they are learning to say no, learning to live a life free of drugs.

All of this is wonderful and welcome news. We were confident that progress would be made, but the magnitude of the progress is impressive indeed. Nevertheless, as long as there are hospital rooms filled with drug-affected babies, neighborhoods ravaged by drug violence, or children threatened by addiction, a declaration of victory would be premature. And that is why there will be no weakening of our Federal effort to battle drugs and drug trafficking in this country. And there will be no retreat in our efforts to end the international menace of drugs.

We've come this far because of the law enforcement officials, health professionals, teachers, parents, community leaders, and individual Americans who have shown tremendous courage and determination in the face of what at one point seemed like overwhelming odds. And I'm proud to say that because of their effort, the collective effort of all, we are beating those odds. We owe all who participate a vote of gratitude; and we will continue to support them in the fight against drugs, in every neighborhood, every community, every town, every city.

I want to thank all of you very much. And I will now turn things over to Dr. Sullivan for a little more detail on this news that I think will not only be encouraging in this country but will be very well-received abroad. It'll show that we are fighting the demand side of the equation, and that will send a strong signal to our international partners.

So, Lou, thank you, sir. And, John, thank you. And now with your forbearance, I'll take off and let you elaborate on the good news. Thank you, sir. Keep up the good work.

Note: The President spoke at 10:20 a.m. in Room 450 of the Old Executive Office Building. In his remarks, he referred to John P. Walters, Acting Director of National Drug Control Policy.