National Goal to Reduce Drug Abuse 25-Percent

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The deputy U.S. drug czar urged health professionals and counselors Wednesday to help in the ambitious effort to reduce the number of substance abusers by 25-percent the next five years.

"Ambitious? Oh, yes. Realistic? Only because of you _ your work, your efforts, your daily duties,"Mary Ann Solberg, deputy director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, said at the summer institute for addiction and prevention studies.

In a combination status report and pep talk to a gathering of federal, state and local officials, doctors, educators and drug and alcohol counselors, Solberg said her office has set three priorities in the national war on substance abuse:

* Prevent drug abuse before it starts

* Help America's drug users

* Disrupt the supply from both domestic and foreign sources

She said a media campaign aimed at steering people away from drug and alcohol abuse is aimed at both adolescents and adults, including the parents of youngsters.

In the past, she has urged adults to avoid even occasional alcoholic binges on a holiday or other special event as a means of conveying the message of restraint across to young people.

"We are changing not only the attitudes of parents, we are changing their behavior,"she said Wednesday.

She also endorsed using drug tests to help detect problems among students but said"drug testing is not something that must be done _ it's a tool."

She said that drug tests in the workplace help sort out workers who are impaired on the job.

"Students'job is to learn and they're not always in a shape to learn,"she said.

Solberg praised community anti-drug organizations for providing abusers or friends of abusers a place to turn and with reinforcing recovery.

She mentioned one group that sent a woman in recovery coupons for a manicure, a pedicure and a hairdo as a means of saying,"nice job."

Charles G. Curie, administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, noted that President Bush referred to substance abuse treatment in his State of the State message.

"We need to make substance abuse and mental health part of the health care system,"he said, since they sometimes are treated as separate issues.

"Our job is not completed by providing access to treatment,"he said.

"People need to have a life, to enjoy what they're doing. (Treatment) begins to help us frame that outcome."


On the Net: Office of National Drug Control Policy Web site:

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Web site: