|Saturday February 28,
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. For many years, illegal drug use has been a serious problem facing our country. Drugs cost people their savings and their health, and rob children of their promise. My administration is taking action to confront this danger. We have pursued an ambitious, focused strategy to cut demand for drugs at home, interdict supplies of drugs abroad, and treat more addicts who seek help.
In 2002, I set a goal to reduce illegal drug use by 10 percent over two years, and by 25 percent over five years. This Monday, we will release the annual National Drug Control Strategy, which shows the impressive progress we have made. Youth drug use declined 11 percent between 2001 and 2003, meaning 400,000 fewer young people used drugs. These results exceeded our goal, and proved that our hard work is paying off.
This year, we will expand our strategy so that we can make even greater progress in the fight against drugs. The best way to cut drug use is to cut demand for drugs at the ground level. So my budget includes a $10-million increase for drug-free communities, a common-sense prevention program that supports local coalitions working to stop young people from using drugs.
Research shows that teenagers who abstain from drugs are unlikely to start using them later in life. So I have asked Congress to provide an additional $23 million for high schools who want to develop and carry out drug testing programs. Random drug testing gives students a strong answer to the social pressure to try drugs. It helps schools identify those using drugs so they can intervene with counseling and treatment before experiments turn into addictions.
We've seen the positive results of drug testing across the country. Just two years after Hunterdon Central Regional High School in New Jersey began its testing program, drug use had declined significantly throughout the school. Hunterdon's principal described the program's effect this way: "We have never seen a prevention curriculum that affected the numbers this substantially. We finally had a tool that was making a large difference."
As we reduce demand for drugs, we're also preventing drug supplies from entering our country. Our military and law enforcement personnel are targeting the world's most dangerous drug trafficking networks. We are dismantling these organizations and putting their leaders in jail. And by working with governments across our hemisphere, we are drying up the world's supply of illegal drugs at its source.
Finally, we are taking steps to help those who have fallen into the destructive cycle of addiction. Drug dependence undermines productivity, as well as moral conviction and devastates millions of families each year.
Some addicts recognize their problem and want to change, but cannot afford access to professional care. To help men and women like these, I launched an initiative called Access to Recovery. This program will help thousands of Americans get the treatment they need. And because I know a good way to change a person's behavior is to change their heart, faith-based treatment programs will always be an option. Congress has provided $100 million for this life-saving program. And this year, I have asked to double that amount.
The progress reported in this year's Drug Control Strategy is encouraging. Our goals are ambitious, and we have seen they can be achieved. Now we will build on the improvement of the past two years. And we will continue working toward a society in which all citizens can lead a life of independence and purpose, free from the devastating influence of drugs.
Thank you for listening.
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