Drug Abuse Policy Office

Special Assistant to the President for Drug Abuse Policy, and Director of the White House Drug Abuse Policy Office, 1987-1988

Deputy Assistant to the President, and Director of the Drug Abuse Policy Office, 1988-1989


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This collection is available in whole for research use. Some folders may still have withdrawn material due to Freedom of Information Act restrictions. Most frequently withdrawn material is national security classified material, personal privacy, protection of the President, etc.



Donald Ian "Mac" Macdonald is a pediatrician, a former public health official and the founder of several organizations. His primary focus throughout his life's work has been children's health and prevention and treatment of drug abuse and alcoholism, especially in young people.

Donald Ian Macdonald was born in New York City on April 15, 1931, to parents who had immigrated to the United States from Canada. He grew up in New York City and the Long Island community of Stony Brook. In 1952, he graduated from Williams College in western Massachusetts with a B.A. degree. After two years in the Army, he enrolled in Temple University School of Medicine, graduating with an M.D. degree in 1958. He then served an internship at Duval Medical Center in Jacksonville, Florida, and a four-year residency in pediatrics at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in Philadelphia. In 1963, he moved to the Tampa-St. Petersburg area and opened his first medical practice.

Macdonald took leadership roles in several professional organizations, such as the Florida Pediatric Society and the American Academy of Pediatrics. He also became heavily involved in the fight against drug abuse, especially among the young. From 1980 to 1984, he was President of the Scientific Advisory Board for the American Council for Drug Education. From 1980 to 1982 he served as Director of Clinical Research for Straight, Inc., a drug rehabilitation program for adolescents.

In 1984 Macdonald left his medical practice to become Administrator of the Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration (ADAMHA), a unit of the Department of Health and Human Services. While leading ADAMHA, he also served as Acting Assistant Secretary for Health from December 1985 to July 1986.

In February 1987 Macdonald was appointed head of the White House Drug Abuse Policy Office (DAPO), with the additional responsibility of providing the Administration with advice on combating AIDS and the HIV virus. He also continued serving as Administrator of ADAMHA until June 1988. In August 1988, Macdonald was promoted from a White House Special Assistant to a Deputy Assistant. He remained on the White House staff until the end of the Reagan Administration.

After Macdonald left the White House, he developed the first formal training courses on interpreting the results of drug and alcohol testing programs. He founded Employee Health Programs (EHP), a company which contracts with other companies to perform employee drug test review and drug counseling. In 2004 he founded the Somerled Foundation (later renamed ChildAlive), a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting child and family health in poor countries.

Macdonald has authored numerous articles on drug abuse and raising children and published two books since leaving the White House: A Pediatrician's Blueprint: Raising Happy, Healthy, Moral and Successful Children, and updates to his title: Drugs, Drinking and Adolescents.

Macdonald currently lives in the Washington, DC area, where he remains involved with anti-drug abuse organizations.



Collection Note

The Donald "Mac" Macdonald collection documents a wide range of efforts by the Reagan Administration to combat drug abuse. The Office of Drug Abuse Policy (DAPO) coordinated the development and implementation of Administration policy on drug abuse. It was involved in public outreach to constituent groups and the general public, including children and youth. The Office coordinated the anti-drug activities of federal, state, and local law enforcement organizations. DAPO advised the Administration on legislation and Executive Orders pertaining to drug abuse, and worked with Nancy Reagan and the Office of the First Lady in the fight against drug and alcohol abuse.

This collection also documents Macdonald’s responsibilities in the fight against AIDS and the HIV virus. Series V has the most material on this topic, but the other series have some as well.

The collection has two subject files, one of which (Series II) is smaller in size and scope than the other (Series III). It is not clear why Macdonald and his staff maintained these separate file sets. Nor is it clear why some folders and documents in his collection carry numeric or alphanumeric codes. We are assuming they are some kind of filing system as they appear on other folders within this office.

The Reagan Library staff arranged Macdonald’s collection in 1990 and again in 2013. The 1990 arrangement included many files that contained only work product from Macdonald’s predecessor, Dr. Carlton Turner. Most of these files were transferred to Turner’s collection during the 2013 rearrangement.

Macdonald retained his previous post in the Reagan Administration, Director of Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Administration (ADAMHA), for 17 months. Some material in this collection, often pre-dating Macdonald’s time on the White House staff, was left in his collection because he clearly he used it in his work, including in his role as head of ADAMHA.

The Donald Ian Macdonald collection consists of ten series: SERIES I: Chronological File; SERIES II: Subject File; SERIES III: Drug Abuse Policy Office (DAPO) Subject File; SERIES IV: Correspondence; SERIES V: Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) File; SERIES VI: Conferences, Addresses and Meetings; SERIES VII: Personnel File; SERIES VIII: Publications; SERIES IX: White House Conference for a Drug Free America Material; SERIES X: Drug Abuse Policy Office Audio-Visual Material

SERIES 1: CHRONOLOGICAL FILE, 1988-1989 (0.3 l.ft., Box 1)

This series contains material (memos, letters and notes) to people in the Government and private sector who helped with anti-drug and anti-HIV efforts, drafts of presidential speeches that were routed to Macdonald for comment or information, and proposals for presidential events. The material in this series dates from August 1988-January 1989 after Macdonald was promoted to a Deputy Assistant to the President. Other series in Macdonald’s collection contain additional correspondence, including material prior to August 1988.

SERIES 2:  SUBJECT FILE, 1987-1989. (0.1 l.ft.; Box 1)

This series contains material regarding the HIV/AIDS epidemic report; facilities requests; the Report on the Family from the Domestic Policy Council; and White House Counsel decisions over external matters. The series contains all the subject material from the Macdonald collection not specifically regarding the Reagan Administration's anti-drug abuse efforts and policies. This series is arranged alphabetically by folder title.

SERIES 3: DRUG ABUSE POLICY OFFICE (DAPO) SUBJECT FILE, 1980-1988. (6.9 l.ft.; Box 2-18)

This series contains material relating to anti-drug organizations; legislation pertaining to drugs, such as the National Drug Abuse Act of 1986 and the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988; the scheduling of Macdonald’s travel and public appearances (cf. Series VI of this collection); proposals for White House anti-drug events; meetings and background materials involving the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Domestic Policy Council, the Domestic Policy Council Working Group on Drug Abuse Policy, the National Drug Policy Board, the US Coast Guard, and other federal, private sector, and nonprofit groups involved in anti-drug policy; the implementation of Executive Order 12564, “Drug-Free Federal Workplace”; proposed mandatory drug testing for federal employees; Congressional involvement in anti-drug and drug testing policy; presidential remarks and White House press releases pertaining to anti-drug policy; the potential involvement of the US Armed Forces in combating drug smuggling; the training of Latin American law enforcement officers by US Government staff; historical background material on issues affecting anti-drug policy; newspaper and magazine articles pertaining to drug abuse, alcoholism, and AIDS; and speech drafts, OMB bill reports, and other materials that were routed to the entire White House senior staff for comment or information. 

This series is arranged alphabetically by folder title. 

SERIES 4:  CORRESPONDENCE, 1986-1989. (0.7  l.ft., Boxes 18-19)

This series contains correspondence and other material relating to drug abuse policies and drug abuse prevention programs and activities with White House staff, members of Congress, state and local government officials, and members of the public. There are drug abuse schedule and event proposals for President and Mrs. Reagan, draft Presidential and First Lady speeches, draft talking points on anti-drug issues, unsolicited resumes, published materials on anti-drug efforts, and samples of some of the boilerplate letters used with Macdonald’s signature. 

This series includes some outgoing letters from Carlton Turner, Richard Williams, and Andrew Card. Dr. Turner preceded Macdonald as head of the Drug Abuse Policy Office. Mr. Williams was an assistant to Turner and Macdonald, who handled drug abuse issues in the two-month period between Turner’s departure and Macdonald’s arrival. Mr. Card was in the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, so many of the letters to state and local government leaders carried his signature.

SERIES 5: HUMAN IMMUNODEFICIENCY VIRUS (HIV) FILE, (1985-) 1987-1988. (5 l.ft., Boxes 20-32)

This series contains material relating to the fight against the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Most material pertains to the recommendations of the Presidential Commission on the Human Immunodeficiency Virus Epidemic. President Reagan established this group in June 1987, with members drawn from pertinent fields such as public health, medicine, law, insurance, and education. The Commission was to make recommendations that would help prevent the spread of HIV, find a cure for AIDS, and care for those who already had AIDS. It submitted its final report to President Reagan in June 1988. After receiving the report, Reagan issued a statement giving Macdonald 30 days to present a course of action for implementing the report’s recommendations, along with the guidance in the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) statement “AIDS in the Workplace.” 

This series includes draft and final copies of the HIV Commission’s report, lists of the report’s recommendations, draft and final memos to the President regarding the report, discussion of the positions that the Administration should take on each report recommendation (including input from Macdonald, other White House staff, federal agencies, local government organizations, and professional medical associations), and draft talking points to use with the President. Some folder titles refer to federal agencies that were assigned to study particular Commission recommendations.

This series also contains some publications pertaining to HIV/AIDS; Domestic Policy Council reports and minutes pertaining to HIV/AIDS, from Macdonald’s time as head of Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Administration (ADAMHA); and material pertaining to the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988. 

Other series in Macdonald’s collection contain additional material pertaining to HIV/AIDS.

SERIES 6  CONFERENCES, ADDRESSES, AND MEETINGS, 1987-1988 (1.2 l.ft.; Boxes 32-35)

This series contains material relating to Macdonald’s meetings, travel, and speaking engagements, including some that were canceled. Some events were for MacDonald as the Director of the White House Drug Abuse office and some events were for Macdonald as head of the Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Administration (ADAMHA). The material includes trip and event proposals, correspondence with participating organizations, texts of speeches and talking points, conference materials such as schedules and brochures, and administrative materials such as travel forms. The events involved private sector organizations, Congressional committees, medical associations, and representatives of state and foreign governments. 

The events, meetings and engagements in Series VI are dated mainly from October 1987-June 1988. Series II and III of Macdonald’s collection contain additional material pertaining to his scheduled events, including events held prior to October 1987 or after June 1988.

SERIES 7:  PERSONNEL FILE, 1983-1988. (0.1 l.ft., Box 35)

This series contains administrative material relating to people who worked in the Drug Abuse Policy Office as detailees or consultants, or who sought Administration positions in the field of combating drug abuse. It also includes copies of publications pertaining to anti-drug efforts. Some material predates Macdonald’s time in the Drug Abuse Policy Office.

SERIES 8: PUBLICATIONS, (1962-) 1975-1988. (4.6 l.ft., Boxes 35-47)

This series contains articles, books, and other published items, most of which pertain to drug abuse issues. Sources include the U.S. government, state and local governments, foreign governments, and experts in the fields of drug abuse, health, medicine, and counseling. Many of the publications are from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a unit within the Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration.  The material is arranged alphabetically by author (person or office unit).


This series contains material relating to the planning and execution of the White House Conference for a Drug Free America that took place in 1988. This series contains memos, reports, budgetary information, press releases, newspaper articles, congressional communications, and coordination material between the White House Drug Abuse Policy Office, other federal agencies, and the First Lady’s Office. Material for this series was transferred to Macdonald’s collection from the Sue Daoulas’ collection. The material is arranged alphabetically by folder title. 


This series contains videotapes, audiotapes, and LP records. The Reagan Library has transferred all this material to audiovisual storage for preservation reasons. Access to this material is through the Reagan Library audiovisual archivist. 

Last Updated: 09/22/2022 05:41PM

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