Statement by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Speakes Announcing an Address by the President and Mrs. Reagan on Drug Abuse

September 4, 1986

On Sunday, September 14, at 8 o'clock eastern time, the President and Mrs. Reagan will address the Nation from their living quarters at the White House on the subject of what we, the American family, can do to win the war on illegal drug use. This is an unprecedented event. The Reagans have never before participated in a joint television address, and I am not aware of any other President and First Lady TV address, either. They wanted to do it together, from their home to our homes, as parents and friends as well as the First Couple, to stress the importance of all segments of our society pulling together in a common, determined effort to get rid of drugs.

Throughout her campaign against drug abuse, Mrs. Reagan has stressed the need for every American to take a stand and do their part in this war. She has traveled the country from coast to coast and has even brought her message overseas. On Sunday night the President and Mrs. Reagan will bring that message into every home, every school, every college campus, every locker room, every corporate boardroom, every office, every studio. The Reagans will make it clear that their commitment to making ours a drug-free society is not some passing fancy; it is something which they take as seriously as anything on the national agenda and one which they are determined to win. But they know they cannot do it alone, and Sunday night they will appeal for the help of every citizen -- young and old, rich and poor, mothers and fathers, coaches and athletes, actors and producers, corporate board chairmen and mailroom clerks. The Reagans seek to mobilize this country as it has never been mobilized before. They want everyone to join in the effort to help their fellow citizen give up or stay away from drugs.

Our most powerful weapon in the war on drugs is a determined campaign of public education to warn Americans, and particularly our youth, of the dangers of illegal drug use. This is what Mrs. Reagan has been doing over the past few years, and this is what the Reagans' speech Sunday night will be. They hope it will be the day when people everywhere decide to make illegal drug use a thing of the past. When the chapter on how America won the war on drugs is written, the Reagans' speech is sure to be viewed as the turning point. The Reagans are making this address because there is a crisis -- nothing less -- in our country today, and it disturbs them deeply to see so many lives -- especially young lives -- ruined by drugs. The six-point Reagan program against illegal drug abuse is one which we believe can succeed and one which must succeed.

1) Drugs have no place in the workplace. The office cannot be the place where one goes to use drugs. Productivity suffers. Relationships suffer. Peoples' lives suffer. The Federal Government must and will set the example in terms of being sure those in sensitive positions are not using drugs and in developing a compassionate, effective way to help those who are.

2) Our nation's schools -- from grade schools to colleges -- must maintain their place as the center for what is good and right. The best lesson a school can teach is: Drugs are bad.

3) We need more information on drugs, drug treatment, and drug testing. We know a lot now, but we need to know more. What we know about drugs is frightening. But every day brings more information, and we must keep our research going strong. Drug treatment centers have made important and encouraging strides toward putting back together the shattered lives of drug users and their families and friends. And there are encouraging developments in the drug testing field: better ways for quicker and confidential testing.

4) International cooperation is a key element of the program. Drug abuse is not just an American problem; it is a world problem. And while the Reagans are taking the lead, they need to be joined by world leaders and world law enforcement agencies in shutting down drug smugglers. Drug smugglers must know that nowhere on this planet will their murderous activities be tolerated.

5) In this country, too, our law enforcement personnel have a key role to play. Policemen and judges are central figures who must act in a manner which makes every potential pusher think long and hard about what he is about to do. Wrist slapping for pushing must end.

6) Together, the public and private sectors must expand public awareness of the dangers of illegal drugs. We must work with the private sector to create the attitude that any illegal substance use is wrong. The antidrug abuse campaign does not belong exclusively to the Government; it is a campaign of which all segments of our society must become a part. We must stand together as one in the war against drugs.

The Reagans are writing this speech together -- in fact, they've already started. It will be a message which strikes at the very essence of what we as a society are all about. It will be candid, and it will be hopeful. It will be a message of concern and compassion. Sunday, September 14th, will truly be a special night for this country.