Former drug czar calls for emphasis on education
8/2/2004 4:10 PM
By: News 8 Austin Staff

Education is one of the biggest and most effective weapons in the war on drugs, a former national drug czar said while visiting Austin Monday.

Barry McCaffrey, addressing more than 1,200 members of the Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse (TCADA), said that by sixth grade it is critical kids are taught about the dangers of drugs.

For warnings to succeed, they must be continued through the college years, he said. But he faulted campuses for neglecting the anti-drug messages that primary schools put so much effort into inculcating.

"College administrators have to face up to it and have to have a healthy understanding for young people that we are paying an enormous amount of money to have them educated, and they walk away from that responsibility, in large part and when they try something, they get tremendous backlash, not just from students but parents and alumni associations," McCaffrey said.

The general laid out the social and financial effects of drug use. According to TCADA statistics, 609 percent of those arrested test positive for illegal substances.

"The biggest expenditure of our society are managing the consequences of drug abuse. It's prisons, health care, the court system," he said. "Every drug addict is a one-person wrecking machine."

McCaffrey called for more focus on drug education and insurance coverage for rehab patients.

"Communities have a drug problem. The metaphor you and I are talking about here isn't the 'war on drugs,' it's a cancer affecting all communities," he said.

Professional sports leagues, in particular, should do more to prohibit drugs. Regarding Ricky Williams's controversial retirement, among other things over marijuana use, he said trainers and coaches should be held accountable.