Pubdate: Sat, 15 May 1999
Source: Statesman Journal (OR)
Copyright: 1999 Statesman Journal


Some Progress is Being Made, But The Battle Will Require Constant Effort

If ever a monster deserved to be attacked from all angles, it is illegal

Two events of the past week highlight different approaches to dealing with
the problem, emphasizing the need for responsible citizens to maintain
diligence in the fight against drugs. The events:

*About 2,000 area students gathered at the Oregon Capitol to clap, cheer and
chant "Drug free and proud!

*Narcotics officers broke up what they called a major drug- dealing
operation, arresting three Salem men while seizing methamphetamines and

The rally and the arrests were unrelated, but they exemplify the
communitywide effort that is necessary in the fight to slow drug use.

The war on drugs is a battle that never can be won. It is an endless fight,
one that must continue as long as drugs retain the ability to grab hold of
users and shake the life out of them. According to a 1998 study conducted by
the University of Michigan, drug and alcohol use by eighth-,10th- and 12th-
graders has dropped slightly during the 1990's. This demonstrates that the
message is being heard, but the fact that 49 percent of high school seniors
reported having tried marijuana is cause for alarm.

Some will argue that efforts to prevent drug use are a boondoggle, a
short-sighted attempt to prevent people from exercising their freedom of
choice. Such arguments must be summarily rejected. The cost of illicit drug
use is undeniable.  In truth, the substances rob the users of their freedom,
making them slaves to addiction. That addiction has negative consequences
for users, their families, their friends, their co-workers,etc. It has
negative consequences for all of us, making it imperative that the fight
against drug use continue.

The students who rallied at the Capitol understood this. They talked of a
commitment to remain drug-free. Though organizers of the rally --- and the
students themselves --- are to be commended, we must be mindful that such
feel-good solutions to a societal problem are far from adequate. We must be
mindful that rallies last a few moments, but prevention requires daily

Drugs always will hold an appeal for some people, and as long as demand is
prevalent, suppliers will be as well. The efforts of law enforcement, as
shown by the recent arrests, continue to be vital to the war on drugs.

Because in this never-ending battle, there is no room for complacency.

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