Portland NORML News - Monday, December 22, 1997

Portland Wins Bid For Drug Program (Eleven Other US Cities Will Participate
In New $195 Million Federal Project To Keep Young People 'Off Drugs')

'The Oregonian'
Monday, December 22, 1997

* Twelve cities will take part in the first phase of a
$195 million federal project to keep young people
off drugs

By Dana Tims
of The Oregonian staff

April B. Whitworth isn't sure about the statistics,
but she welcomed President Clinton's
announcement Sunday naming Portland as one of
a dozen cities to participate in a new program to
keep young people off drugs.

Whitworth, a drug treatment program manager
for adolescents, disputed the program's underlying
assumption that U.S. youth are turning away
from drugs.

But along with city, police and school officials,
she hailed Portland's inclusion in the $195 million
program. She said its strong educational and
prevention component stands a good chance of
diverting children from drugs before they ever
start using them.

"This is wonderful news for everyone involved in
the effort to keep children from using drugs," said
Whitworth, program manager for CareMark
Behavorial Services. in Portland. "It's a lot better
to see the money spent ahead of time, when we
can still reach them, than only when it's too late
and we've already lost them."

Portland is among the cities in the program's $20
million opening phase. The money will pay for a
variety of anti-drug messages, targeted at children
ages 9 to 17. The messages will appear in
numerous places, including television and the

Portland Mayor Vera Katz enthusiastically
embraced the venture and Portland's role in it.

"Everything I've seen indicates drug use is still a
very serious problem here and that a lot of the
gang activity and violence on Portland's streets is
related to drug use," Katz said. "Whatever
success we can have in sending a strong anti-drug
message to our young people will be very

Katz said the city's inclusion in the program stems
from a Regional Drug Initiative grant submitted to
the federal government.

How much of the program's financing might
come to Portland, or whether the city will
participate in all phases of the effort, was unclear

Gen. Barry McCaffrey, director of the Office of
National Drug Control Policy, said the program
would "harness the energies of parents, mass
media, corporate America and the anti-drug
coalitions to halt and reverse the disturbing rise in
drug use among young people."

In addition to Portland, the ads will be tested
from January through April in Atlanta; Baltimore;
Boise; Denver; Hartford, Conn.; Houston;
Milwaukee; San Diego; Sioux City, Iowa;
Tucson, Ariz.; and Washington, D.C.

The program will try to capitalize on recent
statistics showing that more young people in the
United States are turning away from drugs,
McCaffrey said. But Whitworth said she hasn't
seen that trend in Portland.

"The number of kids using drugs is as high right
now as it's ever been, if not higher," she said.
"But this is just the target audience you want to
hit with this message, and I'm very excited about
its potential."

* On Saturday, Clinton released results from a
new national survey suggesting that drug use
among eighth-graders appears to have
stopped climbing for the first time in more
than five years.

* Among the 18,600 eighth-graders surveyed,
29.4 percent said they had tried an illegal
drug, usually marijuana, compared with
31.2 percent last year.

* In Oregon, trends are going the other way.

* Juveniles arrested for drug-related offenses
in the state have quadrupled since 1991,
according to another survey. The number of
teens who tested positive for drugs after
arrest jumped from 12 percent in 1992 to 33
percent last year.

* Other local officials held out hope that the
latest anti-drug initiative can help reduce
those numbers.

* "For every person we can prevent from
using drugs, we save many thousands of
dollars, on my side, in prosecuting and
incarcerating people," said Multnomah
County District Attorney Michael Schrunk.
"Prevention is clearly the way we need to

* Drug prevention remains the cheapest and
least pursued tool to reduce adolescent drug
use, he said.

The 12 cities were chosen for their diverse ethnic,
demographic and geographic audiences,
McCaffrey said. The messages will focus on
"entry-level," or easily obtained, substances such
as marijuana and inhalants.

Some cities also will have ads targeting drug
problems specific to their areas, he said.




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