Youths Who Reject Drugs Not Alone, First Lady Says

Associated Press

Teen-agers who say no to drugs may feel alone but they are not, First Lady Nancy Reagan told members of an anti-drug youth convention on Thursday.

"There are millions of kids who would stand by your side if they knew you needed help," Mrs. Reagan said in addressing the annual convention of the National Parents' Resource Institute for Drug Education, or PRIDE.

"Standing for what you believe in can be difficult," she said. "It's hard to be your own person."

Letters Ask for Help

Mrs. Reagan said she receives thousands of letters a year from young people who are hooked on drugs and asking for help.

Despite recent publicity, she said, a survey of California teen-agers showed that only 12% of those polled were aware of the dangers of cocaine.

A PRIDE survey of 40,000 students in 17 states showed that one high school senior in five drinks liquor at least once a week and that one in 10 smokes marijuana that often.

After her brief speech, Mrs. Reagan and country music star Larry Gatlin sang to the 1,800 mostly teen-age delegates from the United States and several foreign countries.

Other first ladies at the conference were Mrs. John Swan of Bermuda, Maria Barroso Soares of Portugal and Semra Ozal of Turkey.

'Outrage Is on Rise'

Earlier Thursday, Atty. Gen. Edwin Meese III told the group: "The level of popular outrage against drugs is on the rise, as it should be, and this may be the most important resource we have" in the war on drugs.

John C. Lawn, administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, said that, even if illegal drugs were to vanish tomorrow, the drug problem would not. Abuse of legal drugs is responsible for more drug overdose deaths and hospitalizations than marijuana, heroin or cocaine, he said.

Lawn said it is important for adults to provide accurate information about drugs because false scare tactics no longer will work on a drug-wise youth population that probably knows more about the subject than grown-ups.

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