WASHINGTON — The longtime rallying cry of a "war on drugs" to describe the effort to curtail illegal drug use in the United States has become "misleading," the White House drug policy director says.
A more accurate comparison is to the fight against cancer--"Prevention coupled with treatment accompanied by research," Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey said in his final report on America's drug problem.
"Although wars are expected to end, drug education--like all schooling--is a continuous process," the retired four-star general said in the report, which is to be presented today at the White House.
"The moment we believe ourselves victorious and drop our guard, drug abuse will resurface in the next generation. To reduce the demand for drugs, prevention must be ongoing," according to the report obtained Wednesday by Associated Press.
McCaffrey, who is stepping down Friday as director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, was adding treatment as one of the goals of the National Drug Control Strategy. Treatment programs, he said, can "reduce the consequences of addiction." Providing access to them for chronic drug abusers is "compassionate public policy and a sound investment."
Among the other elements of the drug-control strategy:
* Educating and enabling youth to reject illegal drugs as well as alcohol and tobacco.
* Increasing Americans' safety by reducing drug-related crime and violence.
* Shielding air, land and sea frontiers from the drug threat.
* Breaking foreign and domestic drug sources of supply.
"Along with prevention and treatment, law enforcement is essential for reducing drug use," McCaffrey said. "Illegal drug trafficking inflicts violence and corruption on our communities. Law enforcement is the first line of defense against such unacceptable activity."
McCaffrey also is urging the Bush administration to continue successful anti-drug programs. He cites a 21% decline in drug use by teenagers in the last two years as well as a 50% drop in overall drug use. Drug-related crimes and murders also have plummeted, he said.