A CLOSER LOOK AT THE ORIGINS OF THE “JUST SAY NO” CAMPAIGN
- December 3, 2018
For decades now, our government has made countless efforts to more public victory in the aptly named War on Drugs. As dangerous substances like cocaine and crystal meth continue to ravage our streets and clinics, anti-drug initiatives seem to make a big impression in every political circuit, particularly the steps of the White House in our nation’s capital. Since First Lady Betty Ford created awareness for alcoholism and addiction (eventually resulting in the creation of the Betty Ford Hospital), more of our presidents’ wives have also striven to create awareness about this degenerative and chronic brain disorder. Just look at the case with First Lady Nancy Reagan (wife to President Ronald Reagan) and her work during a crux of drug activity: the 1980s. Let’s take a closer look at the origins of the “Just Say No” campaign, something so memorable it has become a catchphrase in our culture.
Here Comes the Crack Epidemic
In the early half of the 1980s, crack, the dangerously addictive natural form of cocaine was being developed in illegal markets and, through an unfortunate turn of events, grew in popularity among drug addicts. One key factor behind this phenomenon was the simple fact that, besides being addictive, crack is disgustingly cheap. Ultimately, this rise of crack led to an epidemic, spawning millions of cocaine addiction cases across the United States. In fact, by 1985, the number of cocaine users skyrocketed from 4.2 million to 5.8 million. From 1984 to 1987, ER visits stemming from cocaine addiction increased exponentially.
President Reagan’s War on Drugs
After assuming office in 1981, President Ronald Reagan guaranteed that he would tackle the epidemic of substance abuse and reinstate the War on Drugs (instigated by President Richard Nixon in the 1970s). Later, in 1986, President Reagan approved the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, allotting $1.7 million to combat drug addiction in the United States. As part of his fight against illegal and addictive substances, President Reagan’s wife Nancy stepped in to contribute her own arsenal for the War on Drugs: the Just Say No campaign.
Just Say No Campaign
Initiated in the 1980s, the “Just Say No” Campaign started as an initiative to prevent children from trying addictive, dangerous substances by one simple word: “no.” As part of her campaign, Mrs. Reagan toured the entire United States and spoke with representatives from news networks and talk shows. The late First Lady even appeared on public service announcements to increase public awareness.
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