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The Facts About Drug Abuse

The Drug Abuse Council, 1980


IN 1970, at the peak of the drug scare, the trustees of the Ford Foundation decided that piecemeal measures were not enough. As a first step in a major program the Foundation asked Patricia M. Wald, now a United States Circuit judge in the District of Columbia, and Peter B. Hutt, a Washington lawyer, to undertake a survey in depth of drug abuse and to suggest what private foundations might contribute to understanding, if not solution, of the problem. In their report to the Foundation published in 1972 -Dealing with Drug Abuse-judge Wald and Mr. Hutt said:

It is of fundamental importance that man has and will inevitably continue to have potentially dangerous drugs at his disposal, which he may either use properly or abuse, and that neither the availability of these drugs nor the temptation to abuse them can be eliminated. Therefore, the fundamental objective of a modern drug-abuse program must be to help the public learn to understand these drugs and how to cope with their use in the context of everyday life. An approach emphasizing suppression of all drugs or repression of all drug users will only contribute to national problems.

There is an urgent need for effective nongovernmental leadership toward a more reasoned approach to drug abuse in this country. A void exists that we believe can be filled by the creation of a new Drug Abuse Council. In our best judgment, the Council could successfully exert this leadership and could have a substantial and beneficial impact on drug abuse in this country.

According to McGeorge Bundy, then President of the Ford Foundation,

The second important step was to join with three other foundations that have shared our concern with drug abuse-the Carnegie Corporation, the Commonwealth Fund, and the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation-in financing one of the principal recommendations of the report, namely, the establishment of an independent national Drug Abuse Council.

(The Equitable Life Assurance Society joined the foundations in contributing to the expenses of the Council.)

The Council was organized in January 1972, but only after it had been determined that a widely representative board of directors and a highly competent staff could be assembled for about five years of active service. The last formal meeting of the board was held in June 1978, and since then the President of the Council, Dr. Thomas E. Bryant, and the staff have been engaged in the preparation of this Final Report.

The Report demonstrates that widespread misuse or abuse of dangerous drugs-not just heroin, marijuana, and cocaine, but alcohol and caffeine, and a great variety of stimulants and tranquilizers, some prescribed, some sold over the counter-is not an evil that can be extirpated by legislation or other means. Yet it is believed that an informed society, aware of the complexities of the issues and evidence, will be better able to cope constructively with the use of drugs. This belief underlies this Final Report.

It is not the function of a foreword to anticipate the findings and conclusions of a massive study. It would, however, be gross neglect not to acknowledge in this foreword the exceptional contributions of the directors, the officers and staff and consultants of the Council, and the foundations and many others who have enabled the Council to apply knowledge and reason to the understanding and treatment of a major national problem. These include:

Judge Wald and Mr. Hutt, the Co-chairmen, and James V. DeLong, the extraordinarily able Executive Director of the Ford Foundation survey staff, who produced Dealing with Drug Abuse-the seminal study that led to the creation of the Council.

The directors of the Council for regular attendance at meetings, for the information and wisdom and wit that enriched the deliberations of the board, and especially Dr. Bryant for the personal and professional qualities that underpinned his indispensable leadership.

And, of course, the Ford Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation, the Commonwealth Fund, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, and the Equitable Life Assurance Society, for the financial support essential to a major private enterprise.

And the Council here records special gratitude to the senior officers and responsible staff of the Ford Foundation for six years of unfailing interest and support.




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