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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
December 13, 2008

President's Radio Address

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. This week, our country received good news in the fight against illegal drugs. New data show that illicit drug use amongst young people continues to decline -- and that we are making good progress in our efforts to help thousands of Americans renew their health and hope.

Substance abuse is a serious challenge for our Nation. Addiction breaks hearts, destroys families, and keeps our citizens from fulfilling their God-given potential. The drug trade also enriches our enemies, and brings crime and violence to our streets. So in 2002, I committed our Nation to an ambitious effort to cut drug use by limiting demand, reducing supply, and helping addicts get treatment.


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Over the past six years, we've made great strides toward these goals. Parents, teachers, mentors, and counselors have done fantastic work to educate children about the dangers of drug abuse. Law enforcement officers have risked their lives to cut the supply of drugs on city streets. And with help from our international partners, we're pursuing drug dealers around the world, and interdicting supply before it reaches our shores. This year, the Coast Guard took possession of more than 360,000 pounds of South American cocaine -- an all-time record.

To help Americans break the chains of addiction, we've built strong partnerships with faith-based and community groups. These groups open minds and change hearts in a way no government bureaucracy can -- so my Administration has supported their life-changing work. Through our Access to Recovery program, addicts receive vouchers they can redeem at treatment centers of their choice -- including faith-based centers. So far, this program has helped more than 260,000 addicts along the path toward clean lives.

Taken together, our efforts to reduce demand, cut supply, and help people break the chains of addiction are yielding measurable results. Over the past seven years, marijuana use by young people has dropped by 25 percent. Methamphetamine use by young people is down by 50 percent. And the use of cocaine, hallucinogens, steroids, and alcohol by America's youth are all on the decline. Overall, illegal drug use by Americans is down by 25 percent -- meaning we have helped approximately 900,000 young people stay clean.

These statistics reflect successful government policies. They also represent the courage and compassion of Americans who are determined to help their fellow citizens win their struggle against drugs. On Thursday, I met with some of these people at the White House, and I am inspired by their stories.

I was especially interested in a young man named Josh. At age 19, Josh had never touched drugs or alcohol. He had a promising life and career ahead of him. Yet after a car accident left him injured and unable to work, Josh started abusing alcohol and cocaine. He put his marriage and career in jeopardy. Eight different treatment programs failed to turn his life around -- but the intervention of his grandmother, the support of his wife, and the loving influence of God did. Today, this young man is free of drugs. He's a caring husband and father. And Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers is one of the best players in Major League Baseball. More importantly, he and his wife Katie make time to share their blessings. Through their ministry, they're helping other Americans avoid the suffering their family endured.

Josh Hamilton shows that the devastation of drug addiction can happen to anyone -- but that with faith and determination, anyone can turn a life around. So today I ask every American with a drug or alcohol problem to seek treatment -- because your life is precious to the people who love you, our Nation needs your contributions, and there is a more hopeful future ahead. I ask all Americans to reach out to your neighbors in need -- and do your part to help our Nation win the fight against illegal drugs. Thank you for listening.

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