Italy's Anna Craxi says that among the things she hopes to learn from Nancy Reagan's "summit" is how to use the media to raise public awareness. If if it means going on national television the way Nancy Reagan has, she'll even do that.
"The problem is no longer a middle-class problem but has reached the factories. It's a matter of national concern," the wife of Italy's Prime Minister Bettino Craxi says through an interpreter.
The problem used to be drug trafficking; now it has become one of refining and consumption. In the meantime, Italy's users have grown younger as well -- many are in their early teens when they first try illegal narcotics.
Craxi says one consequence has been an increase in juvenile crime -- "those young people resort to muggings, robberies and other felonies and misdemeanors in order to fulfil their habits."
The petite, auburn-haired mother of two, the daughter of a railway worker "with Socialist views," according to her biography, says her own children never experienced drugs. But when two close friends committed suicide by drug overdose 10 years ago, the Craxis were so affected by the tragedy that she wanted to do something. Today she is a member of a league to combat drugs in Lombardy. One project is trying to identify similar groups around the country and to coordinate what they are doing.
She says that last week her husband's cabinet decided to fund private initiatives in the hope that it will lead to an increase in similar efforts around the country. Everyone realizes that government facilities are unable to provide the volume of assistance necessary, she says.
She avoids taking sides on the question of who is responsible for funding drug abuse programs.
"Certainly the government is committed now, not so much in the past, but there is undoubtedly also an increase of awareness in the private sector," she says.