With $1 million in seed money provided by the Justice Department, First Lady Nancy Reagan and Attorney General Edwin Meese yesterday launched a nationwide prevention and education initiative to fight drug and alcohol abuse.
"We all know that drug abuse has reached too many families and ruined too many lives," Mrs. Reagan told a group of business leaders invited to the kickoff meeting at the White House.
She said the National Partnership to Prevent Drug and Alcohol Abuse, for which she will serve as honorary chairman, will help make "my dreams of ending this terrible problem . . . a reality. However, I don't fool myself. It's going to take a lot of time, it can't be done overnight."
Meese, who introduced Mrs. Reagan and National Partnership board member Robert H.B. Baldwin, chairman of the investment banking firm Morgan Stanley, told reporters later that drug abuse is "the number one crime problem and number one youth problem."
He described the National Partnership effort as "an umbrella organization" that will act as a catalyst in drafting a strategy to fight drug abuse and to bring the latest health data on substance abuse to parent and other groups working at local levels.
He said 211 similar partnerships, subgroups of the national network, will be set up in major media markets around the country to provide antidrug information through television and radio spots.
Sponsoring the effort will be the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Although the Justice Department is providing the $1 million seed money, Meese said funds to operate the smaller partnerships will be raised locally.