DRCNet Response to the
Drug Enforcement Administration
The DEA is actively involved in drug prevention and education efforts designed to reduce the demand for drugs in this country. These efforts are coordinated through DEA's Demand Reduction Program, which was formally created in 1986 in response to the realization that in order to mount a comprehensive attack against the drug problem, efforts must be undertaken to reduce both the supply and the demand for illegal drugs. The focus of the program is to educate the public about the dangers associated with illegal drugs and to prevent drug abuse before it occurs.
Unlike the drug demand reduction programs of some of the larger federal agencies, DEA neither conducts research nor disburses grants. DEA's unique approach is to provide people, with no red tape, when grassroots organizations need help. In many cases, what state and local officials and private organizations want and need most is to be shown how to start and operate drug prevention programs. They want oportunities for repeated meetings with people possessing firsthand experience to share. In this area the DEA excels.
The Demand Reduction Section in the Office of Congressional and Public Affairs at DEA Headquarters sets policy and produces most of the publications, posters, and handouts used in the field. Nevertheless, the great bulk of the activity takes place in the field. There the program is operated by Special Agents, known as Demand Reduction Coordinators (DRCs).
Each of DEA's 20 field divisions has a DRC, whose role it is to provide leadership and support to local agencies and organizations as they develop drug education and prevention programs designed to meet their specific needs.
As Special Agents, the DRCs bring a unique perspective to the drug prevention arena; they have a clear understanding of the overall drug situation, and a broad range of experience in working with other law enforcement agencies. This expertise is critical to linking effective law enforcement with comprehensive prevention programs that provide a holistic response to the drug problem.
In 1996, the DEA and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America began a partnership in a number of major U.S. cities. DEA Demand Reduction Coordinators will work with Club Directors to keep boys and girls off drugs.
The DEA Demand Reduction Program gives priority to six areas:
Although polls indicate the public strongly opposes any move to legalize drugs, legalization continues to be widely discussed and written about. As a result, many law enforcement officials and representatives of grassroots substance abuse prevention organizations receive invitations to discuss or debate this issue publicly. The DEA provides training and carefully documented anti-legalization materials to help people understand this complex issue.
Law Enforcement Training:
The Demand Reduction Program is always searching for ways to multiply its efforts throughout the law enforcement community. For example, in a growing number of states, Demand Reduction Coordinators are conducting seminars to train police officers to recognize their role and responsibility in reducing the demand for drugs, including Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) officers.
The DEA strongly supports well-designed national youth programs such as DARE, which places DEA-trained police officers in the classroom to teach children how to stay drug-free. The DEA is also an active partner in the Law Enforcement Explorer program for the Boy Scouts of America, providing structure and direction for youths with an interest in law enforcement careers. In another example, the DEA sponsors Network3, a program for minority and high-risk youth that provides wholesome activities as alternatives to drugs.
Drugs in the Workplace:
Training programs that acquaint employers and work supervisors with the threat of drugs in the workplace are a staple of this DEA program. To accomplish this goal, half-day and full-day training conferences are held throughout the nation, often with sponsorship from a local organization, such as a manufacturers association or chamber of commerce.
Sports Drug Awareness:
DEA's Demand Reduction Program started with sports, but its focus has broadened with each passing year. Nevertheless, sports remain a core interest. For example, the Demand Reduction Section works closely with the National High School Athletic Coaches Association, the National Federation of State High School Associations, and the National Collegiate Athletic Association in training coaches for prevention leadership roles in their schools.
DEA works closely with many communities across America in mounting broad-gauge, citywide coalitions against illegal drugs, stressing the need for active involvement by all segments of the community. DEA has aided the founding of coalitions in Los Angeles, Dallas, Richmond, and other cities.
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