News Brief
Drug Czar, White House and Faith Communities unite against teen drug use

Washington, D.C. - "Faith. The Anti-Drug." That is the slogan of the multi-denominational effort of the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy as it enlists churches, temples and mosques into the war on drugs.

Director of National Drug Control Policy John P. Walters said, "Faith plays an important role when it comes to teen marijuana prevention. We are urging youth ministers, volunteers and faith leaders to integrate drug prevention messages and activities into their sermons and youth programming and are providing them with key tools and resources to make a difference. Faith communities can help influence a teen’s decision not to use marijuana and other drugs."

Studies reveal that faith plays a critical role in preventing risky behavior, including substance abuse. The American Psychological Association published a study in March 2003 which showed that teens who held religion as a meaningful part of their life and as a way to cope with problems were half as likely to use drugs as those who did not consider religion to be important.

"Religion plays a major role in the lives of American teens," said Jim Towey, Director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. "According to data from Monitoring the Future, 90 percent of teens in the U.S. are affiliated with a religious denomination and 43 percent of eighth graders attend religious services weekly." Towey said that religious institutions are positioned to be effective in cultivating anti-drug values and teaching young people to deal with negative peer pressure.

On July 10, 2003, a joint press conference was held by the Nation’s Drug Czar, John P. Walters; Jim Towey, Director of the White House Office on Faith-Based and Community Intiatives; Dr. Sayyid Muhammed Syeed, Secretary-General of the Islamic Society of North America; Rabbi Eric Lankin, Director of Religious & Educational Activities, United Jewish Communities; Brenda Girton-Mitchell, Associate General Secretary for Public Policy, National Council of Churches USA; and other representatives from the faith and drug prevention communities.

The joint venture will offer multi-denominational, multi-media resources to churches, mosques and synagogues, providing guidance on a range of issues from how to incorporate drug prevention into sermons, to how to integrate ready-to-use teen drug prevention activities into youth ministries and religious education classes.