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American Cities Against Drugs
Mayors Who Have Signed The Atlanta Resolution
Form for New Mayors To Sign The Atlanta Resolution


Be It Resolved That:
We, the Mayors of the cities of the United States of America,

believe drug abuse is one of the most critical problems facing our cities, and that it is inextricably linked to crime and violence. Cutting across all cultural, racial, and economic lines, illicit drugs impair millions of Americans. Drug use and addiction contribute to the breakdown of our families, the abuse of adults and children, the spread of HIV/AIDS, school dropouts, and the declining quality of education, homelessness, urban decay, high health care costs, and low economic productivity that compromises our ability to compete in the global marketplace. We must reduce the number of people who use drugs and the number of people with the disease of addiction to significantly improve the most pressing domestic issues we face. Drug use is a preventable behavior and drug addiction is a treatable disease.

We, the nation's mayors, reject all proposals to legalize illicit drugs. This is not the answer to the drug problem in our cities. We reject legalization, and other simplistic forms such as decriminalization, because it is morally reprehensible to consider an action that would (a) simultaneously erode our children's anti-drug attitudes of perceived risk and social disapproval and (b) make harmful and addictive drugs far more accessible to far more people. We support the medical use of any drug that research proves is safe and effective under guidelines established by the Food and Drug Administration. While we support attempts to reduce harm, we believe that the way to decrease such problems is to prevent drug use from starting and to help those who are already in trouble with drugs.

Prevention works: We have achieved real progress in decreasing drug use and in understanding what works. Since 1979, dramatic increases in public attitudes of perceived risk and social disapproval toward illicit drugs produced a decline of nearly 50 percent in the number of first-time users and nonaddicted users through all segments of the population. Throughout the nation, drug prevention efforts came together at the community level -- in families, schools, the media, law enforcement, youth groups and workplaces -- to establish nonuse as the behavioral standard and social norm. This progress in prevention has also significantly reduced the number of people who would have become addicted.

However, diminishing resources and public focus now threaten future success. The gains so preciously earned in anti-drug attitudes and declining use are now threatened. Since the early 1990s there has been decreased attention to the drug issue and increased pro-drug and pro-legalization publicity. This has contributed to a reversal in the attitudes of perceived risk and social disapproval that distinguish nonusers from users, and significant increases in the number of young people using illicit drugs. Finally, and despite increasing evidence of the cost-effectiveness of drug treatment, we have made little progress in reducing the number of people already addicted. This reflects a current system that can treat only one-fifth of the estimated six million people in trouble with drugs.

We must provide significantly greater resources and leadership -- from governmental, corporate and nonprofit sectors at national, state and local levels -- for the demand-reduction efforts of prevention, intervention, treatment and research. Effective drug policy requires investment in both supply and demand reduction, but our nation is not providing enough funding for prevention or treatment. These are proven, cost-effective solutions for reducing both drug use and addiction and their impact on other critical domestic problems. Initial drug use is a matter of choice, and with sufficient resources, we can influence that choice positively. When addiction overtakes choice, we can treat addiction for those who require it. Our focus must combine efforts to reduce both the number of people who use and the number of people who are addicted to illicit drugs.

Preventing drug use by young people, and by all who influence them, must be the cornerstone of national, state and local drug strategies and resources if we are to build safe and healthy families and communities. We must reestablish and affirm the individual choice to remain drug-free. We must consistently reinforce the message that drug use is harmful and unacceptable. This message is vital to preventing drug experimentation and reducing drug use before it becomes addiction. We must effectively influence the decisions our young people make about illicit drugs by providing drug education at home and in school and by involving local law enforcement officers and judges, the faith community, health care professionals, the media, employers, and other community resources. Comprehensive community prevention programs significantly reduce adolescent drug use. We support the recently created National Drug Prevention League, designed to coordinate prevention efforts and to emphasize the need for prevention as the first priority in reducing substance abuse.

We must make treatment more available, more effective and more accessible if we are to reduce the impact of drugs in our cities. Treatment is critical to reducing the social pathology conveyed by those already addicted to drugs. Most acute is the lack of treatment for those who are least able to function or whose drug involvement has profound implications for themselves, their families, and society at large. People in the criminal-justice system, pregnant women, and women with children, the homeless, and those infected with HIV/AIDS face intolerable shortages of treatment slots. Early intervention in the drug abuse process, aimed especially at adolescents but including adults as well, decreases harm and increases rehabilitation.

Law enforcement must remain a strong component of, and be better linked to, demand reduction efforts. On the national, state, and especially the local level, law enforcement and the judicial system are critical to the success of preventing and treating drug abuse. We need to increase cooperation among law enforcement agencies and between law enforcement and prevention and treatment programs within the community.

Research is critical to understanding, replicating, and improving the effectiveness and cost efficiency of demand- reduction efforts.
Research, not ideology, must provide the foundation for drug policies and practices. More research is needed to improve our understanding of the ways that drugs affect the brain and change behavior, of the reasons for reversing drug attitudes and use trends, of the importance of family- and community-based prevention programs, and of why particular treatment approaches are more successful than others.

Worldwide cooperation in reducing illicit drug abuse will not only help the international community, but also will reduce the flow of drugs into our cities. The spread of illicit drugs throughout Europe and other parts of the world imperils our ability to reduce drug abuse in our cities. We support European Cities Against Drugs, which organized last year to fight the legalization movement abroad. Today, we announce the formation of American Cities Against Drugs to support our sister organization in Europe and similar organizations that may form throughout the world.

We believe that reducing drug abuse is essential to the most important things all Americans care about: our children and families, our safety, our neighborhoods and communities, our health, our economy, our freedom to grow and prosper, and our obligation as citizens to help each other build healthy families and communities. We must maintain our public will. We must elicit leadership from all segments of society, especially from individuals and communities. We must recognize that each of us has a role to play in the solution and all of us have a stake in the outcome. Drug abuse is a preventable behavior and drug addiction is a treatable disease. We, the Mayors of the cities of the United States of America, commit ourselves to reducing drug abuse by mobilizing our citizens and concentrating our resources to prevent this behavior and treat this disease.

The Atlanta Resolution was written by the 1995 American Cities Against Drugs National Advisory Committee under the leadership of Tom Hedrick, vice chairman of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America.


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