Remembering Nancy Reagan and Her Fight Against Drugs in America

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library have just confirmed the death of Former First lady — Nancy Reagan — on March 6, 2016. The devoted mother and wife will always be remembered as a ”worthy ambassador for our country as First Lady” and let’s not forget her change-bearing fight against America’s “War on Drugs” with her “Just Say No” Campaign in 1982.

Nancy Reagan first became involved with the “Just Say No” campaign in 1980 when she became intrigued with the educating youth on drug use and abuse through prevention programs, drug rehab centers, the media and more.

The phrase “Just Say No” emerged when Nancy visited Longfellow Elementary School in Oakland — near San Francisco, California — in 1982 when a young girl approach Nancy and asked her what to say when offered drugs. From then on the phrase “Just Say No” became the go-to phrase throughout schools and anti-drug programs around the country.

Nancy Reagan put all her efforts and passion into fighting the drug war from San Francisco the East Coast and was happy to do so, once stating, “If you can save just one child, it’s worth it.”

The first lady would travel from San Francisco across the nation to visit drug rehab centers and abuse prevention programs, along with making television appearances, recording public service announcements and reaching out through other forms of media attention.

In 1985, she took the “Just Say No” phrase from a simple answer to a San Francisco schoolgirl’s question to an international movement when she invited 30 First ladies of various countries to the Nation’s White House for a conference known as the “First Ladies Conference of Drug Abuse.”

While Nancy Reagan’s tremendous efforts to bring awareness to youth through drug rehab centers and prevention programs are difficult to measure in terms of success, however, the overall use and abuse of illegal drugs did significantly decline during Reagan’s presidency.

According to research, fewer young people throughout the 1980’s — the time of the campaign — were using illicit drugs. More specifically, the amount of high school seniors using cannabis dropped from 50.1 percent to 36 percent in a span of 9 years.

While the campaign aimed to educate the youth of drug use and abuse through drug rehab centers, drug prevention programs throughout the country, it did receive some criticism, arguing that the solution was reduced to a catch phrase.

Regardless of the critiques, Nancy Reagan dedicated her life and responsibility as the First Lady to fighting the War on Drugs in America. The country grieves for her death but will never forget the impact she had on this country and in so many people’s lives.

Alyssa Koenig is a health writer for Fusion 360, an SEO and content marketing agency. Information provided by Miramar Drug and Alcohol Rehab Centers. Follow on Twitter.