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Major Studies of Drugs and Drug Policy
Dealing With Drug Abuse

Dealing with Drug Abuse

A Report to the Ford Foundation



In April, 1970, the Ford Foundation asked us to undertake a broad survey of the drug-abuse problem in this country and to report back by the end of the year on what activities private foundations might usefully undertake in this field. During May to December, 1970, we had the opportunity to review the drug-abuse field, both through a study of the literature and through extensive interviews. The report was completed by December 1, 1970, and submitted to several foundations for their consideration.

We did not anticipate making any startling new discoveries in this field, and, in fact, we have made none. We cannot say that there is a magic solution to the problem of drug abuse. Rapid or remarkable results in this area cannot be promised. Alleviation of local and national drug-abuse problems will come, in our judgment, through a slow and painful process of social change and accommodation. Insofar as our report can help to establish the mechanisms by which such change and accommodation may begin, and even be accelerated, it will have more than served its intended purpose.

The report is reproduced here without change. Although we have added occasional footnotes to indicate significant developments since December, 1970, we have concluded that any attempt to take note of every factual change would be both futile and unnecessary. Suffice it to say that developments during the past year have only underscored the thrust of the original report.

Appendixes to the main report were developed largely by the project staff both during 1970 and after the report itself was completed and submitted to the foundations, in order to record some of the more detailed information gathered in the course of the survey. These staff papers may be considered current as of about September, 1971. Although they do not always represent a consensus of the project participants, they do make a useful contribution to knowledge and discussion in the field.

It is not possible to name all of those to whom we are indebted for assistance with the survey and the report. We spoke to hundreds of people throughout the country, all of whom generously provided time and material. The trustees, officers, and staff of the Ford Foundation provided complete freedom for this inquiry, together with ample financial support. We are especially indebted to Mitchell Sviridoff and Thomas Wright for their personal involvement. The Carnegie Corporation, the Commonwealth Fund, and the Kaiser Foundation have been most encouraging in their consideration of the report, as have numerous other foundations and organizations.

We could not have undertaken the work involved in this survey or completed the report without the strong support of James V. DeLong, the only professional staff member who worked on the project from beginning to end. His tenacity in ferreting out the types of elusive facts on which any useful report must inevitably rely, and his detailed and repeated review of the work product have won him the respect of the entire drug-abuse field. We would also like to give special thanks to Peter Wilson, who was with the project during the first hectic period.

Substantial support in the form of time and resources was freely donated by the Washington law firm of Covington & Burling. We also wish to thank the support staff-Meg Gleason, Jacqueline Volpe, Angela Corley, Joan Henderson, Janine Yunker, and Lilly Smith-for their skill and patience in finding and keeping track of material and in preparing and revising endless drafts.

Finally, we are gratified by the announcement that the Drug Abuse Council proposed in the report has been established and is beginning operations. We wish its new President, Thomas E. Bryant, M.D., and the Chairman of its Board, Bethuel M. Webster, success in bringing this new venture to fruition.




Washington, D.C.

December, 1971


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