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FEDERAL CZAR SAYS STRATEGIES PAYING OFF IN WAR ON DRUGS

A war waged on drug use through "supply and demand control strategies" is paying off. More than 2 million Americans have stopped using illicit drugs since 1989. But 12 million still abuse drugs, according to the nation's leading anti-drug official.

"It's hard to see the progress when you're in the eye of a tornado," Bob Martinez, director of National Drug Control Policy, said Friday morning. "It is clear we are winning - taking back the community and the neighborhood block by block."Martinez was in Salt Lake City to address students at the Utah Federation for Drug Free Youth life skills conference at the Salt Palace. An estimated 10,000 Utah youths attended the three-day conference, which ends Saturday.

Martinez said overall drug use dropped 13 percent from 1989 to 1991. The number of people who had used cocaine in the past month dropped by 35 percent in that time period. Drug use among youths 12-17 dropped by one-fourth. Use of cocaine by youths fell by more than 60 percent.

"Is it time to declare victory and leave the battlefield? No!" the former governor of Florida said.

Martinez said the president's drug-prevention strategy targets two areas: the "casual" drug user and older, "hardcore" drug users.

"Don't let anyone tell you casual drug use is harmless. Those who start had better be prepared for the battle of their lives when they're ready to get off drugs," he said. "It's not like losing weight. I've talked to literally hundreds of addicts in treatment and they stay recovered literally one day at a time for the rest of their lives. The key, of course, is never to start using drugs in the first place."

Just under half of the 12 million Americans who use drugs are addicted, he said. All started out as casual drug users.

Working with older, hardcore addicts will be "considerably tougher." Many of them have already had major problems, including run-ins with the law. "That war will be hard to win but we intend to win it.

Alcohol is the substance most abused by adolescents and as many as half have at least had a drink.

"Communities must be at the heart of effective action," Martinez said. "Parents must deliver a clear message that alcohol is harmful. We must deglamorize alcohol.

"We can continue to develop strong intolerance and drug use will continue to decline," he said.