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Addressing Drug Use and Its Consequences in the Latino Community

Director Kerlikowske and Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard meet with the Latino Community in Los Angeles

Today, I had the privilege to join California Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard to discuss our Nation’s drug problem and explore ways we can work together to improve public health and safety in the Los Angeles area.

Drug abuse affects every demographic group in America.  However, data show in some ways, it disproportionately affects Latino communities. In fact, between 2008 and 2009, we saw a 39 percent increase in drug use among male Latino teens.  Additionally, another recent poll found that Hispanic parents now ranked drug abuse as the number-one health issue facing children in their communities.

During my visit I stressed how important prevention can be.  This is where parents and adult influencers can play a critical role in raising healthy children.  Research continues to show the most powerful force in the lives of young people are their parents, and the Obama Administration stands ready to provide families with the tools they need to protect young people.  We’ve even put together Spanish language material at with tips on how to talk to teens and science-based information on drug use and its consequences.

I thoroughly enjoyed meeting with L.A. Latino community members today, and I look forward to continuing our work together to reduce the burden of drug use on Latino communities.

 R. Gil Kerlikowske is Director of National Drug Control Policy