Sue Rusche (now retired) co-founded and served as president and CEO of National Families in Action (NFIA). NFIA helped lead the original national parent movement credited with reducing past-month illicit drug use by two-thirds among adolescents and young adults between 1979 and 1992. In the 80s, Ms. Rusche also wrote a twice-weekly column on drug use and addiction that was syndicated by King Features to more than 100 newspapers nationwide.
NFIA and Wake Forest University School of Medicine created the Addiction Studies Program which ran from 1999 through 2014. Funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the program conducted workshops for those who shape public opinion (journalists) and public policy (state executives and legislators) to provide an understanding of the science that underlies addiction, prevention, and treatment.
NFIA obtained a $5 million grant in 2003 to create the Parent Corps and implement a pilot program of it. The Parent Corps recruited, trained, and paid salaries and benefits to two Parent Leaders in their child’s school to mobilize other parents into drug prevention. The pilot program ran for four years at 19 schools in 9 states, recruited 8,000 parents into the Parent Corps and, when the kids asked, “What about us?” created the Youth Corps and recruited 6,000 students into it. Results: attendance, grades, and positive communications from parents increased; discipline problems and school drop-outs decreased.
NFIA has tracked the drug prevention and drug legalization movement since its founding in 1977. Our But What about the Children? Campaign developed 12 provisions that any law legalizing marijuana should include to prevent a commercial marijuana industry from targeting underage children, like the tobacco and alcohol industries do.
In May 2013, NFIA hosted a workshop, keynoted by former President Jimmy Carter, for leaders from Colorado and Washington to help them devise regulations to protect kids from a legal, commercial marijuana industry. The workshop resulted in the creation of The Marijuana Report.Org, a website that tracks the marijuana story unfolding across the nation. Ms. Rusche wrote The Marijuana Report e-newsletter weekly between 2014 and 2022, which went to 15,000 subscribers.
In 2018, NFIA formed a Science Advisory Board on which sit world-renowned scientists in the addiction field. NFIA recorded podcasts with each scientist in a series called “What Should I Know about Marijuana?” Thousands have been downloaded since their release in 2019-2020.
NFIA will come to a formal close January 31, 2023, at which time our Drug Information Collection spanning 45 years and covering the parent movement, the prevention movement, and the drug legalization movement, which drove both, will be moved to the University of California, San Francisco Library Archive and Special Collections where it will be digitized and made available to the public. UCSF holds the tobacco industry and tobacco control documents and is collecting the documents from the opioid trials currently taking place in courtrooms across the country.
Mr. Rusche is the author with David Friedman of False Messengers: How Addictive Drugs Change the Brain (1999). She is currently writing a book titled Biological Capture: How Companies that Make Addictive Drugs Get Us to Keep Buying Them.