By DEB RIECHMANN - Associated Press Writer
CRAWFORD, Texas(AP) President Bush is asking Congress to work with his administration to end illegal sales of highly addictive prescription drugs on the Internet to stem a rising number of people dying of overdoses.
Bush used his weekly radio address to highlight his administration's 2008 national drug control strategy, which the White House is releasing Saturday.
The president said that while an estimated 860,000 fewer young people are using drugs today than in 2001, the abuse of prescription drugs is a growing problem.
"Unfortunately, many young Americans do not understand how dangerous abusing medication can be, and in recent years, the number of Americans who have died from prescription drug overdoses has increased," Bush said.
One factor behind the trend is the availability of highly addictive prescription drugs on the Internet, he said.
"The Internet has brought about tremendous benefits for those who cannot easily get to a pharmacy in person," Bush said. "However, it has also created an opportunity for unscrupulous doctors and pharmacists to profit from addiction."
Bush, who is spending the weekend at his Texas ranch with the prime minister of Denmark, said that since 2001, the rate of youth drug abuse has dropped by 24 percent. He said young people's use of marijuana is down by 25 percent; their use of ecstasy has dropped by more than 50 percent; and their use of methamphetamine has declined by 64 percent.
Bush also called on entertainers and professional athletes to serve as role models for young people.
"People in the entertainment and sports industries serve as role models to millions of young Americans, and that comes with the responsibility to dispel the notion that drug abuse is glamorous and free of consequences," he said. "Teachers, pastors and parents also have an obligation to help young people develop the character and self-respect to resist drugs."