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The Drug Czar

Updated: Jan 5, 2023

I was a teenager in the 80s for most of Ronald Reagan’s presidency. It was the first time I was “old enough” to care about what was going on politically at a national level. Well, at any level really, but certainly at the federal level. Reagan’s wife, Nancy, had the political/ social message that I have the most vivid memory of: “Just say no.”

It literally became my generation’s response to some overwhelming issues that included the crack cocaine epidemic, the AIDS scare, and so many more. For many of us who were teens then, it was the first time a government program became real and relevant to our lives.

TV commercial and public announcement spots that showed an egg with a voice over saying "this is your brain". In the next frame, an egg frying in a pan with that same voice over saying "this is your brain on drugs.” I had a round button on my varsity jacket at my high school that had DRUGS with a red line running through it. I signed pledges to have a drug free prom, and promised my mother and every other mother in the community that I would not drink and drive.

I also remember a phrase that I had never heard before, outside of a boring world history class, coming into popular culture. I remember that we had, as a nation and for the first time, a Drug Czar.

Don’t hear me as misinformed, there was someone in the office of the federal government overseeing “drugs” long before 1980. But in my memory, Vice President George HW Bush was the Drug Czar. Bush, as part of the Reagan drug agenda, had started the Vice President's National Narcotics Border Interdiction System. We were saying no to drugs BEFORE they even got here!

Lest this become political in a climate where that is the last thing any of us need, let me just tell you that we’ve had what insiders in Washington refer to as a Drug Czar during every administration regardless of party, since Reagan.

To my knowledge, Iredell County does not have a drug czar. Yet.

Don’t get me wrong; we have capable, talented, and dedicated law enforcement fighting the drug battle every day. We have a wonderful team of EMS professionals interceding in the drug war all the time. There is not a “but” in those sentences, these professionals are GREAT!

But we need a drug czar!

I am Shane Nixon. Since April 2022, I’ve been the leader of DACI, the Drug and Alcohol Coalition of Iredell County. We want to be YOUR Drug Czar. We want to be the one number people call for all matters substance misuse. We want to be the one resource that works with all the other resources and coordinates those efforts. DACI wants to be the Iredell County Drug Czar.

I’m not even positive what that means, at least not entirely. But I know this: we’ve got a problem here in Iredell County: a drug (and alcohol) misuse problem. And I know this: DACI is positioning itself to help solve that problem.

In truth we will likely never fully eradicate the drug problem here, nationally or locally. Nancy Reagan didn’t and she had a larger platform, more resources, and a president for a husband. But what we learned from Reagan was that if you are going to fight a war on drugs, someone has to fire the first shot.

And that is what the Drug Czar does.

DACI is ready to lead Iredell County's march to victory over substance misuse, and we need YOU to join our ranks in this fight.


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