By William J. Bryan
Assistant National Director
First and foremost, the directors of the Elks Drug Awareness Program, their families, the State Chairpersons and their families wish a very happy holiday season to all Elks and their families. COVID-19 prevented many of us from being with you personally, but it did not prevent us from communicating with many of you. We look forward to a time when we can safely gather to thank you all for making your communities better and safer.
Here are a few things to remind you that COVID-19 did not stop the work of the DAP or the need to continually remind our youth of the dangers of illicit drugs:
• In an age when the speed of information can often outpace the speed of verification, the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that it is crucial to cut through the noise and focus on facts, a lesson that we must heed in order to protect our communities from the impact of drugs. We do this through a variety of Elks websites to include: elkskidszone.org, elksteenzone.org and our new elksdap.org. Our national spokesperson, Ray Lozano, has been conducting webinars all over the country. National speaker Heather DiBlasi is available for Elementary Schools.
• Drug traffickers have quickly recovered from the initial setback caused by lockdown restrictions and are operating at pre-pandemic levels once again. Access to drugs has also become simpler than ever with online sales, and major drug markets on the dark web are now worth some $315 million annually. Contactless drug transactions, such as through the mail, are also on the rise, a trend possibly accelerated by the pandemic. We encourage all Elks who are concerned about this to visit dea.gov for more information.
• Communicating facts about drugs and promoting science-based interventions are an absolute necessity if we are to reduce demand and supply of drugs, while also facilitating access to controlled medicines for those in need. It is also the surest path to eliminating stigmatization and discrimination and providing adequate treatment, as seven in eight people who suffer from drug use disorders remain without appropriate care. While the Elks DAP is committed to informing youth of the dangers of illicit drugs and the abuse of other substances, we support communities that provide treatment and offer hope to those afflicted.
Entering the new year, the Elks DAP is committed to providing Exalted Rulers with an opportunity to lead their communities towards a drug-free society. We wish you all the blessings of the season and a very happy and prosperous 2022.