Since its founding in 1977, National Families in Action (NFIA) has worked to protect children from alcohol, tobacco, and other addictive drugs. The organization’s mission is to protect children from addictive drugs by shining a light on science and on industry marketing practices that target children because a certain percent will become addicted and lifelong customers. NFIA has carried out its mission with several important projects.
From the late 1970s to the early 1990s, it helped lead a national Parent Movement to help parents protect children from a drug culture that encouraged and glamorized drug use. This movement is credited with reducing past-month drug use among adolescents and young adults by two-thirds and daily marijuana use among 12th grade students by 500 percent between 1979 and 1992.
With two grants from the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention in the 1990s, NFIA took the parent movement to parents living in Atlanta public-housing communities via Inner-City Families in Action and to their middle-school children via Club HERO (Helping Everyone Reach Out).
From 1999 to 2011, NFIA partnered with Wake Forest University School of Medicine to conduct the Addiction Studies Program for Journalists. The program’s goal was to provide those who shape public opinion with an understanding of the science that underlies drug use, abuse, and addiction in order to help journalists report the drug story with scientific accuracy. This program trained more than 500 print, broadcast, and electronic journalists.
In 2005, the founders added two additional partners, the National Conference of State Legislatures and the Treatment Research Institute, to create the Addiction Studies Program for the States. This program helped state governments improve their drug policies based on science. By the time it concluded in 2014, it had trained teams from nearly all states. Both programs were funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Between 2003 and 2007, National Families in Action implemented a $4.2 million grant from Congress through the Corporation for National and Community Service to create and conduct a pilot program of the Parent Corps at 19 schools in 9 states. From each school, NFIA recruited, trained, and employed a Parent Leader whose job was to educate and mobilize the school’s parents into drug prevention. Principals report these results: communications with parents doubled and student attendance and grades increased, while discipline problems and drop-out rates decreased.
The pilot program ended in 2007 but continued in Georgia with funding from the Imlay Foundation, Newman’s Own Foundation, the Sembler Company, and others for three additional years. Congressman John Lewis has introduced The National Parents Corps Act to make the Parent Corps a permanent institution in every new Congress since 2007.
In 2010, with support from Newman’s Own Foundation, the organization began But What about the Children? This educational effort seeks to help policymakers find ways to protect children from a legal, commercial marijuana industry that will market the drug to them, like the alcohol and tobacco industries do. NFIA anticipated what actually happened in 2012 when Colorado and Washington legalized marijuana. In May 2013, with a grant from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, NFIA hosted a marijuana workshop for leaders from Colorado, Washington State, and other states facing legalization. The workshop, keynoted by President Jimmy Carter, sought to help legalization states develop regulations to protect children from commercial marijuana and other states to seek marijuana policies that chart a middle road between incarceration and legalization.
An outgrowth of the workshop was the creation of The Marijuana Report.Org, a website that tracks the marijuana story as reported in the print and broadcast press, and The Marijuana Report, a weekly e-newsletter that goes out to 10,000 subscribers and features the most important stories posted to the website the previous week. The mission of our marijuana education work is to help leaders make informed decisions about marijuana policy, whether they be politicians who make public policy, business leaders who make company policy, educators who make school policy, volunteer leaders who make community policy, or parent leaders who make family policy.
Throughout the course of its work, NFIA has amassed a Drug Information Collection containing several hundred thousand documents that trace the evolution of the drug legalization and drug prevention movements in the United States from the 1970s to the present. We hope to locate the collection at an academic library so that it can be digitized and made available for scholars to study the history of drug use, abuse, and addiction in America since the 1970s.
National Families in Action Board of Directors
William F. Carter, Chairman of the Board
Realtor, Berkshire Hathaway Homes Services
Sue Rusche, President & CEO
National Families in Action
Richard L. Brown, Secretary
Executive Director, Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association
Marcie Beskind, Treasurer
Director of Finance and Administration, Frazer Center
Jeannine F. Addams, Director
President and CEO, J. Addams & Partners, Inc. Public Relations
William H. Avery, Director
Partner (Ret.), Alston & Bird LLP
Garry Guan, Director
President, A-A Language Services, Inc.
Robert Margolis, PhD
Licensed Clinical Psychologist (Ret.)
Senior Advisor to National Families in Action
Kent “Oz” Nelson,
Chairman and CEO (Ret.), United Parcel Service