Nancy Reagan’s Lasting Legacy: Just Say No

For almost a week, the death of Nancy Reagan has been the number one story in the media. When hearing about her and what she had accomplished during her time as the First Lady of the United States, we are reminded that she coined the well-known phrase “Just Say No.”

In 1980, Nancy told reporters that one of her main goals, if her husband became president, was to educate our nation’s youth on drugs and drug abuse. The following year, she announced that, in her role of First Lady, she would make it her mission to bring awareness to the dangers of drug abuse. In the announcement she stated, "Understanding what drugs can do to your children, understanding peer pressure and understanding why they turn to drugs is...the first step in solving the problem."

Later, in 1982, Nancy visited an elementary school in California to talk about her cause and how that helping just one person is all that we need to do to combat this problem. During her visit, a student asked, “What do I say when someone asks if I want to take Drugs?” Nancy replied, “Just say no.”

In that moment, the famous phrase “Just Say No” was coined and immediately became associated with the First Lady’s mission.

By 1985, Nancy was speaking about this topic in the U.S. and abroad. In fact, there was a children’s television program in the United Kingdom that was on air in 1986 that had a storyline about heroin addiction.

Despite all of her efforts, many critics of Nancy Reagan critics felt that her message was too simple. And, although there was a small change in the use of drugs due to her message, it was not significant enough to continue.

Fast forward to present day, and heroin deaths alone have quadrupled since 2002. So, if you think about it, Nancy Reagan was making headway! The phrase – and its campaign – was still having an impact on society, even if it was slow and in small amounts.

Remember, the old saying goes, “Slow and steady wins the race!”

Like Nancy Reagan, the mission of Busy Living Sober is to change the way society views addiction. We too believe that we can help make a difference one person at a time.