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    Columba Bush says daughter sparked advocacy

    Florida's first lady says she speaks out against drug abuse because of her daughter's fight against drugs.

    ©Associated Press
    October 24, 2002


    FORT LAUDERDALE -- Columba Bush said Wednesday that her daughter's battle with drugs compelled her decision years ago to speak out against illegal drug use.

    Bush, the wife of Florida's governor, spoke to hundreds of students gathered at War Memorial Auditorium for the Broward County Commission's drug summit. The event coincided with Red Ribbon Week, a national campaign that evolved from the 1985 murder of undercover agent Enrique Camarena by drug traffickers.

    Bush told the media that parents should not take their children's welfare for granted.

    "Never be overconfident," Bush said. "That was my big mistake."

    Bush said after the event that she has campaigned for drug prevention for the past eight years. When asked what sparked her involvement, she replied, "My daughter."

    Noelle Bush, 25, is serving a 10-day sentence for carrying a piece of crack cocaine in her shoe while at a drug rehabilitation center. Bush was being treated at the center after her arrest in January for trying to obtain an antianxiety medication with a fake prescription.

    Columba Bush called drug abuse"deadly." She praised the efforts of her husband, Gov. Jeb Bush , to combat the problem.

    A national survey released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration shows that white substance abusers who admitted needing treatment received help more than blacks and Hispanics. Florida is included in that trend.

    Florida's top drug control official, Jim McDonough said the state is working aggressively to reach under-served groups.

    Columba Bush and the governor visited their daughter in prison Tuesday.

    While at a veterans' rally in Orlando Wednesday, Gov. Bush replied briefly to questions about his daughter.

    "She's accepting her situation. You know that I went, and dads should provide support for their children," he said.

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