In saying that a set of 20 recommendations by law enforcement officials could "substantially eradicate" drug abuse in Utah by the turn of the century, U.S. Attorney Brent D. Ward may be claiming too much. But certainly, the proposals would make life more difficult for illegal users and sellers of drugs and alcohol.

The suggestions by the Utah Strategic Planning Committee for Law Enforcement, of which Ward is a member, would essentially provide more state money to enforce drug and teen alcohol laws, and give more support to education programs aimed at protecting youth.Those are worthy aims and deserving of support, yet drug and alcohol abuse are deep-seated problems. More education and more enforcement can surely help matters, but it is a long road to eradication.

The recommendations generally fall into four categories: (1) education, including information gathering and surveys of recovering drug and alcohol abusers to find out what works best, plus programs for schools and families; (2) tighter controls over rock concerts, beer keg parties, and purchase of chemicals used to manufacture some drugs, as well as punitive actions against the licenses of businesses that sell beer to minors; (3) tougher enforcement, such as suspending driving licenses of young drug abusers, and "zero tolerance" programs that target drug users as well as pushers, and (4) more money for state drug fighting programs.

All of those proposals have value. And if they fall short of a cure-all, at least they represent a vigorous attack on drug abuse. To do nothing, simply because the problem is so gigantic, would be to accept failure. The youth of this state are too valuable to let that happen.