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The EFFECTIVE NATIONAL DRUG CONTROL STRATEGY 1999

GOAL NUMBER ONE: REDUCE THE HARM CAUSED BY DRUGS IN OUR SOCIETY

OBJECTIVE: REDUCE DRUG ABUSE AND USE AMONG ALL AMERICANS

Rationale: Simple common sense tells us that government spending to reduce alcohol and other drug use should focus on the most effective tactics. Unfortunately, years of politicization and the creation of numerous bureaucracies which derive funding from drug control spending have diverted our drug control budgets away from effective tactics and toward entrenched bureaucratic interests.

The ONDCP's 1999 drug control budget is a prime example of the misuse of public money. The RAND Corporation's thorough and scientific examination into the costs and benefits of treatment, interdiction, eradication and prison building has shown that investing additional resources in treatment is the most effective strategy to curtail drug use and abuse, yet the ONDCP's budget still focuses 2/3 of its budget on law enforcement and other ineffective tactics.

According to RAND's widely respected study, for each additional dollar spent on cocaine treatment, a social benefit of reduced cocaine consumption, crime and increased productivity valued at $7.46 is received, while each additional dollar spent on eradicating coca overseas represents a loss of eighty-five cents.48 Amazingly, the Drug Czar's office is requesting $4.6 billion for source-country eradication and interdiction in 1999 (Goals 4 and 5), and plans annual spending increases in these areas over the next four years.49 Total spending on this approach would reach $23 billion between 1999 and 2003. Given the choice of investing one dollar in a bank that will give us 15 cents at year's end or one that will give us over 7 dollars, the government has opted for the 15 cents. By continuing this waste, the government is failing to help those in need of treatment and failing to reduce the consumption of drugs in our communities.

Recommendation 1: Provide drug treatment upon request and a variety of treatment options.

Fact With so much talk by Congress and the White House about the damage that drugs cause our society, one would think our drug-treatment facilities were wide-open, and eagerly awaiting patients who have finally heeded the calls of our government to break their addiction. Not so. An addict can wait many months between a request for treatment and the availability of a treatment slot. A policy that chooses to provide prison cells rather than treatment beds makes a mockery of its claims to have a strategy to decrease drug use in America.

The provision for treatment upon request has been Federal law since 1988. Section 2012 of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 sets out the purpose of the law, which is:

To increase to the greatest extent possible the availability and quality of treatment services so that treatment on request may be provided to all individuals desiring to rid themselves of their substance abuse problem.50 
Yet, the 1998 National Drug Control Strategy, which provides a 10-year plan for US national drug strategy, makes no provision for making treatment-on-request a reality. The President, the Congress, researchers and drug abuse professionals all agree treatment on request should be made available, yet the ONDCP has not even mentioned it as a goal.

Furthermore, treatment options need to be expanded to address the variety of needs persons with drug problems have. Some people will respond quite readily to abstinence-based programs like Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous. Others will require methadone therapy to stave off the symptoms of opiate addiction, or a gradual weaning from their addiction through doctor-supervised maintenance programs. For more specific recommendations of treatment options, please see the section entitled, “Allow Doctors Greater Freedom to Address Public Health Issues.”

Recommendation 2: Enact legislation that provides full continuum insurance coverage for substance abuse treatment.

If our society is truly serious about reducing drug use, then we must make every effort to move those people who wish to be treated for drug addiction into treatment facilities. One of the most effective means to do so is to provide “full continuum” insurance for substance abuse. As stated in a report commissioned by the Connecticut State Legislature, this would “include screening, assessment, intervention, detoxification, short-term and long-term inpatient rehabilitation, outpatient and intensive outpatient services, family treatment, and methadone maintenance treatment.”51 This was also the goal of legislation introduced in the 105th Congress.52 By providing addiction treatment through medical insurance, we reduce the need for people to rely on public funding and facilities to treat substance abuse problems.

Recommendation 3: Reduce children's exposure to cigarette and alcohol advertising.

One of the main goals of advertising is to create demand for a product, industry or idea. As two of the largest sources of illness and death in America, it is not beneficial to glamorize or promote cigarettes and alcohol to young children. An effective drug control strategy would examine ways to reduce children's exposure to such marketing, perhaps by limiting alcohol ads to television programs which are rated for adult content. The marketing of addictive products to children must be addressed, while balancing the commercial speech rights of legal businesses to market their products or educate the public on policy issues related to their industry.


48 Rydell & Everingham. Controlling Cocaine: Supply Versus Demand Programs, RAND Corporation (Santa Monica, CA: 1994), p. xvi).
49 ONDCP, The National Drug Control Strategy, 1998, p. 59.
50 The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988. Public Law 100-690. (1988, November 18).
51 Drug Policy in Connecticut and Strategy Options: Report to the Judiciary Committee of the Connecticut General Assembley. (1997, January 21). Connecticut Law Revision Commission.
52  The Moynihan-Levin Anti-Addiction and Drug Treatment Access Act of 1998.


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