White House Unveils 2011 Drug Control Strategy

By Dirk Hanson 07/12/11

As expected, the emphasis is on prescription drug abuse among college students and in the military.

Balancing treatment and head-busting.
Photo via whitehousedrugpolicy

The White House today unveiled its official 2011 National Drug Control Strategy, which calls for stepped-up enforcement of prescription drug abuse, particularly among “high-risk groups” such as veterans and college students. The new plan also includes an increasing emphasis on the special needs of women in treatment, according to director Gil Kerlikowske. ‘Treatment is about half the cost of incarceration,’ Kerlikowske said in an interview with Bloomberg, ‘so we think that in many ways, that makes a lot of sense.’”

According to the Office of National Drug Control Strategy (ONDCP), the agency headed by Drug Czar Kerlikowske, “cocaine abuse has fallen 46 percent over the last five years among young adults aged 18 to 25. Prescription drug abuse hasn’t seen the same decline.” Kerlikowske said the ONDCP will focus on the estimated 375,000 veterans who were diagnosed with a substance abuse disorder in 2007. He claimed the current federal budget of $26 billion for drug abuse is split about evenly between enforcement and treatment. The report says that drug-induced deaths “now outnumber gunshot deaths in America. In 17 states and the District of Columbia, drug-induced deaths now exceed motor vehicle crashes as the leading cause of injury death.” The complete report can be downloaded here.

The “action items” in the report appendix are mostly harmless platitudes—but almost all of the suggestions would be highly useful, if they were ever acted upon. Here is a sampling:

  • Addiction Treatment Must Be an Integrated, Accessible Part of Mainstream Health Care
  • Break the Cycle of Drug Use, Crime, Delinquency, and Incarceration
  • Seek Early Intervention Opportunities in Health Care
  • Provide Communities with the Capacity to Prevent Drug-Related Crimes
  • Strengthen International Partnerships
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Dirk Hanson, MA, is a freelance science writer and the author of The Chemical Carousel: What Science Tells Us About Beating Addiction. He is also the author of The New Alchemists: Silicon Valley and the Microelectronics Revolution. He has worked as a business and science reporter for numerous magazines and trade publications including Wired, Scientific American, The Dana Foundation and more. He currently edits the Addiction Inbox blog. Email: [email protected]