Obama administration will treat drug use as a disease

The Obama administration now considers drug use is a disease of the brain that can be prevented and treated. That is the basis of a new strategy released Tuesday.

The announcement comes at a time when many Latin leaders are considering the same approach.

According to a release from the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the new strategy is guided by three facts: addiction is a disease that can be treated; people with substance use disorders can recover; and innovative new criminal justice reforms can stop the revolving door of drug use, crime, incarceration, and rearrest.

Among other Obama administration initiatives with drugs, the president’s health care reform requires insurers to cover treatment for substance use disorders the same way they would other chronic diseases, starting in 2014.
“Outdated policies like the mass incarceration of nonviolent drug offenders are relics of the past that ignore the need for a balanced public health and safety approach to our drug problem,” said Gil Kerlikowske. “The policy alternatives contained in our new strategy support mainstream reforms based on the proven facts that drug addiction is a disease of the brain that can be prevented and treated and that we cannot simply arrest our way out of the drug problem.”

He is director of National Drug Control Policy.

The administration release said that illicit drug use today is roughly one third the rate it was in the late 1970s. There has been a 40 percent drop in cocaine use and meth use has dropped by half, it said.

The Obama Administration has requested over $10 billion to support drug education programs and support for expanding access to drug treatment for people suffering from substance use disorders.

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