Promoting Drug Policy in Health Reform

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) could have a transformative impact on drug policy. The ACA recognizes addiction as a health problem and presents a unique opportunity to advance efforts to reduce the reliance on criminal justice solutions that have become so prevalent under the war on drugs. Under the ACA, public and private insurance plans must provide healthcare services for addiction, just as they would for diabetes or cancer, impacting an estimated 60 million people. Instead of using the criminal justice system to address drug use and addiction, we can provide care to people in the community and bypass the "lock 'em up" approach altogether. In New York, DPA is working to leverage this seismic shift in health policy to reframe the debate on drugs and advance meaningful reforms statewide as well as within individual municipalities. For the first time, the nation can approach addiction as a health issue and end the war on drugs.