Drug law enforcement efforts receive ample funding each year while drug treatment options remain shamefully underfunded. Many people who seek help for their problematic drug use are unable to access treatment, encountering insurance barriers, months-long wait lists, or programs that don't meet their needs. Far too many people are only able to access drug treatment as a result of an arrest or criminal conviction. DPA advocates expanding drug treatment access to meet need, as well as broadening the definition of drug treatment to include models of care that incorporate harm reduction principles and prioritize health, safety, and improving quality of life over strict abstinence. We are changing the national dialogue around treatment by raising awareness about proven drug treatment models, like heroin assisted treatment, that have been researched and employed successfully abroad but are still not available in the United States. Through these efforts, we are laying the foundation for more diverse and effective drug treatment options.
This report commissioned by the National Association of Social Workers calls for a public health approach to drug use and outlines the role social workers can play in shifting the current paradigm.
The Obama administration says that drug use should be treated as a health issue instead of a criminal justice issue. Yet both his budget and his drug policies continue to emphasize enforcement, prosecution and incarceration at home, and interdiction, eradication and military escalation abroad. Even what the government does spend on treatment and prevention is overstated, as many of its programs are wasteful and counterproductive.
Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, debates the war on drugs with Kevin Sabet, former senior advisor to the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), on CNN.
Amicus brief by Nation’s Leading Medical and Substance Abuse Treatment Providers Call Sentence Inhumane and Counterproductive and Urge Treatment Instead of Punishment for Inmates Suffering From Addiction
Cameron Douglas, the son of famed actor Michael Douglas, was sentenced in 2010 to five years behind bars for participating in drug distribution. Despite his long-time problem with drug addiction, Cameron was not given any drug treatment in prison. While behind bars, Mr. Douglas relapsed on drugs. He was caught with very small amounts of opioids for personal use, and as a result, the judge added another four-and-a-half years to his sentence. This may be the longest-ever federal prison sentence imposed for the simple possession drugs for personal use behind bars.
The Global Commission, whose members include Kofi Annan and four former presidents, calls the drug war a failure and advocates a paradigm shift in global drug policy. The commission's bold recommendations include encouraging governments to experiment with legalization of drugs, particularly marijuana; putting an end to drug policies being driven by ideology and politics; and directing resources away from arresting and incarcerating so many people for drug law violations.