Drug Treatment

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.

Our Priorities

A sad consequence of the drug war's neglect of drug treatment programs is that many people who want help are unable to access it, and those who do are often limited to an abstinence-only, 12-step model that works for some, but not everyone. 
Most of these treatment modalities fail to address the legal, financial, vocational, custodial, and psychosocial dimensions of life often adversely affected by problematic drug use, leaving the person seeking treatment empty-handed when it comes to addressing these issues.

Funding and research
The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) advocates for increased federal and state funding for drug treatment and research than can help determine which treatment models are the safest and most effective. We believe that judgment-free, individualized treatment should be available to people at all stages of the recovery spectrum. 

Replacement therapies
We advocate for well-researched, proven treatment strategies, such as methadone and buprenorphine, and for prescription heroin assisted treatment and other treatment models that have been successful abroad but are not yet permitted in the United States. 

Treatment instead of incarceration
DPA favors alternatives to incarceration for people with drug convictions and has supported several treatment-instead-of-incarceration ballot initiatives. No one should have to have an arrest or criminal record in order to get the health care they want. 

We believe strongly that treatment is a health service and are committed to protecting drug treatment from being co-opted by the criminal justice system. Further, we believe that no one should be convicted of a crime for what they put into their bodies, absent harm to others.

While providing treatment to those who seek help is an essential aspect of smart, effective drug policy, mandating treatment for anyone caught using or possessing any illicit drug is counterproductive. We believe that distinguishing between problematic and non-problematic drug use is extremely important, and no one should be forced into drug treatment if they do not need or want drug treatment.

New Drug Policy Alliance Report: It's Time for the U.S. to Decriminalize Drug Use and Possession

Tuesday Teleconference at 1pm (ET): ACLU, Human Rights Watch, Law Enforcement Action Partnership, Movement for Black Lives, and LatinoJustice Join DPA to Call for Decriminalization

Supporters of Decriminalization Include the United Nations, World Health Organization, International Red Cross, Organization of American States, NAACP, National Latino Congreso, and American Public Health Association

Defying Retrograde Federal Administration, U.S. States & Localities Are Taking Lead Unraveling Drug War and Implementing Health-Based Drug Policies


Tony Newman 646-335-5384
Jag Davies 212-613-8035

McConnell Floats More Opioid Funding in Healthcare Bill

Advocates Concerned Senators Will Be Lured by Broken Promise Opioid Funding will Mitigate Harm of Medicaid Expansion Rollback

Drug Policy Alliance Releases New Video Attacking Senate Healthcare Bill

Reports indicate that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has agreed to add $45 billion in new opioid funding to the Senate Republican healthcare bill.


Grant Smith 202-669-6573

Tony Newman 646-335-5384

McConnell's Draft of Healthcare Bill Confirms Dramatic Rollback of Opioid Treatment Access for Millions of People

Draft Includes Opioid Funds to Lure Republicans Concerned About Loss of Medicaid-Funded Treatment

Advocates: Pulling Medicaid Expansion Will Worsen Opioid Crisis; Opioid Funding Is No Substitute for Medicaid Expansion

A discussion draft of healthcare legislation released this morning confirms plans by Senate Republican leadership to pursue a dramatic rollback of the Medicaid expansion created by the Affordable Care Act that has extended access to treatment and mental health services to millions of people. The draft also proposes adding $2 billion in new opioid funding in an attempt to mitigate concerns about millions of people losing treatment and mental health coverage.


Tony Newman 646-335-5384
Grant Smith 202-669-6573

Groundbreaking Supervised Consumption Services Bill Passes the California Assembly

Bi-partisan Support for AB 186 to Prevent Drug Overdose Deaths in California

Late Thursday evening, the California State Assembly became the first legislative body in the U.S. to pass a bill to permit safe consumption services that would allow drug users to use controlled substances under the supervision of staff trained to treat and prevent drug overdose and link people to drug treatment, housing and other services.


Laura Thomas 415-283-6366
Tony Newman 646-335-5384
Christian Burkin 916-319-2423, Christian.Burkin@asm.ca.gov

U.S. House Passes the American Health Care Act

DPA: GOP Healthcare Bill Will Kill Life-Saving Treatment for Millions, Worsen the Opioid Crisis

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act. The measure next goes to the U.S. Senate for consideration.

Below is a statement from Grant Smith, deputy director of national affairs with the Drug Policy Alliance:


Tony Newman 646-335-5384
Grant Smith 202-669-6573

Maryland General Assembly Adopts Bills to Combat Opioid Epidemic

Legislation Addresses Access to Treatment and Crisis Services, Education, and Public Awareness

Measures Await Final Approval Before Heading to Governor's Desk

As deaths from drug overdoses increase across the state and nation, the House of Delegates has passed legislation to bolster Maryland’s public health approach to the opioid epidemic with overwhelming bipartisan support. The legislative package, endorsed by the Maryland General Assembly House Opioid Workgroup, will combat the opioid epidemic by increasing treatment access, prevention efforts, and public awareness and education.


Tony Newman 646-335-5384
Kaitlyn Boecker 402-670-3773

Groundbreaking Drug Policy Bills Reintroduced in Maryland

Legislation Addresses Addiction, Deadly Overdose, Spread of Infectious Disease and Incarceration Rates for Drug-Related Offenses

Proposed Bills Would Provide Treatment-on-Demand in Hospitals, Decriminalize Small Amounts of Drugs, and Set Up Safe Consumption Programs

As deaths from drug overdoses increase nationwide, Maryland Delegate Dan Morhaim, M.D. – also a practicing physician in emergency and internal medicine for more than 30 years – has introduced three bills to transform drug policy in the state. This groundbreaking legislative package, with multiple co-sponsors from across Maryland, would reduce the harms associated with substance abuse disorders, including rates of addiction, deadly overdose, the spread of infectious disease, crime, costs to the general public, and incarceration rates.  H.B.


Tony Newman, 646-335-5384
Lindsay LaSalle, 415-847-8064

A Public Health and Safety Approach to Problematic Opioid Use and Overdose

April 18, 2017

Rates of opioid use, dependence, and overdose in the United States are reaching epidemic-level proportions. In this action plan, DPA outlines a robust response focused on effective treatment, harm reduction, prevention, and reducing the role of criminalization to optimally address increasing rates of opioid dependence, overdose, and other negative consequences stemming from opioid use.


June 16, 2016

What causes addiction? Easy, right? Drugs cause addiction. But maybe it is not that simple. This video, made by Kurzgesagt, is adapted from Johann Hari's New York Times best-selling book 'Chasing The Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs.' The video highlights the important work of Dr. Bruce Alexander and his Rat Park project, a groundbreaking study into the causes of drug addiction.

Medical Professionals and Advocates Slam Governor's Heroin Bill that Allows Hospitals to Detain People Against Their Will

Proposed 72-Hour Detention Has No Basis in Medical Science, Dehumanizes People, and Will Likely Lead to More Overdose Deaths

Policy Responses to Drug Use Must Prioritize Health and Safety of People Who Use Drugs

ALBANY, New York — Medical professionals and advocates are expressing concerns about a provision of the heroin bill package being advanced by Governor Andrew Cuomo and the legislature, which would allow healthcare facilities to detain people who use drugs against their will for up to 3 days.

Central concerns of medical professionals and addiction treatment advocates include:


Kassandra Frederique, 646-209-0374
Matt Curtis, 646-234-9062

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