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.

Cameron Douglas, Son of Actor Michael Douglas, Given Longest-ever Federal Prison Sentence Imposed for the Simple Possession of Drugs for Personal Use While Behind Bars

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

Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or Daniel Abrahamson 510-326-0224

Brief of Amici Curiae in support of Appellant, Cameron Douglas

May 21, 2012

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.

Report of the Global Commission on Drug Policy

June 2, 2011
Global Commission on Drug Policy

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.

A Mother Speaks Out

On June 13, 1971, I became a mother when my first son was born. Five days later, President Nixon declared the "war on drugs." Little did I know then that this war would be waged against families like mine for the next four decades.
 
Read Gretchen's story.

Federal Activist Toolkit

We can make a powerful impact by urging our members of Congress to end failed drug war policies. They care what their constituents have to say.
 

Tips for Talking to Congress

Legislators appreciate hearing from their constituents, and they are elected to represent our views. Always give your legislator your name, address, and telephone number so that they know you are one of their constituents. Be sure to include this information whether you visit in person, call, or write.

When you contact your legislators, a short sentence or two about why you personally support or oppose a certain proposal is fine. 

Most importantly, always be courteous and clear when communicating with your legislators. Remember, legislators are people, too!

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