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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Harm reduction is a framework for helping drug and alcohol users who cannot or will not stop completely_the majority of users_reduce the harmful consequences of use. Harm reduction accepts that abstinence may be the best outcome for many but relaxes the emphasis on abstinence as the only acceptable goal and criterion of success. Instead, smaller incremental changes in the direction of reduced harmfulness of drug use are accepted. This book shows how these simple changes in emphasis and expectation have dramatic implications for improving the effectiveness of psychotherapy.
Currently in the Paperback Edition, Harm Reduction Psychotherapy has been used by both professionals and students as an introduction to this growing field.
Andrew Tatarsky, Ph.D., holds a doctorate in clinical psychology from City University of New York. He has a private practice in New York City specializing in harm reduction psychotherapy with drug and alcohol users and is co-director, with Dr. mark Sehl, of the Harm Reduction Psychotherapy and Training Associates, a treatment and training organization.
California’s landmark treatment-instead-of-incarceration program – Proposition 36 – was written and sponsored by DPA, and approved by 61 percent of California voters in 2000. Under this law, most people convicted for the first or second time of a nonviolent, low-level drug possession offense have the right to choose probation and community-based drug treatment instead of jail or prison.