ROANOKE, Va. — The Office of National Drug Control Policy earlier this week released the 2014 National Drug Control Strategy, the Obama Administration’s primary blueprint for drug policy in the United States.
The strategy extends the administration’s record of drug policy reform by outlining a series of actions that will continue to expand health interventions and “smart on crime” alternatives proven to reduce drug use and its consequences in America. The strategy also notes significant increases in heroin and prescription drug abuse as key challenges and highlights a series of actions currently underway to reduce the impact of the opioid epidemic in the United States.
The 2014 strategy builds upon a series of actions focused on improving education for patients and healthcare providers, supporting the expansion of state-based prescription drug monitoring programs, developing more convenient and environmentally responsible disposal methods to remove unused medications from the home and reducing the prevalence of pill mills and diversion through targeted enforcement efforts.
“We commend the ONDCP for taking a balanced, comprehensive approach to reducing the nation’s prescription drug abuse problem through its 2014 National Drug Control Strategy," stated John Gray, CEO of the Healthcare Distribution Management Association. "Like ONDCP, HDMA believes that the solution to this issue requires a multifaceted strategy, one in which law enforcement is still vital, but combined with adequate monitoring, treatment and education efforts to reduce addiction."
ONCDP's science-based strategy is founded on the latest research regarding the nature of substance use in America. Specifically, the Strategy is based on the scientific consensus that addiction is a disease of the brain that can be prevented, treated and from which people can recover, not a moral failure on the part of the individual. As a result, the 2014 Strategy directs Federal agencies to expand community-based efforts to prevent drug use before it begins, empower healthcare workers to intervene early at the first signs of a substance use disorder, expand access to drug treatment for those who need it, and implement criminal justice reforms designed to break the cycle of drug use, crime, and incarceration while protecting public safety. The release of the administration’s strategy comes at a time of growing public support for more balanced approaches to drug policy. According to a Pew Research Poll released in April, 67% of Americans support providing treatment for individual drug users compared to 26% who favored prosecution.
“Public opinion on drug policy is finally catching up to what the science has demonstrated for quite some time,” stated Michael Botticelli, acting director ONDCP. “We cannot incarcerate addiction out of people. While law enforcement should always play a vital role in protecting communities from violent drug-related crime, at the end of the day we must acknowledge that public health and criminal justice initiatives must to work together to address this complex challenge in a smarter way. This issue touches every family and every community in one way or another. There are millions of Americans — including myself — who are in successful long-term recovery from a substance use disorder. This policy supports each and every one of us and demonstrates a real commitment to a smarter, more humane approach to drug policy in the 21st century.”
In addition to outlining actions to expand public health and safety programs, the strategy also specifically addresses the threat of opioids, which include heroin and prescription painkillers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drug overdose deaths, driven by prescription painkillers, now surpass homicides and traffic crashes in the number of injury deaths in America. In 2010, approximately 100 Americans died from overdose every day. To address this challenge, the strategy calls for an enhanced focus on overdose prevention and intervention to include increasing access to the emergency overdose reversal drug naloxone; expanded efforts to educate communities on how to intervene, prevent loss of life, and direct those in need to treatment; and strengthened efforts with interagency and international partners to dismantle criminal organizations involved in heroin trafficking. The Strategy also calls for improved data collection to improve the ability of Federal, state, and local officials to identify and respond to emerging threats.
In support of this strategy, the president has requested $25.5 billion in fiscal year 2015. Federal funding for public health programs that address substance use has increased every year, and the portion of the Nation’s drug budget spent on drug treatment and prevention efforts (43%) has grown to its highest level in over 12 years. Moreover, the $10.9 billion request for treatment and prevention is now nearly 20% higher than the $9.2 billion requested for Federally-funded domestic drug law enforcement and incarceration. The FY 2015 budget request also includes $3.9 billion for interdiction, and $1.4 billion for international programs.
To read the strategy and learn more about the Administration plan, visit: WH.gov/drugpolicyreform.