Gentlereaders: The new officials at the Office of National Drug Control Policy state that only two of twenty-five million addicts receive drug treatment (this site offered similar research several weeks ago). The article correctly points out two things: that we need to prove the worthiness of programs and that there is a lot of competition for tax paid dollars. While drug treatment can be a messy proposition with considerable dropout rates and periods of relapse, we are personally aware of hundreds of taxpaying citizens who were once very troublesome tax burdens. Treatment made a big difference in their lives.
Seventy percent of people caught up in the criminal justice system have children; thus the impact of tax paid drug treatment seems to multiply and takes on a different perspective. But as stated, it’s up to us in the criminal justice system to prove to weary taxpayers that their dollars are well spent.
Crime in America.Net staff.
Addiction on 2 Fronts: Work and Home
WASHINGTON — His son had been dead from an overdose only three months when A. Thomas McLellan, among the nation’s leading researchers on addiction, got a call from the office of Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. Would he accept the nomination to be the government’s No. 2 drug-control official?
Dr. McLellan, 61, makes no secret of his cynicism about government — “I hate Washington,” as he put it in an interview — and he had no intention of leaving his job as a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and scientific director of the Treatment Research Institute in Philadelphia.
But the loss of his younger son, who overdosed on anti-anxiety medication and Scotch last year at age 30 while his older son was in residential treatment for alcoholismand cocaine addiction, changed his perspective.
“That’s why I took this job,” said Dr. McLellan, who was sworn in as the deputy director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy in August. “I thought it was some kind of sign, you know. I would never have done it. I loved all the people I’ve worked with, I loved my life. But I thought maybe there’s a way where what I know plus what I feel could make a difference.”
Married to a recovering cocaine addict, Dr. McLellan has been engulfed by addiction in life and work. His own family has been a personal battleground for one of the country’s most complex and entrenched problems, while as an expert he has been a leading voice for the idea that addiction is a chronic illness and not a moral issue.
This view squares with that of his boss, R. Gil Kerlikowske, a former Seattle police chief who declared on taking office as drug czar in May that President Obama’s administration would no longer use the term “war on drugs” — and that the term implied the government was waging a battle against its citizens.
Instead, the two men say the government needs to change its drug-control strategy, redirecting some of the resources into prevention and treatment and away from law enforcement and antitrafficking efforts, which consumed 75 percent to 90 percent of the budget during the Bush administration.
Dr. McLellan said that of the 25 million substance abusers he estimated were in this country, only about 2 million were receiving treatment. He and Mr. Kerlikowske want to triple that number, partly by spending more money and partly through other tactics, like integrating addiction treatment into the primary health care system.