New White House Policy on Substance Abuse: Crime News

Demand reduction policies in the past have focused primarily on prevention, intervention, and treatment. All remain key elements of the anti-drug effort. However, under the Obama Administration, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) has redefined demand reduction to include a more intense concentration on recovery from addiction.

Guided by an evidence-based approach to public health, ONDCP is now shepherding policy with a goal that goes beyond getting users to stop abusing illicit drugs and other substances.

These projects bring together a wide range of services that help people in recovery build and maintain a substance-free lifestyle. Typical recovery support services include housing, medical and dental care, mental health treatment, employment training and placement, family counseling, peer support/mutual aid support networks, child care, and transportation.

Results from several major programs administered by the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) have demonstrated the benefits of a recovery-oriented approach. These programs show significant improvement in abstinence from drug use and involvement in criminal activity, as well as improved stability in housing and employment, medical health, and positive support networks.

The Access to Recovery (ATR) program facilitates development of state vouchers to centralize assessments and referrals for recovery support services. The Recovery-Oriented Systems of Care (ROSC) program helps local communities develop and deliver integrated services.

The Recovery Community Services Program (RCSP) funds grass-root community organizations to support recovery services that help people initiate and/or sustain recovery from alcohol and drug-use disorders. Some RCSP grant projects also offer support to family members of people needing or seeking treatment or those currently in recovery.

The new concentration within ONDCP directs the agency to undertake a number of  tasks:

  • Engage the recovery community at all levels in shaping the National Drug Control Strategy and other national efforts to address addiction-related issues;


  • Support development of a full continuum of policies and programs that promote recovery;


  • Identify and work to remove real or perceived barriers to recovery;


  • Support data collection and research on successful long-term recovery; and  


  • Create and implement an effective communication strategy that celebrates and supports recovery.


  • Prevention programs and messages will clearly articulate the consequences of drug use while also celebrating and supporting those who have reclaimed their lives from addiction.

The focus on recovery hopes to provide a new view of addiction, as well as new policies that will sustain renewed health and wellness for those striving to remain drug free.

President Obama soon will release his Administration’s 2010 National Drug Control Strategy, the Federal government’s annual blueprint for addressing the Nation’s drug problem. The document lays out a new framework for an innovative and evidence-based public health and safety approach to the challenges we face from the production, trafficking, and use of drugs.

The Strategy, now in the final stages of preparation, takes a balanced approach that is comprehensive, grounded in solid research, and complete with long-range goals and measurable objectives. Specifically, it will call for curbing drug abuse through community-based prevention, science-based treatment, addiction-recovery programs, law enforcement efforts, and other means to reduce drug availability.


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