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Critics Say the Government Needs to Spend More on Drug Control Policy

Although the U.S. government has announced its plans to help reduce the number of people who abuse drugs as well as the number of people who fall ill or die because of drug abuse, some say the Obama administration should be allocating even more money to the cause.

As part of the new drug control policy, the White House has asked Congress to increase spending on drug control activities by 3.5 percent next year. The money would help curb drugged driving, raise awareness about prescription drug abuse, expand drug courts, and subsidize opium and cocoa farmers in other countries to help them switch to legal crops. Officials are also urging doctors and clinics to ask their patients questions about drug abuse.

However, some drug policy specialists think that a 3.5 percent increase is not enough. John Carnavale, a drug policy consultant who used to work for the government, said that America has a great strategy but not a lot of means to implement it. Even supporters of the plan say they think two-thirds of the $15.5 billion should go towards treatment and prevention, rather than towards cutting the supply of illegal drugs.

Others say that the White House isn’t devoting enough money to the National Institutes of Health's National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), which researches new methods for treating addiction. The White House has asked Congress to increase the NIDA budget by $35 million, but it’s still $100 million less than last year.

Gil Kerlikowske, the director of the White House’s Office of National Control Policy, said that President Obama has requested a 13 percent increase for prevention efforts, which he says will be more helpful than spending the money on law enforcement or keeping illicit drugs out of the country.

He added that the plan would fund research experiments to help prevent teenagers from starting to use drugs, and that the NIH will help train primary care physicians and other healthcare professionals to be more aware of patients who abuse drugs so they can get the help they need.

Kerlikowske added that the new health-care bill has the potential to make drug treatment more accessible because currently, millions of Americans are uninsured.

Source: The Washington Post, Amy Goldstein, Some say government's new strategy to fight drug addiction needs more funding, May 24, 2010.

Posted on May 23rd, 2010
Posted in Drug Policy

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