New National Drug Control Policy Strives to Balance Prevention, Treatment, Law Enforcement
USCM Applauds New Direction
By Laura DeKoven Waxman
May 24, 2010
In a departure from previous strategies, the National Drug Control Strategy released by President Obama and Office of National Drug Control Policy Director R. Gil Kerlikowske May 11 aims at bringing prevention and treatment efforts into better balance with law enforcement. In addition, it acknowledges that drug problems are most effectively handled at the local level and emphasizes the importance of community-based efforts to preventing drug use.
“This strategy incorporates drug control policies mayors have been advocating for many years,” Conference of Mayors CEO and Executive Director Tom Cochran said in a statement on the Strategy the day it was released. Two days later in a conference call that Director Kerlikowske and mayors organized by White House Deputy Director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Relations David Agnew, Rochester (NY) Mayor Robert Duffy, Chair of the Conference of Mayors Criminal and Social Justice, told the Director that, “It is very clear that you have listened to mayors and police chiefs from around the country about the direction our national drug control policies need to take.” Both Cochran and Duffy pledged the Conference of Mayors commitment to working with the Administration to implement the strategy.
The Strategy calls for:
- strengthening efforts to prevent drug use in communities;
- seeking early intervention opportunities in health care;
- integrating treatment for substance use disorders into health care, and expand support for recovery;
- breaking the cycle of drug use, crime, delinquency, and incarceration;
- disrupting domestic drug trafficking and production;
- strengthening international partnerships; and
- improving information systems for analysis, assessment, and local management.
The President's FY 2011 Budget proposes a 13.4 percent increase in funding for drug prevention efforts over FY 2010 levels, and includes funding for a new initiative - Prevention-Prepared Communities. Proposed at $22.6 million, that program would operate initially in 30 communities to supplement existing community-based efforts focused on youth ages 9-25. Grantees would be expected to conduct epidemiologic needs assessments, create a comprehensive strategic plan, implement evidence-based prevention services, and address common risk factors for mental, emotional, and behavioral problems. In contrast the budget proposes a reduction in funding for the existing Drug Free Communities Support Program from $95 million this year to $85.5 million next year.
The Strategy puts considerable emphasis on the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, which is funded at $45 million this year, and would expand to $66.5 million next year. That Campaign is intended to increase teen exposure to anti-drug messages through a combination of paid advertising (through television, Internet, and cinema) and public communications (through community events, corporate partnerships with youth brands, and youth-centered activities).
Among the proposals for early intervention through health care, the Strategy calls for curbing prescription drug abuse by expanding prescription drug monitoring programs, encouraging community prescription take-back initiatives, informing the public of the risks of prescription drug abuse and overdose, recommending disposal methods to remove unused medications from the home, and working with physicians to achieve consensus standards on opiate painkiller prescribing.
To break the cycle of drug use, crime, delinquency, and incarceration, the Strategy calls for:
- supporting law enforcement's efforts to reduce drug availability and to educate the public about the dangers and legal consequences of drug trafficking and drug abuse;
- encouraging partnerships and collaboration between law enforcement and community organizations to increase cooperation and understanding and to reduce open-air drug markets and gang activity;
- promoting and supporting alternatives to incarceration such as drug- and problem'solving courts;
- reducing drug use by those under criminal justice supervision through drug testing with certain, swift, but modest sanctions in probation and parole systems;
- mandating treatment and court monitoring for chronic drug-using offenders who disproportionately burden the healthcare and criminal justice systems;
- supporting post-incarceration reentry efforts by assisting in job placement, facilitating access to drug-free housing, and developing adult reentry programs; and
- developing and disseminating more effective models of addressing substance use disorders among youth in the juvenile justice system.
The Strategy is available at http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/strategy/.