Speaking at this year’s annual JMATE conference, the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s David Mineta stressed the Administration’s priority on drug prevention, treatment and diversion programs. "Addiction can be overcome and recovery is absolutely possible," he said. "And we need to make sure our young people have the brightest future possible. It’s personal for us."
With the recent release of the 2012 National Drug Control Strategy [pdf], it’s clear that the Administration plans to follow up Mineta’s remarks with a strong policy strategy for reducing drug use and its consequences. In particular, the Strategy recommends diverting non-violent drug offenders into treatment, supporting reentry programs to help offenders rejoin their communities and bolstering innovative enforcement programs.
Writing in the White House Blog, Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius, U.S. Attorney General Holder and ONDCP Director Kerlikowske explain their multi-agency approach to reducing drug use and supporting recovery efforts:
Our emphasis on addressing the drug problem through a public health approach is grounded in decades of research and scientific study. There is overwhelming evidence that drug prevention and treatment programs achieve meaningful results with significant long-term cost savings. In fact, recent research has shown that each dollar invested in an evidence-based prevention program can reduce costs related to substance use disorders by an average of $18.
But reducing the burden of our Nation’s drug problem stretches beyond prevention and treatment. We need an all of the above approach. To address this problem in a comprehensive way, the President’s new Strategy also applies the principles of public health to reforming the criminal justice system, which continues to play a vital role in drug policy. It outlines ways to break the cycle of drug use, crime, incarceration, and arrest by diverting non-violent drug offenders into treatment, bolstering support for reentry programs that help offenders rejoin their communities, and advancing support for innovative enforcement programs proven to improve public health while protecting public safety.
In recognizing the potential of the criminal justice system in deterring/reducing/treating drug and alcohol addiction, the Strategy praises Reclaiming Futures for its work in addressing substance abuse and mental health problems among youth in the juvenile system:
The Reclaiming Futures initiative, involving SAMHSA, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), and private partnerships, is building the capacity of state, local, tribal, and territorial leaders to establish and improve juvenile drug courts and juvenile court systems to effectively provide treatment for substance use disorders, which is often at the root of so many other problems, including juvenile crime and violence . Through the Second Chance Act, the Administration is expanding mentoring for juvenile offenders during their confinement, transition back to the community, and post-release .
For additional insight into the Strategy, check out the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s podcast discussion with ONDCP Director Gil Kerlikowske.
And juvenile courts interested in implementing the Reclaiming Futures model should apply for federal funding!
Liz Wu is a Digital Accounts Manager at Prichard Communications, where she oversees digital outreach for Reclaiming Futures and edits Reclaiming Futures Every Day. Before joining the Prichard team, Liz established the West Coast communications presence for the New America Foundation, where she managed all media relations, event planning and social media outreach for their 6 domestic policy programs. Liz received a B.A. in both Peace and Conflict Studies and German from the University of California at Berkeley. She tweets from @LizSF.