Use of drugs, particularly cocaine and methamphetamine, is on the decline in the United States, according to U.S. National Drug Control Policy Director R. Gil Kerlikowske. He spoke this week at the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission.
Kerlikowske said American drug use has already dropped by one-third since its peak in the 1970s. Cocaine use has declined 40 percent, and methamphetamine use by 50 percent, in the past five years, he added.
He said the Obama Administration is focusing on placing criminals driven by an underlying substance use disorder into supervised treatment, in order to break the cycle of drug use and crime, UPI reports. He noted 120,000 people in the United States are diverted into treatment, instead of incarceration, each year.
Kerlikowske discussed other public health initiatives to reduce drug use, including Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment, which helps health institutions recognize the signs and symptoms of drug addiction early.
“The Affordable Care Act is also revolutionary, because for the first time, it makes drug treatment a required benefit for all Americans who suffer from substance abuse disorders – nothing short of a revolution in how we deal with substance use in the U.S.,” he said in a statement.
The administration is also focusing on major drug trafficking groups operating within the United States, he said. In 2011, U.S. law enforcement agencies disrupted or dismantled 612 drug trafficking organizations on the Attorney General’s Consolidated Priority Organization Target list, which centers on the major drug trafficking and violent criminal groups in the United States.