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U.S. Looks to Other Nations for Addiction Treatment Ideas: Kerlikowske


The United States is looking to other nations for ideas on how to treat addiction as a disease, the U.S. Director of National Drug Control Policy said Tuesday. Gil Kerlikowske, who spoke during a visit to London, said the Obama Administration wants to speak to drug addiction experts in other countries to learn whether elements of their programs could work in the United States, according to Reuters.

Kerlikowske has visited Portugal, Italy, Mexico, Colombia and other South American countries to see different types of drug treatment programs, the article notes. He said the approach to drug addiction in Portugal was somewhat successful. Since 2001, authorities in that country have focused their efforts on prevention messages and treatment, and stopped arrests, trials and imprisonment of people who carry a personal supply of drugs.

He said the U.S. is taking a more balanced approach to substance use, with an emphasis on treatment instead of law enforcement. He urged the international community to work together on substance abuse prevention and treatment programs, to stop the cycle of drug use, criminal acts, imprisonment, release, and re-arrest.

Last week, the Office of National Drug Control Policy released a report that it said showed the importance of addressing the nation’s drug problem not just as a criminal justice issue, but as a public health issue.

The report showed a decline in cocaine use since 2003, which indicates that law enforcement efforts and public education campaigns may be having an effect. Illegal drug use overall has decreased about 30 percent since 1979.

An average of 71 percent of men arrested in 10 U.S. metropolitan areas in 2011 tested positive for an illegal substance when they were taken into custody, the study found. The rates ranged from 64 percent in Atlanta, to 81 percent in Sacramento, California. These rates were higher for almost half of the collection sites since 2007.

6 Responses to this article

  1. Avatar of ARCpoint Labs of Louisville
    ARCpoint Labs of Louisville / May 24, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    Interesting article. I think a drug treatment plan rather than just jail time should definitely be put in place.

  2. Jim Sharp / May 23, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    The “War Against Drugs” has really been a war against people with a medical condition (addiction) particularly and excessively against minorities (see the excellent book, The New Jim Crow). Criminalizing the use of drugs has been a disaster not only for addicts and the U.S. but it also has almost destroyed entire nations (in the past: Bolivia, Columbia; currently: Mexico). I am delighted that we are now considering alternatives.

  3. Avatar of Amp
    Amp / May 23, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    When is everyone going to understand we are dealing with the disease of addiction? Not just alcohol, cell phones, shopping, sex, drugs…….it would be so much simpler to focus on one disease. From an economic perspective, a social perspective, etc.

    This is not rocket science.

  4. Michael W. Shore, M.D. / May 23, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    There are sufficient experts in the USA to propose workable and effective solutions to the epidemic of addiction. A MAJOR need is to have insurers cover the clinically necessary treatments without putting up barriers to access, and to recognize this as the Public Health threat that it is and provide government resources to treat patients and not incarcerate them!! Dr. Shore

  5. jboside / May 23, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    This is stupid, other countries come here to the US to learn how to treat addiction. At least in my County no one goes to jail for personal amoumts of drugs for the past 20 years. He’s falling into Drug Policy Alliance propaganda. Drug use overall has gone down because of what we’ve been doing for all those years, but in the Obama Administration marijuana use has gone up 20%. In the end this administration will go down as having the worst record ever when it comes to substance abuse. We will be dealing with their blunders for years to come.

  6. Avatar of David
    David / May 23, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    Thank you

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