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Closing the Addiction Treatment Gap Initiative Highlights Opportunities for New 'Drug Czar'
Date:3/11/2009

BALTIMORE, March 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Open Society Institute's Closing the Addiction Treatment Gap (CATG) today said key opportunities exist for the new Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDPC) to shift and strengthen the United States' approach to the problem of addiction.

Timed with today's announcement of Seattle Police Chief R. Gil Kerlikowske's official nomination as the nation's "drug czar," the CATG initiative called on the Obama Administration and Chief Kerlikowske to review and reform the overall rhetoric and direction that has surrounded the U.S. approach to addiction issues for decades.

"The new director can exploit significant opportunities," said CATG Director Victor Capoccia. "America doesn't need an 'Office of National Drug Control Policy' at all. As a first priority, we hope he realizes that America instead needs an 'Office of Addiction Prevention and Treatment' that truly understands addiction as a health condition, and that helps federal, state and local entities to address this health condition."

Other opportunities outlined by the CATG initiative include the following:

  • Acknowledge that addiction is a chronic disease. Right now an estimated 23 million Americans suffer from addiction and need treatment; sadly, only one in 10 of them (2.4 million) gets the treatment they need. Lack of insurance, inadequate insurance coverage, and insufficient public funds are chief among the many reasons for this gap.
  • Create an appropriate balance between policies that control access to harmful substances, and policies that provide access to and support for treatment. Addiction is not only a disease but a chronic disease. The drug control office's numbers for fiscal year 2009 (developed by the prior administration) perpetuate a narrow emphasis on law enforcement, devoting almost two-thirds of its funding to domestic law enforce
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SOURCE The Open Society Institute
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