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Mar
19

Nothing ado about much

That’s the quick take on the White House’ plans to attack the opioid crisis.

Briefly, it amounts to:

  • harsher enforcement of existing drug laws,
  • education using advertising to prevent addiction,
  • helping fund treatment and
  • helping addicts find jobs while in treatment.

The latter two make a lot of sense; the first two are futile, stupidly expensive, and simplistic at best.

The “war on drugs” has resulted in millions incarcerated, trillions in costs, thousands killed, and, surprise, people still do illicit drugs.

These are just statistics, and therefore meaningless. But it isn’t meaningless for me or my family.  A family member in law enforcement died in the line of duty; much of his career was in drug interdiction and his death resulted from that work. The drug war is akin to Afghanistan; we’re never, ever, ever going to “win”, because the war isn’t winnable.

As for education, unless you’re older like me, you may not remember Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign. Lucky you.  These “education” programs don’t work…according to an NIH study, the campaign: “had no favorable effects on youths’ behavior” and may have actually prompted some to experiment with drugs, an unintended “boomerang” effect.

While the latter pair make eminent sense, there’s nowhere near enough money – and without money they’re just talking points.

We need at least $10 billion more a year for treatment, plus additional funding for Medicaid which pays for a major chunk of treatment.

There’s an argument that former President Obama took too long to recognize the opioid disaster and start working on solutions – and I’d agree.

That said, the current funding level represents a real decrease in funding, at a time when death rates are accelerating.

What does this mean for you?

We’re on our own. 


One thought on “Nothing ado about much”

  1. Thanks for the post and your time writing it. I agree that the war on drugs is not successful because it doesn’t matter what is taught or pushed by the federal government. If there is failure in the home then it is natural that society fails as well. It’s very unfortunate that our society, our country has seen such a decline in moral values and a breakdown in the home. I don’t feel it’s the governments job to protect us from ourselves. We need to step up as individuals and as a society and help and support one another, those in need, those with addictions, etc. rather than relying on the federal government. So maybe beIng “on our own” isn’t a bad thing…

    With that said it is great to see programs out there that do help people that misuse their agency and fall through the cracks. We all have our own problems and issues and addiction is unfortunately an issue for many. I understand. I see it all the time with the injured workers we help. I know the company I work for is trying really hard to hit the opioid epidemic from both ends (before and after). However I would love to see all of us focus more on programs that put a fence at the top of the cliff rather than an ambulance at the bottom.

    Thanks Joe.

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Joe Paduda is the principal of Health Strategy Associates

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