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.