Analyses in US News and The Atlantic released during the health care debate showed the harmful impact that the President’s budget proposal and the Congress’s attempts at repealing Obamacare would have on families. While the President’s budget is not certain of passing and the Republican plan seems dormant for now, the trend is alarming for those of us who work in the substance-use field.
It always seems like two steps forward and one step back. In the late 1970s several prominent politicians and celebrities courageously came forward about their alcoholism in an effort to begin a national conversation about addiction. This forward progress on confronting the stigma of addiction was countered by President Reagan’s War on Drugs, which focused money on stopping the flow of drugs and on incarceration.
In combination this Administration’s proposals would:
· Reduce funding for addiction treatment, research and prevention
· Cut funding for addiction research and eliminate support for the training of addiction professionals
· Eliminate funding for the Department of Justice's community policing anti-heroin task forces
· Cut millions of dollars of federal support of drug courts, prescription drug monitoring programs and state programs aimed at prescription drug overdoses
· Allow states to weaken a requirement that private insurance cover addiction treatment
· The efforts to shrink Medicare would have eliminated treatment for 3 out of 10 adults with opioid addiction.
According to one advocacy group's analysis, the plans would cut prevention programs by more than 30 percent. After all the progress, we have made in reducing stigma and proclaiming recovery this is another step backward.
To come full circle Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced July 12th that he would like to bring back D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) a program spearheaded by Nancy Regan. The program was launched in 1988 and in 1994, the Research Triangle Institute, funded in part by the Justice Department, conducted a meta-analysis of all the existing research on DARE. Its conclusion was withering: D.A.R.E. had little to no impact on rates of teen drug use.
We can hope and pray that saner heads will prevail.