President Barrack Obama unveiled his first comprehensive plan to combat drug abuse on Tuesday, putting the focus on prevention and treatment strategies.
The plan calls for a 15 percent reduction in youth drug use, a 10 percent decrease in drugged driving, and a 15 percent reduction in overall drug-related deaths by 2015.
“I am committed to restoring balance in our efforts to combat the drug problems that plague our communities,” Obama said in a statement to Congress.
“Drug use endangers the health and safety of every American, depletes financial and human resources, and deadens the spirit of many of our communities.”
Obama’s multi-pronged strategy expands programs that monitor prescription drug usage, encourages states to stiffen penalties for drivers found with illicit drugs, and pushes healthcare practitioners to screen patients for drug abuse while promoting an expanded array of intervention-oriented treatment programs.
“The healthcare system can avert enormous human and economic cost if care providers consistently screen and intervene with early-stage substance abuse before it becomes acutely life threatening,” the strategy states.
The plan calls for the creation of a community-based national prevention system, which focuses on young people and increases research on young drug abusers, with a focus on inhalants, pain killers, steroids, and “study drugs” such as Ritalin.
Obama’s strategy also contains several law enforcement components that attempt to ease the long-term burden often felt by drug abusers who have been penalized. The strategy calls for the federally supporting job placement and drug-free housing efforts for people who have been incarcerated for drug-related offenses.
Reducing America’s drug use will have an effect on the rate that cash and guns flow across the U.S.-Mexico border, which the 97-page strategy mentions as an added key component, together with promoting alternative jobs for coca and opium farmers worldwide.
The plan also promotes alternatives to incarceration for drug-related crimes by using drug abuse courts and problem-solving courts.
While definitely the most comprehensive plan to date, the strategy builds on Obama's move almost exactly one year ago to overturn the federal funding ban for needle exchange programs, as well as the administration's push for Congress to do away with stiffer incarceration sentencing for crack cocaine crimes over powder cocaine.