The U.S. policy regarding the drug problem is centered mainly on the enforcement of its drug laws and the intervention in the drug supply both within the U.S. and from bordering countries. There is no question that this “crusade” has an impact. Importing a kilogram of cocaine into the US costs approx $15000 while sending a regular package weighing the same costs about $100 (1).
Still, the recent assassination of the Mexican “drug czar”, points to another fact: Where there’s money, there’s a way. Drug cartels will find a way to deliver their product as long as customers are waiting on the other side of the border. One of the battles in this war has to be fought on the prevention/intervention side.
Health insurance in the United States rarely covers any of the cost involved in drug treatment, even though at least 42 states require them to do so by law! Even when they do, insurance companies often limit coverage to 30 days of residential treatment. I’ve made it clear before, but I feel that the notion that 30 day treatment can work needs to be removed from our consciousness (2). I realize this may require hypnosis…
Anyway, without funding, the hope of making drug treatment truly affordable and accessible is small and dwindling as it requires more medical treatment, which is obviously costly. I hope that this aspect of health care coverage finds its way into the ongoing debate, especially given the high, and increasing prevalence of drug abuse in this country.
(1) Reuter & Pollack (2005). how much can treatment reduce national drug problems?
(2) McLellan, Lewis, O’Brien, & Kleber (2000). Drug Dependence, a Chronic Medical Illness Implications for Treatment, Insurance, and Outcomes Evaluation.