Enforcement Vs. Prevention

From all-about-addiction:

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 thatArrest 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.


3 thoughts on “Enforcement Vs. Prevention

  1. I know I tend to be opinionated on some subjects, and this is one. I have never used drugs in my life. And no, I have not had a perfect, unblemished life. I, too, like everyone else, I’m sure, has had hard, hard times I’ve had to deal with. Yet never in my 35 years have I turned to drugs or alcohol to treat the sometime harsh reality of living. Personally, I do not feel that I should pay for insurance that covers extended drug rehabilitation or that the government should use my tax money to fund such increasing health coverage . I believe it is a weakness in the person who uses drugs, and our society’s “it’s all about me” attitude that contributes to our drug problems. There is a prevailing attitude in our country that the world owes us a perfect life, and well, if we don’t get it, let’s just zone out and get stoned. Puleeze.
    Prevention, I believe, is much more effective. Continue the marketing campaign against drugs, make it so “uncool” that even the ‘losers’ won’t want to be caught doing it. Take away the peer pressure and the drugs might go away. How do that? Now there’s the rub….
    On the other side of the coin, perhaps if we legalize the stuff, those people who can’t stop using it can just keep using until they wipe themselves right off of our planet. Darwin theory at work, perhaps? Only the fittest would remain. Well, it’s a thought.

  2. Dear irritated,
    I appreciate your candid response, and I can tell you that in my research experience, there is certainly a difference between people who experiment with drugs and those who never do. Kudos on being from the latter group!
    Additionally, there are clear differences between those who try drugs and those who become addicted/dependent on them. You may be surprised to find that you’re already paying for drug use. You pay for it in the form of jail and prison maintenance, staffing, and expansion (CA has a plan for a large prison building project on the books right now).
    What I’m suggesting is a way to try and alleviate some of those costs, but again, a thought…

  3. Pingback: Drug Users - Should We Pay For Their Rehab? « Irritated Lady’s Weblog

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