Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies

Washington, D.C. 20503

For Immediate Release
March 17, 1998

White House Drug Czar Barry R. McCaffrey Supports Physician Leadership on National Drug Policy Findings on Prison Treatment

Office of National Drug Policy Director Barry R. McCaffrey released the following statement of support for a study released today by Physician Leadership on National Drug Policy. The study concludes that treatment for drug abuse works as well as established medical treatments for illnesses such as diabetes, athsma and hypertension.

"We welcome this superb report from the Physician Leadership on National Drug Policy as an important vehicle through which we can raise our nation's awareness of the need for enhanced drug treatment. The study clearly demonstrates treatment for drug abuse to be as good as treatment for diabetes, asthma and hypertension, and better and cheaper than prison. These findings echo the Administration's efforts to provide more effective drug treatment to addicts and to break the cycle of drug crime and imprisonment".

"This contribution to the body of scientific work forcefully reaffirms that addiction is a terrible and costly-but also preventable and treatable-disease." The cost of drug abuse to individuals and society is unacceptably high. In 1997, nearly 5.7 million (2.2% of America's population) were under corrections supervision. According to Bureau of Justice Statistics, in June 1997, the nation's prisons and jails held more than 1.7 million men and women - an increase of more than 96,100 over the prior year. This translated into one in 155 US residents being incarcerated. Increases in jailing drug offenders accounted for nearly three-quarters of the growth in the federal prison population between 1985 and 1995, while the number of inmates in state prisons for drug law violations increased by 478 percent over the same period. About 60 percent of federal prisoners in 1997 were sentenced for drug law violations."

"Such troubling statistics indicate the need for improved treatment programs. Even though Department of Justice Drug and alcohol counseling was available in 90% of the State and federal facilities, only 10 to 20% of the inmate population participated in the program. Yet, the benefits of effective treatment programs are clear. A cost benefit of $10,000 per person in terms of health care, criminal justice, and victimization savings can be realized through prison treatment programs. Put another way, America can save seven dollars for every one dollar it spends on treatment. The Office on National Drug Control Policy will explore these issues further during it's Prison and Drugs Conference to be held March 23-25 in Washington, D.C."

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