Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies

PHYSICIANS CALL FOR A NEW
APPROACH TO DRUG POLICY

Physician Leadership on National Drug Policy
Releases Position Paper Outlining Policy
Recommendations

Washington, D.C., April 6, 2000

The Physician Leadership on National Drug Policy (PLNDP)--a group of leading physicians from across the country-- released a report today outlining policy recommendations aimed at developing a more medical, public health-oriented approach to national drug policy. Calling for a new emphasis on the way drug addiction is viewed, the report details an approach to handling our nation's drug crisis by substantially refocusing America's investment in the prevention and treatment of harmful drug use.

Addiction to illegal drugs is a major national problem--affecting 6.7 million Americans. Addiction creates impaired health, harmful behaviors, and major economic and social burdens. Although drug use prevention and criminal enforcement are part of the solution, more is needed. Members of PLNDP believe that effective drug policy also requires a major expansion in drug addiction treatment and additional focus on prevention to better address substance abuse problems. It is for this reason that the PLNDP has joined together to promote a more comprehensive approach to addressing our national drug policy.

"Despite the best intentions of government policy makers and law enforcement officials, the current criminal justice driven approach is not effectively reducing, let alone controlling drug abuse in America," said Lonnie Bristow, MD, past President of the American Medical Association and PLNDP member.

The PLNDP position paper is based on evidence that shows:

  • Drug addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease;
  • Treatment for drug addiction works;
  • Treating drug addition reduces crime; and
  • Prevention and education efforts help deter our youth from substance abuse, delinquency, crime, and incarceration.

The PLNDP report includes a series of eight key policy recommendations aimed at turning the tide on the nation's drug abuse problems. PLNDP's recommendations range from reallocation of resources toward drug treatment and prevention, to parity in access to care and treatment benefits, to the elimination of the stigma associated with diagnosis and treatment of drug problems. In addition, the report contains recommendations aimed at the medical community. "PLNDP is committed to improving the capability of physicians to be better trained and educated in the screening and referral of patients with substance abuse problems," stated June E. Osborn, PLNDP Chair, President of the Macy Foundation.

As part of its outreach efforts, PLNDP seeks to educate federal and state legislators, health officials, and the public on the positive results of treating this disease. By combining drug treatment with effective criminal justice approaches, PLNDP is confident that there are great opportunities to decrease the burden of America's drug crisis on individuals and communities especially when they are integrated into multidisciplinary and collaborative efforts.

The 37-founding members of PLNDP include many former high-ranking health or drug policy advisors under the Reagan, Bush, and Clinton administrations. In addition to Drs. Sullivan and Lewis, PLNDP members include David Kessler, M.D., immediate past Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration; Edward Brandt, M.D. and Philip Lee, M.D., who were Assistant Secretaries of Health and Human Services under Presidents Reagan and Clinton, respectively; Antonia Novello, M.D., former U.S. Surgeon General under the Bush Administration and current Health Commissioner of New York; Frederick Robbins, M.D., Nobel Laureate; the editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association and Science; and a former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine. Funding for the PLNDP project comes principally from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

For more information about PLNDP, please visit PLNDP's web site at http://www.plndp.org, or contact Renae Newmiller at (202) 973-1376.
 

 

 

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