The United Nations General Assembly gathered in New York for the first time since 1998 for a special hearing on the Failed War on Drugs earlier this year. President Nixon began the war on drugs in 1971 proclaiming “America’s public enemy number one in the United States is drug abuse”. In order to win the war President Nixon, lead an all-out offense attack on the prohibition of drugs, military intervention, and a foreign aid to reduce the trade of illicit drugs. America punished manufacturers, locked up traffickers and suppliers, and treated the drug addicts as criminals. During this process our police departments militarized and expanded and the prison systems ballooned. With all our efforts, the problem is still here today. The War on Drugs has gained much criticism in the past decade, arguing that it has burdened taxpayers without resulting in a significant reduction in addicts abusing drugs.
“Several Decades of scientific research have made it clear that our current approach to this drug epidemic simply isn’t working, “said Medical Director Dr. Michael Lowenstein. He has observed firsthand how the War on Drugs has failed the very people it was intended to save.
“Under our current drug policy, rates of heroin overdose have quadrupled since 1999. Clearly, we can be doing more to help those who are vulnerable to opiate dependence. Addicted patients and their families deserve an updated, scientifically grounded, compassionate approach to global drug policy. This must include access to the best heroin addiction treatment available.”Overdose deaths from opioids drugs like heroin, oxycodone and hydrocodone continue to be the leading cause of unintentional deaths for Americans.1 Although drug overdose deaths involving natural and semisynthetic opioid analgesics like oxycodone and hydrocodone decreased from 29 percent in 2010 to 24 percent in 2015, overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids like fentanyl (other than methadone/dolophine/methadose) increased from 8 percent in 2010 to 18 percent in 2015. In addition, heroin overdose deaths tripled from 8 percent in 2010 to 25 percent in 2015.2 According to the National Safety Council, opioid overdoses involving prescription painkillers and heroin killed 37,814 people in 2016.3 Such painkillers include: Obama’s plan, the UN report calls for expanded access to effective treatments for drug dependence to help drug addicts. President Obama’s Plan:
- On top of expanding access to MAT, the White House announced other initiatives:
- providing an additional $11 million to increase access to naloxone, the opioid overdose reversal drug.
- establishing a Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Task Force.
- Ensuring that mental health and substance use benefits are offered as medical and surgical benefits are for those enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
- A $7 million initiative by the Department of Justice toward policing and investigating heroin distribution.
- Guidance from the Department of Health and Human Services for federally funded needle exchange programs.