Sunday, November 1, 2015

Obama Announces Plan to Address Drug Abuse

This past weekend, President Obama traveled to Charleston, West Virginia to hear the stories of individuals and families affected by the drug abuse epidemic. Obama also heard from health care professionals, community leaders, and law enforcement officers on stage at a community center about how to prevent addiction and respond to it afterwards. According to a report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the rate of overdose deaths in West Virginia is the highest in the nation- over twice the national average (Source).

The President issued a Memorandum to Federal Departments and Agencies, which outlined the two important steps of training health care professionals who prescribe controlled substances and making treatment more accessible. Obama hopes to see Congress appropriate $133 million toward this treatment program, and he has emphasized how he does not want this to be a partisan issue, but that hope is not guaranteed. He also "told the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to invest $8.5 billion in opiate addition prevention" (Source). Medical provider groups and companies like Google, CBS, Major League Baseball have agreed to all donate millions of dollars toward PSAs about prescription drug abuse.

Obama's plan represents a broader shift in how Americans see addicts; that addicts should be helped rather than punished. However, not everyone shares this mindset and may not want $133 million appropriated to fight this issue. Clearly, the President has a crucial role in setting national priorities of issues to address, and has the informal power to get major companies to back this issue of drug abuse, but it is all up to Congress to decide what money should be directed toward this issue.

What do you think about Obama's plan? Is it a step in the right direction, or are there other methods or issues that should be touched on? What do you think should be done to combat the issue of drug abuse? Do you think that Congress will be able to successfully appropriate funds to this issue?

AljazeeraThe White HouseThe Washington Post


Anonymous said...

I think that it is a wonderful thought to address drug abuse and to try to help stop it, but those sentiments do not belong in government. The government should not be stepping in to help people when they get into trouble. Maybe this should bring up the question about the health care coverage of rehabilitation services, but that is a different topic. I don't think that Obama should be using any of the government's time, energy, or resources to help drug abusers. I hope that there are charities to help people because I understand that it is a difficult and potentially life-ruining situation, but the aid should be kept out of Washington.

Emily Shen said...

I can see why some may question the government's decision to spend time and resources to help drug abusers. It is a costly battle. However, drug abuse does not only affect the health of families and individuals — it threatens American society at large as well. Drug abuse's influence on American society is far-reaching, impacting the economy due to loss of productive life and putting stress on the healthcare and justice systems (either through possession or violent drug-related crimes). The draconian laws we've historically passed (e.g. three strikes laws) have been costly and ineffective — I believe that programs designed to emphasize rehabilitation more than punishment are an investment that will ultimately help us in the long run.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, rehabilitation rather than punishment of drug abusers is definitely a step in the right direction. While the instinctive reaction to someone breaking the law is to punish that person, there are many other factors that must be taken into account; some of these factors include the helplessness of drug users caught up in their addictions and the economic repercussions due to policy regarding the "war on drugs." With these factors in mind, it is not beneficial to society to focus on punishment. Drug users will not receive any help overcoming their addictions, but additionally, as Emily mentioned, the funds needed to enforce such anti-drug measures will set the government back economically.

On the other hand, rehabilitation offers many benefits. Those who need help will have a better opportunity of receiving help. Furthermore, larger emphasis on the treatment over punishment of drug abuse will help reduce the negativity associated with drug users. It is easy to label all drug users as evil and a threat to society because of the negative connotation associated with drug use. While there definitely are immoral individuals who do drugs, there are also those who abuse drugs because they cannot escape their addiction. These people can be rehabilitated in order to help them beat their addictions. If society recognizes that drug abuse is something that can be treated rather than merely punished, there will end up being less active drug users in society, and in the end, this is truly what we are trying to achieve.

Jonathan Liu said...

I'd like to agree with Emma; I don't think rehabilitation has any place in the government. Now, I understand the concerns, and the benefits of offering help rather than punishments for drug abusers. However, the way I see it, the only thing keeping more people from abusing drugs is that it's illegal, and enforced by the government. If the government decides that instead of punishing abusers it wants to help them, it might be the same as encouraging more drug abuse by decreasing the threat of punishment. Furthermore, rehabilitation only really works if the abusers want to go through it too. I'm sure there are many people out there who have no problem with their drug abuse, and see no reason to go through rehab. For them, what can/should the government do? I mean it always depends on how exactly the government plans to combat abuse, but from my understanding, it seems like it could be a poor idea.

Anonymous said...

I think it is a really nice idea, to replace punishment with help when dealing with drug abuse. However, I also think that it maybe a battle that is already won. The reason being the fact we have already seen what happened when congress tried to fight drugs, the result being billions of dollars being wasted on the War on Drugs in other countries. So I can honestly see why many people would be opposed to it, however I would also like to hope that an idea like this would work. Whether an idea like this would work or not is all up in the air. Another thing is first it is not a matter whether congress will be able to gather 113 million, it is a matter of will they do it. Also agreeing with Jonathan, it is also a matter on how many people will actually be committed to getting the necessary help.