National Drug Control Policy director, Gil Kerlikowske, recently revealed the 2011 National drug Control Strategy, and with it, the government’s hopes of drug prevention. Kerlikowske is counting on collaborations from different areas in order to carry out the plan.
Help for Women, Veterans, and College Students
The first thing the strategy does is identify populations to be target for drug prevention and treatment. This year the three at-risk populations are: women, veterans, and college students. Each of these groups have been at greater risk for substance abuse in recent years.
Drug abuse among women is rising and women are also less likely to seek treatment for an addiction. In particular, teen girls are now abusing prescription drugs at a higher rate than teen boys. (1)
Veterans are in need of programs that help them deal with drug and alcohol addiction, as well as the underlying problems that cause them to self-medicate in the first place. There are 75,600 homeless veterans in our country, many of whom are there because of substance abuse. (1)
College drug abuse is also rising and many of these young adults are throwing away their futures because of the partying they do when they are young. 44% of full-time college students admitted to binge drinking, and 20% use illicit drugs and abuse prescription drugs. (1)
Prescription Drug Abuse and Drug Trafficking
The Drug Control Strategy, which is updated at least every 2 years, also looks at other trends that should be addressed. This year’s strategy focuses a great deal on prescription drug abuse, an alarming problem in our country today. The new report also acknowledges the dangerous issue of drug trafficking over our borders.
Solutions to the Drug Problem
The government’s Drug Control Strategy is pretty straightforward and consists of information we’ve most likely heard before. There are no surprises. “Drug use affects every sector of society that is vital to a strong America, straining our economy, our health-care and criminal justice systems and endangering the futures of our young people,” Kerlikowske said. (1)
The ultimate goal of such a strategy is to reduce drug use and its consequences. The key will be how this is accomplished. Prevention plans are helpful, but they require funding to carry out. Monitoring plans such as prescription drug databases offer ways to catch those abusing drugs. Better treatment programs will help with the recovery process, but they also require funding and staffing.
It will be important in the next year for the government to work with treatment providers, parents, and law enforcement to make an impact on the drug problem. Too often, good programs are not carried through because of budget cuts. By pooling resources and being willing to fund programs that really work, we can improve and save lives.