ONDCP Blog

  • The Work Before Us: A Message from Michael Botticelli

    Many great movements to change public perception and policy around a public health issue have been fueled by people with a disease speaking out publicly.  What is seen as someone else's problem—someone else’s disease – takes on a new dimension when people speak up about it.  

    Such was the case when Betty Ford revealed her breast cancer diagnosis and her substance use disorder. Such was the case when Magic Johnson revealed that he was HIV positive, spurring action to stem the AIDS epidemic.

    Yet, despite the fact that nearly every family and community in America is affected by a substance use disorder, those fighting to overcome this disease are too often hidden in the shadows of shame and denial.  It is whispered about. It is met with derision and scorn. 

    According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, only 1 in 9 people with a diagnosable substance use disorder gets treatment.  Compare this to the treatment rate for diabetes, for which 72% of people with the disease receive care.

    When treatment is provided for substance use disorders, it too often comes at the most acute stages of the disease when effective treatment is far more challenging and costly than in the early stages. Because substance use disorders have historically gone unidentified for far too long, and timely access to treatment has been far too difficult to come by, a person is expected to hit “rock bottom” before seeking help for a substance use disorder.

    Standard medical care does not allow a diabetic to enter kidney failure before offering insulin.  Yet untreated substance use disorders routinely proceed unchecked until they have reached such levels of emergency.  In addition to the unnecessary suffering for patients and their families, our current approach costs the United States hundreds of billions a year in increased health care costs, crime and lost productivity-- over $223 billion related to alcohol and $193 billion related to illicit drugs.

    Decades of scientific research have proven that substance use disorders are a health issue:  chronic medical conditions with genetic, biological and environmental risk factors.  Effective substance use disorders requires a comprehensive, public health approach involving evidence-based prevention, early intervention, treatment and recovery support services.  The National Drug Control Strategy, the Obama Administration’s template for drug policy, outlines more than 100 action items across federal government to prevent drug use and its consequences.

    Earlier this month, President Obama in his 2016 Budget requested historic levels of funding --including $133 million in new funds-- to address the opioid misuse epidemic in the U.S. Using a public health framework as its foundation, our strategy also acknowledges the vital role that federal state and local law enforcement play in reducing the availability of drugs—another risk factor for drug use.  It underscores the vital importance of primary prevention in stopping drug use before it ever begins by funding prevention efforts across the country. It sets forth an agenda aimed at stripping away the systemic challenges that have accumulated like plaque over the decades: over-criminalization, lack of integration with mainstream medical care, insurance coverage and the legal barriers that make it difficult for people once involved with the criminal justice system to rebuild their lives.

    The implementation of the Affordable Care Act will dramatically increase coverage for treatment and ensures that services are comparable to other chronic conditions for more than 60 million Americans. This is the biggest expansion of substance use disorder treatment in a generation, and it will transform millions of lives.

    All of these advancements, however, are not enough unless we fundamentally change the way we think about people with addiction.  There are millions of people in recovery in the United States leading meaningful, productive lives full of joy and love and laughter – and I am one of them.

    Tonight, the United States Senate voted to confirm my nomination as Director of National Drug Control Policy. This is an honor I never dreamed of 26 years ago, when my substance use disorder had become so acute that I was handcuffed to a hospital bed. I accept this challenge with the humility and tenacity of someone in long term recovery.

    I am open about my recovery not to be self-congratulatory, I am open about my recovery to change public policy. I have dedicated my life to treating drug use as a public health issue, and that’s how I approach this new role, as well.  I hope that many more of the millions of Americans in recovery like me will also choose to “come out” and to fight to be treated like anyone else with a chronic disease. By putting faces and voices to the disease of addiction and the promise of recovery, we can lift the curtain of conventional wisdom that continues to keep too many of us hidden and without access to lifesaving treatment.

    It is time to make a simple, yet courageous decision to be counted, to be seen and to be heard.

    Share your story with us today. 

    Michael Botticelli serves as Acting Director of National Drug Control Policy. Today, the U.S. Senate voted to confirm him as Director of National Drug Control Policy. 

  • Historic Requests for Treatment and Prevention in President Obama’s 2016 Budget

    Today, President Obama released a budget that shows what we can do if we invest in America’s future. The Budget outlines a strategy to strengthen the middle class and provide opportunity to anyone willing to work for it. Too often, however, in too many towns across America, substance use disorders dim students’ potential and diminish hard-working Americans’ opportunities.

    In response to America’s drug problem, the 2016 Budget reflects the Administration’s ongoing commitment to reducing drug use and its consequences through a balanced approach rooted in science.

    The President’s 2016 Budget, submitted to Congress today, contains over $12 billion in Federal funds -- an increase of more than $768 million over FY 2015 – for drug demand reduction programs essential to making our Nation a healthier and safer place. The $1.4 billion funding request for prevention activities increased nearly six percent over the 2015 funding level, and the $11 billion requested for treatment represents a nearly seven percent increase. Together, these funding requests amount to the largest commitment to treating and preventing substance use disorders to date.  

    Consistent with the Administration’s balanced approach to public health and public safety, the Budget also calls for increases for supply reduction programs that disrupt the flow of illicit drugs into our country and reduce drug trafficking domestically.  This includes$9.7 billion for domestic law enforcement activities, a nearly four percent increase over the FY 2015 funding level; $3.9 billion for interdiction, an increase of two percent; and $1.6 billion for international funding, an increase of more than one percent. 

    The Budget requests $85.7 million for the Drug Free Communities program, a local, community-based coalition program supporting nearly 700 local drug prevention groups, and $193.4 million to facilitate greater collaboration across federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement through the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTAs) Program.

    Reducing drug use and its harms is a complex challenge that requires coordination between a broad array of government agencies at the federal, state and local level, community advocates, non-profits and civil society organizations. The President’s 2016 Budget underscores this Administration’s commitment to a balanced approach that treats drug use as a public health issue and directs valuable law enforcement resources to combating serious public safety threats.

  • Learn How to Transform Your Community and Change Lives

    In my home state of New Mexico, substance abuse and addiction present serious challenges to our families and way of life.

    The destructive influence of drugs and crime that threaten our communities require a holistic approach and dedication – and this means coming together to help those in need who suffer from addiction, to help prevent youth from ever using, and to stand opposed to those who traffic these dangerous substances. This is not a unique challenge to New Mexico, but one that cities and towns across America confront. In my district, one of the organizations that has been successful in getting results has been the Taos Alive Coalition, and one of the things that has aided them in their missions has been the grant they received from the Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Support Program.

    The Taos Alive Coalition came together when a collaboration of the Taos and regional programs applied for funding through the Drug-Free Communities Support Program in 2010. In the past five years Taos Alive has worked on numerous fronts, including prescription drugs, alcohol, and synthetic drugs. Its prescription drug initiative has been one of the most successful initiatives to date – establishing the permanent drop boxes in our community and successfully assisting with bi-annual Prescription Drug Take Back events. Before the Taos Alive Coalition formed with DFC funding, Take Back Taos County collected less than 3 pounds of drugs. With the involvement of Taos Alive, they estimate that more than 65 pounds was collected. Further, Taos Alive—whose members include medical professionals from government and private practice--created opioid prescribing guidelines in the local emergency room and is working on community opioid prescribing guidelines. Youth media prescription drug training is given to all Taos High School youth & school staff in Taos County; and they have helped several schools to create prescription drug policy & procedures.

    Through these community efforts, Taos Alive is improving its community and making it a safer place to live. And it is able to do this so effectively, in part, because of the Drug-Free Communities Grant from the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Since the passage of the DFC Act in 1997, the DFC Program has funded more than 2,000 coalitions and currently mobilizes nearly 9,000 community volunteers across the country. Grantees establish and strengthen collaboration among communities – public and private non-profit agencies – as well as Federal, state, local, and tribal governments to support the efforts of community coalitions working to prevent and reduce substance use among youth and, over time, reduce substance abuse among adults by addressing the factors in a community that increase the risk of substance abuse and promoting the factors that minimize the risk of substance abuse.

    The FY 2015 DFC Request for Applications (RFA) has been released and is available online. In recognition of how transformative these grants are, and to assist community groups with the application process, ONDCP is hosting workshops on the technical aspects of filling out grant applications. While these workshops are not mandatory, they will offer guidance on the process that many groups that are less experienced filling out grant applications may find useful. Workshops will be held on:

    Tuesday, January 27, 2015
    Sheraton Albuquerque Uptown
    2600 Louisiana Boulevard Northeast
    Albuquerque, NM  87110
    Check-in8:00 a.m. 
    Workshop: 8:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
    Native American/American Indian Support Workshop: 3:00 - 4:00 p.m.
     
     
    Thursday, January 29, 2015
    Atlanta Airport Marriott
    4711 Best Road
    Atlanta, GA 30337
     
    Friday, February 6, 2015 (after CADCA’s National Leadership Forum)
    Gaylord National Hotel & Convention Center
    201 Waterfront St.
    National Harbor, MD 20745

     

    A videotaped version of this workshop is also available on the ONDCP website. Register for the workshops and find information about the Drug Free Communities Program.

    I’m proud of the work I have seen from the DFC grantees in my district, and know that they are succeeding around the country. A DFC grant is one way for communities to come together to fight back against the influence of substance abuse and addiction. Commitment and collaboration are essential tools for change, and working together we can help our family, friends, and towns heal and thrive.

    Congressman Ben Ray Luján represents New Mexico's Third Congressional District. 

     

  • Treatment, Recovery and the ACA: Watch Live Weds., Jan 21 at 2:30 p.m.

    Tonight, when President Obama delivers the State of the Union, he will share how the Affordable Care Act has made quality, affordable health coverage available to millions of Americans. The Affordable Care Act also provides one of the largest  expansions of mental health and substance use disorder coverage in a generation by requiring insurers to provide mental health and substance use disorder benefits at parity with coverage for any other disease.

    Tomorrow, we will explore how the Affordable Care Act is changing the way substance use disorders are treated in America.           

    On Wednesday, January 21 at 2:30 p.m. EST, we will convene experts from the substance use disorder treatment and recovery fields for a meeting titled “Treating Substance Use Disorders Today: Access, Recovery, and the Affordable Care Act”. 

    Watch this meeting live starting at 2:30 p.m. EST on whitehouse.gov/live.

    During this meeting, which will be co-hosted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), we will hear from a panel of experts and from real people who are able to access treatment and recovery support services for themselves or family members.

    If you can’t join us in person, we invite you to host a viewing party. You can register your viewing party here. You can also join the conversation on Twitter by including #ACA4Recovery in your tweets all day tomorrow.

    Learn more about what the Affordable Care Act means for behavioral health with this infographic from our partners at SAMHSA:

     

    SAMHSA Enrollment and Outreach Resources

     

  • Securing our Nation’s Caribbean Border

    In 2009, President Obama signed an Executive Order that expanded the purview of the President’s Task Force on Puerto Rico to seek advice and develop recommendations on policies for the island that promote job creation, education, health care, clean energy, economic development, and public safety.  Addressing these issues has been an on-going effort for the Task force and the Administration. Today, the President announced the release of the 2015 Caribbean Border Counternarcotics Strategy, a major step forward on matters of utmost importance to the people of Puerto Rico –  public health and public safety.

    By delivering on this important recommendation, the Obama Administration, in an effort spearheaded by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, seeks to substantially reduce the threat posed by drug trafficking, transnational organized crime, and associated violence to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

    In its 2011 report to the President, the Task Force concluded that both the capacity of local law enforcement and the efforts of the Federal agencies charged with public safety in Puerto Rico require a significant amount of attention from Federal and local stakeholders.

    Strengthening Public Safety

    Public safety is a major challenge in Puerto Rico.  During the Task Force’s public hearings, residents of Puerto Rico raised concerns about crime and the law enforcement response. The homicide rate in Puerto Rico is alarmingly high. Puerto Rico’s geographic location, with approximately 300 miles of unprotected shoreline, makes it especially vulnerable to transnational crime. Located along the Mona Passage, a heavily used shipping lane between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, the region has become an increasingly important point for drug trafficking between South America and the continental United States and Europe.

    Drug traffickers have long used this region as a transshipment point.  Recently however, the nature of the trafficking has changed.  Due to stepped-up law enforcement efforts, drug traffickers have decreased air activity and increased maritime shipping.  There has also been an increase in detected maritime transport of cocaine loads to the Puerto Rico area.  According to the Puerto Rico Police Department, high homicide rates can be attributed to power struggles and turf wars among violent gangs and drug trafficking organizations whose members compete to supply the demand for both illegal and diverted legal drugs.  These groups frequently use intimidation, violence, and murder to gain and retain control of retail drug markets.

    Cocaine is the principal drug threat and a source of associated violence throughout the Caribbean. The trafficking threat and violence is also associated with marijuana, heroin, and prescription drugs.  Illicit trafficking is a highly fluid enterprise.  The documented cocaine flow from the source zone to the United States via the Caribbean—including Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Eastern Caribbean countries—has more than doubled in the past three years, from 38 metric tons (MT) in 2011, to 59 MT in 2012 and 91 MT in 2013, according to the interagency Consolidated Counterdrug Database. This marks the highest documented cocaine flow since 2003.

    Unlawful firearms trafficking also poses a threat to public safety and contributes to the high homicide rate and drug-related violence.   The danger posed to children by the drug trade and gang violence continues to increase.  Criminal incidents that frequently occur in the school system include violence, vandalism, and property theft.  As drug trafficking activities increase in the region, so do related financial crimes.  Trafficking organizations have displayed limited sophistication in money laundering.   Rudimentary schemes to use the drug proceeds, either laundered through the financial system or transported to foreign locations, have been used in bulk-cash smuggling operations.  These conditions create an environment conducive to a broad range of corruption activities.  

    In light of these challenges, the Task Force recommended that the various Federal agencies with security and law enforcement responsibilities convene a formal, interagency process of coordination and collaboration regarding Puerto Rico’s security and safety.  Improvements in public safety would benefit the people of Puerto Rico and help in the broader effort to combat drug trafficking throughout the region.

    Federal Response to Date

    Cooperative partnerships, expanded bilateral agreements, and training programs are essential force-multipliers that help counter the transnational drug threat.  Federal agencies must continue to leverage established partnerships among themselves and with local law enforcement agencies to capitalize on the unique authorities and capabilities of each organization.  Building and improving bilateral and multilateral partnerships through law enforcement agreements, professional exchanges, training, and joint operations is essential to reducing illicit drug flow through the region.

    In response to increases in drug trafficking and related crime, Federal law enforcement agencies have expanded their efforts in the region.  The Departments of Justice and Homeland Security have devoted resources to address drug-related violent crime on the islands and have coordinated with Federal and local partners to confront this ongoing threat to public safety. 

    2015 Caribbean Border Counternarcotics Strategy

    Today’s announcement demonstrates the Obama Administration’s commitment to strengthen Puerto Rico’s public safety.  The 2015 Caribbean Border Counternarcotics Strategy (Caribbean Strategy) articulates the U.S. framework for reducing the threats associated with drugs at the border and is guided by the following strategic objectives:

    Strategic Objectives

    1. Enhance intelligence and information-sharing capabilities and processes associated with the Caribbean border.
    2. Interdict illicit drugs and drug proceeds at and between U.S. ports of entry in the Caribbean.
    3. Interdict illicit drugs and illicit drug proceeds in the air and maritime domains in and around the Caribbean border; maximize evidence and intelligence collection to support criminal investigations leading to associated and higher echelon networks.
    4. Disrupt and dismantle transnational criminal organizations operating in and around the Caribbean border.
    5. Substantially reduce the level of drug related violent crime in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
    6. Strengthen communities and reduce the demand for drugs.

    The Caribbean Strategy outlines supporting actions and identifies the Federal agencies responsible for coordinating and executing these actions.  To ensure effective implementation, the Caribbean Strategy provides indicators to develop baselines and enable status tracking.

    This Caribbean Strategy is aligned with the Task Force recommendation, and it complies with the report language accompanying the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014 (P.L. 113-76) (Appropriations Act), initiated by Puerto Rico’s congressional representative, Congressman Pedro Pierluisi, which requires that the Office of National Drug Control Policy submit to Congress a biennial Caribbean Border Counternarcotics Strategy.

     

     

     

     

     

  • Highlights from 2014

    2014 has been a year of significant developments for drug policy in our country as well as at the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). This year, President Obama nominated Michael Botticelli to Director of National Drug Control Policy. If confirmed, he will become the first person in recovery from a substance use disorder to ever hold the position. We made progress against the opioid epidemic as prescription drug abuse and overdose prevention efforts expanded across the country. A significant number of states passed overdose prevention laws and more police departments began to equip officers with naloxone, the life-saving overdose reversal drug. Supporting these efforts, the Department of Justice released a naloxone toolkit to help increase its use by law enforcement agencies and the Attorney General urged federal law enforcement agencies to identify, train and equip with naloxone personnel who may interact with victims of opioid overdose. For the first time since 1999, the number of deaths involving prescription drugs declined, and teens reported lower rates of drug, alcohol and cigarette use. We also hosted a historic event on recovery at the White House during National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month.

    Here are highlights from 2014:

    January

    Attorney General Eric Holder speaks in support of the bipartisan Smarter Sentencing Act, which would give judges more discretion in determining appropriate sentences for people convicted of certain federal drug crimes, and provide a new mechanism for some individuals – who were sentenced under outdated laws and guidelines – to petition judges for sentencing reductions that are consistent with the Fair Sentencing Act.

    February

    Mexican authorities announce the capture of Joaquin "Chapo" Guzman Loera, the alleged head of a drug-running empire that spans continents.  The criminal activity Guzman allegedly directed contributed to the death and destruction of millions of lives across the globe through drug addiction, violence, and corruption. The operation led by the Mexican government is a significant victory and milestone in U.S.-Mexican efforts to combat drug trafficking, violence and illicit activity along our shared border.

    March

    The UN officially endorses recovery. A resolution on the importance of recovery proposed by the United States at the 57th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) was approved on March 21st in Vienna, Austria.  This resolution marks the first time in the more than 50-year history of the global anti-drug regime that the concept of recovery was formally accepted and supported by United Nations Member States.

    April 

    The 2014 Advocates for Action come to The White House to meet with Acting Director Botticelli and discuss their work and advocacy on drug policy. Meet them and hear their stories:

    May 

    Acting Director Botticelli speaks at the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission in Washington, D.C. The 34 Member Nations from the Organization of American States gathered to discuss an array of public health and drug policy issues, including drug courts and other alternatives to incarceration and the growing challenge of local distribution of drugs within Latin America. Acting Director Botticelli discusses the disease of addiction, the expanding access to drug treatment under the Affordable Care Act, and Federal monitoring of state marijuana laws in Colorado and Washington. 

    June

    In response to rising rates of heroin use and related overdose deaths, ONDCP hosts the Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse Summit at The White House, where Acting Director Botticelli, Attorney General Holder and Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin rally around our shared goal of dramatically reducing the rate of heroin and prescription drug abuse across the country.

    July

    ONDCP releases our 2014 National Drug Control Strategy at a substance abuse treatment center in Roanoke, Virginia, where Acting Director Botticelli also tours the Hurt Park neighborhood, which was the site of a successful alternative policing program called Drug Market Intervention. The same day, Acting Director Botticelli meets with a community social services center called Total Action For Progress, which supports young people and others in recovery and connects them with employment.

    August

    President Obama announces his intent to nominate Michael Botticelli as Director of National Drug Control Policy. If confirmed, he will become the first person in recovery from a substance use disorder to hold this position.

    September

    The White House hosts Recovery Month event.  NFL legend Cris Carter; Christina Huffington; veteran reporter and author Ruben Castaneda; Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, Mayor Tim Wilson; and television news anchor Laurie Dhue speak to a packed auditorium at The White House about their recovery experiences, and where the recovery movement is going in the future.

    October

    ONDCP announces the addition of 26 counties and cities in 11 states to the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program, which facilitates collaboration between state, local and federal law enforcement. ONDCP also announces $84 million in Drug-Free Communities Support Program grants for 680 community coalitions across the country.

    November

    ONDCP and the Drug Enforcement Administration educate community agencies about implementing drug disposal programs. In 2014, the Administration issued new regulations to create convenient, legal avenues for safe, environmentally-friendly disposal of unneeded prescription drugs. This is one of the four pillars outlined in the 2011 Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Plan, and is critical to curbing the national opioid epidemic. Thanks to the new regulations, individuals will have more convenient and environmentally responsible means to dispose of unused prescription drugs.

    December

    President Obama declares December as National Impaired Driving Prevention Month. Throughout this month, ONDCP is working with the Department of Transportation and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to raise awareness of drugged driving and encourage communities to engage in prevention activities

     

  • Updated Infographic: Overdose Prevention, State by State

    This August, we released an infographic showing states (and the District of Columbia) with laws allowing for the prescribing and administration of naloxone and/or criminal protections for bystanders who seek emergency assistance. Since then, even more states have enacted such laws, and we have updated the infographic to reflect current state laws as of December 2014. Please download and share:

     

    Download the PDF. An explanation of the graphic is below. 

    UPDATE (As of November 2014):

    Twenty-three states (CA, CO, CT, GA, IL, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, NJ, NY, NC, OH, OK, OR, PA, TN, UT, VT, VA, WA, WI) have statutes which allow for “third-party” prescriptions of naloxone i.e. the prescription can be written to friend, relative or person in a position to assist a person at risk of experiencing an opioid overdose.  Virginia only allows third-party prescriptions through a provisional pilot program.  Three additional states (IN, LA, MO) allow prescriptions of naloxone to qualified first responders (e.g. law enforcement, EMT, firefighter).  One additional state (DE) allows prescriptions of naloxone to peace officers who have received training.

    Fifteen states (CA, CO, CT, GA, MI, MN, NJ, NM, NC, OH, PA, TN, UT, VT, WI) have statutes which protect prescribers from civil liability actions. 

    Eighteen states (CA, CO, CT, GA, IN, MA, MI, MN, NJ, NM, NY, NC, OH, PA, TN, UT, VT, WI) have statutes which protect prescribers from criminal liability actions.

    Twenty states (CA, CO, CT, GA, KY, MI, MN, NJ, NM, NY, NC, OK, OR, PA, RI, TN, UT, VT, VA, WI) and the District of Columbia have statutes which protect lay persons from civil liability for administering naloxone to someone believed to be experiencing an opioid induced overdose. In Virginia, this protection only applies to persons that are participating in the provisional pilot program.  Two additional states (IN, LA) provide civil liability protections to first responders.  One additional state (DE) provides civil liability protections to peace officers who have received training.

    Twenty-four states (CA, CO, CT, GA, IL, KY, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, NJ, NM, NY, NC, OH, PA, RI, TN, UT, VT, VA, WA, WI) and the District of Columbia have statutes which protect lay persons from criminal liability for administering naloxone to someone believed to be experiencing an opioid induced overdose.  In Virginia, this protection applies to persons that are participating in the provisional pilot program.  Three additional states (IN, LA, MO) provide criminal liability protections to first responders.  One additional state (DE) provides criminal liability protections to peace officers who have received training.

    Twenty-one states (AK, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, IL, LA, MD, MA, MN, NJ, NM, NY, NC, PA, RI, VT, WA, WI) and the District of Columbia have statutes which prevent charge or prosecution for possession of a controlled substance and/or paraphernalia for persons who seek medical/emergency assistance for someone that is experiencing an opioid induced overdose.  Additionally, in UT and IN, evidence of providing assistance to someone experiencing an opioid overdose can be presented as a mitigating factor at sentencing to a conviction for possession of a controlled substance and/or paraphernalia.  UT allows evidence of providing assistance to someone experiencing an overdose to be used as an affirmative defense to an allegation of possession of a controlled substance and/or paraphernalia.

  • New Data Announced: Declines in Teen Opioid, Cigarette and Alcohol Use

    Today, Acting Director Michael Botticelli joins Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse along with Dr. Lloyd Johnston and Dr. Richard Miech of the University of Michigan to announce the results of the 2014 Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey. The survey, conducted earlier this year by scientists at the University of Michigan, tracks annual drug use and attitudes among 8th, 10th, and 12th-grade students.

    There is good news in the data announced today, which reflect declines in youth drug and alcohol use across the board.

    Cigarette and alcohol use--and prescription pain relievers misuse—have all declined since 2013.  Marijuana use rates did not increase in 2014, and, among 10th graders, both past-year and daily marijuana use declined by 8 percent and 15 percent, respectively. Past year use of synthetic marijuana, dangerous drugs that have cut the potential of far too many young people, is now down among 12th graders from 11.4% in 2011 to 5.8% in 2014.Additionally, all measures of alcohol drinking (past-month, past-year, lifetime, daily, and 5 or more drinks in a row in the last 2 weeks) were significantly lower than 5 years ago, and all levels are at an all-time low since 1991. 

    The Obama administration remains steadfast in its commitment to reduce drug use and its consequences—and we know that the best way to reduce drug use is to prevent it from ever starting. We join our partners at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in encouraging parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors to have a conversation with a young person in their lives about making the healthy decisions that will keep them on a path toward a successful future. View valuable resources on starting the conversation here.

    Monitoring the Future is one of three major survey instruments the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services uses to monitor the nation’s substance use patterns among teens.  Information from these surveys informs strategic planning for prevention, treatment, and recovery support services for youth.  The Monitoring the Future survey produces timely results, with findings announced the same year the data is collected.

    It is troubling that approximately 10 percent of seniors report having driven a vehicle after smoking marijuana in the two weeks prior to their interview.  That is a greater frequency than those who drove after drinking alcohol (7 percent). 

    Earlier this month, President Obama raised awareness about the risks of drugged driving when he designated December as National Impaired Driving Prevention Month, and we urge parents, partners and prevention advocates to spread the word: drugged driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving.

    To learn more about Monitoring the Future’s 2014 results, please read the press release, and join us at 1 p.m. EST for a Twitter chat with the National Institute on Drug Abuse to discuss the findings. Use the hashtag #MTF2014 to follow along and ask questions of the head of our research and data analysis office, Dr. Terry Zobeck. 

  • Preventing Drugged Driving is as Important as Preventing Drunk Driving

    On June 12, 2008, a drugged driver in Putnam County, New York, struck and killed a bicyclist – a married, 48-year-old father of two. The driver was allegedly under the influence of morphine and marijuana at the time of the accident.  Unfortunately, incidents like these are increasingly common in the United States, leaving more families to mourn the loss of a loved one taken too soon.

    Conversations about impaired driving are nothing new for American families. The archetype of an innocent victim killed by a drunk driver is both an immediately recognizable story and an unfortunate reality for too many people.  While drunk driving has become a social taboo, there is less awareness about the dangers of driving after consuming drugs, which can carry the same lethal consequences as alcohol-impaired driving.  Drugged driving isn’t a new trend, but with current conversations regarding the legal status of certain substances, the Office of National Drug Control Policy seeks to increase awareness of the potentially tragic yet 100-percent avoidable consequences associated with drugged driving.  In the same way that Americans have banded together to prevent drunk driving over the past few decades, it’s time we also make the prevention of drugged driving a national priority.

    According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s National Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers, 16 percent of weekend, nighttime drivers tested positive for the presence of illicit drugs or medications with the ability to affect driving skills in 2007.  In the years since the survey was conducted, there has been an increase in both prescription and non-medical drug use that, at any level of consumption, may affect a driver’s perception, judgment, motor skills, and/or memory.  ONDCP is collaborating with the Department of Transportation and other Federal agencies to combat drugged and drunk driving to keep our roads safe.  In the 2014 National Drug Control Strategy, the Administration highlights a plan to reduce drugged driving by 10 percent by 2015, including encouraging states to enact per se (similar to zero tolerance) drugged driving laws, and to improve law enforcement efforts to identify drugged drivers. 

    If the shift in social norms against drunk driving tells us anything, it’s that the voices of average Americans can make a difference.  With the help of Americans everywhere, we can send the message that drugged driving should not be tolerated any more than drunk driving—that we are dedicated to keeping our children safe.  This December, as we recognize National Impaired Driving Prevention Month, remember how important it is that we come together with a unified message:  Drugged driving is dangerous.

    Michael Botticelli serves as Acting Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. 

  • Watch: Webinar on the DEA’s Final Rule on Disposal of Controlled Substances

    On November 6, the Office of National Drug Control Policy joined the Drug Enforcement Administration to host a webinar for community agencies looking to implement drug disposal programs. The safe, environmentally sound disposal of prescription drugs is one of the four pillars outlined in the 2011 Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Plan to reduce prescription drug misuse, and is critical to curbing the national opioid epidemic. Officials and disposal experts from Alameda County, California also joined to discuss how ordinances might define and fund programs at the county level. 

    Watch the video: