Office of National Drug Control Policy Celebrates the United States’ Entry into the Open Government PartnershipPosted byon September 20, 2011 at 5:07 PM EDT
President Obama has made openness a high priority in his Administration, committing his Administration to an “unprecedented level of openness in Government” on his first full day in office. Since then, the Administration has:
- Disclosed more information requested under the Freedom of Information Act;
- Made voluminous information available on government websites; and
- Used technology in innovative ways that harness government information to improve the lives of ordinary citizens.
As President Obama today signs the Open Government Partnership declaration, ONDCP is proud to highlight some of the ways that it has advanced America’s domestic open government agenda and created a more efficient and effective government through greater transparency, participation, and collaboration.
In the last eight months, ONDCP has:
- Released three data sets and developed an internal process for identifying additional data sets for public release. In support of Data.gov, ONDCP has revised the internal procedure for preparing data for release and is working towards additional, regular releases of data in machine-readable formats.
- Created centralized online resources on the Agency’s top priorities, including the National Drug Control Strategy, prescription drug abuse, drugged driving, and prevention, as well as a page outlining ways to partner with ONDCP.
- Conducted a series of external consultations and developed an online feedback form in order to facilitate direct communication with ONDCP leadership and provide opportunities for feedback on ongoing initiatives.
- Launched a new website that provides plain language information on prevention, treatment, recovery, and law enforcement initiatives. By revising and updating the website, interested citizens are now able to easily access the Administration’s policies, learn about ongoing programs, and sign-up for email updates that include opportunities to partner with the Agency.
An open and good government is much more than releasing information. It is about harnessing the skills and talents of the American people, establishing greater collaboration among Federal agencies, and ensuring that the taxpayer’s money is wisely spent.
To that end, today, ONDCP is recommitting itself to the principles that the President announced on his first day in office and exemplified in our work since then. We are currently updating and enhancing the Agency’s Open Gov Plan. The updated plan will be made available on this website.
- Posted byon September 19, 2011 at 9:52 AM EDT
Our mantra at Reclaiming Futures sums up our goals for youth in the juvenile justice system: more treatment, better treatment, and beyond treatment.
While not every young person who uses or abuses drugs and alcohol is addicted, we know that addiction is a disease that usually has its onset in adolescence, so intervening early is important. But the problem is particularly acute in the juvenile justice system, which refers nearly half of all teens who enter publicly-funded substance abuse treatment. We also know that nearly one in five youth at the door of the juvenile justice system have diagnosable substance abuse disorders-- and that the percentage goes up, the deeper youth penetrate the system. Of youth in post-adjudication placements, 47% have alcohol and drug disorders. Furthermore, the groundbreaking Pathways to Desistance research on serious juvenile offenders found that substance use was strongly related to their continued criminal activity.
The good news is that substance abuse programs that involve an individual’s family in the intervention are one of the few things that reduced recidivism. That's why, in the communities we work with, we promote the expansion of treatment – more treatment – and the implementation of evidence-based screening and assessment tools, such as the Global Appraisal of Individual Needs (GAIN) – better treatment. Many times, trauma or other unmet needs can be a contributing factor in a youth's negative behavior choices and need to be addressed. But evidence-based practices aren't enough. Treatment isn't enough.
Probation isn't enough. Those services eventually come to an end, and then what? Reclaiming Futures communities also go beyond treatment to focus on enhancing the positive community connections and support available to youth caught in the cycle of drugs, alcohol, and crime, from formal mentors to positive activities with supportive adults to help youth enter and stay in recovery. The Reclaiming Futures model has now been implemented in 29 communities nationwide, thanks in part to our federal partners, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). That sort of public/private partnership exemplifies the broad-based, public health approach the ONDCP has fostered, through the National Drug Control Strategy it created and administers.
We're proud to be partners in implementing the National Drug Control Strategy, which takes a comprehensive, public-health approach that can only benefit youth in the justice system. Young people deserve no less.
Reclaiming Futuresis a national initiative launched by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in 2001, with the aim of improving alcohol and drug treatment for young people caught in the cycle of drugs, alcohol, and crime. Local jurisdictions – led by a judge and a team of professionals, including representatives from juvenile probation, treatment professionals, and community members – use our six-step model to reinvent the way police, courts, detention facilities, treatment providers, and the community work together.
Susan Richardson is National Executive Director for Reclaiming Futures
- Posted byon September 16, 2011 at 4:20 PM EDT
The Obama Administration supports a public health approach to reducing drug use in America. That is why ONDCP is working to integrate treatment for substance use disorders into mainstream health care. As part of this effort, we are addressing the challenge of ensuring that there will be enough health care professionals that are properly trained in how to treat substance abuse. Education and training will be particularly critical in the coming years. We anticipate that by 2020, about 7,000 addiction medicine doctors will be needed to care for an estimated 27 million patients who have a substance use disorder.
One of our key partners in this effort is the National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC) which is hosting the National Conference on Addition Disorders (NCAD) this week.
- Posted byon September 13, 2011 at 5:00 PM EDT
As a child, I watched my father battle with alcoholism and vowed that I would not follow the same path. However, the path of addiction presented itself during college in the form of alcohol and marijuana use on the weekends. In dental school, the pattern of social use and abuse continued. During my junior year of dental school a classmate introduced me to 5 mg Valium pills. Combined with a few beers, the Valium took the stress of attending dental school away and would continue to do so while running my private practice in a small rural community.
While continuing to practice and abuse drugs, I attended a continuing education course and learned alcoholism and drug addiction were diseases. Additionally, I discovered there are resources to help dentists with addictions get the help they need.
However, I placed this information aside and continued down the addiction path until it got to the point that I needed help. I remembered what I had learned at the continuing education course. I began working with a dentist who was in recovery. He enabled me to choose a different path…a path into recovery.
Part of my recovery involves assisting other dentists and dental team members in the same way someone helped me. It’s important for dental team members to know that help is available and that adequate treatment does work and as a result dentists’ personal and professional lives are restored.
- Posted byon September 12, 2011 at 1:55 PM EDT
In 2001, addiction recovery advocates from around the country assembled in St. Paul, Minnesota, to launch a new recovery advocacy movement. There were many ideas competing for prominence at this first recovery summit, but two achieved rapid consensus and have since become key philosophical tenets of the movement:
- Addiction recovery is a reality in the lives of millions of individuals and families; and
- There are many pathways of long-term recovery, and all are cause for celebration.
Nowhere are these ideas more clearly manifested than in local and national Recovery Month activities.
This month, more than 100,000 individuals in recovery and their families, friends, and allies will participate in public recovery celebration events. Our faces and voices will offer living proof of long-term addiction recovery and will illustrate more than any scientific study the growing varieties of recovery experience. The sights and sounds of these events will convey the rainbow of colors, classes, cultures, and languages that make up the contemporary history of addiction recovery.
This month, recovering people will stand together—transcending all manner of differences in our addiction histories; our distinctive religious, spiritual, and secular pathways of recovery; and our diverse life circumstances. We will stand as a people with a shared past and a shared destiny declaring to all: “If we can heal, you can heal. If we and our families can heal, then neighborhoods and communities can heal. And if communities can heal, then the wounds of our country and the world can also heal.”
William White is an author
- Posted byon September 12, 2011 at 10:52 AM EDT
At Drexel University we have made an intentional choice to address the issue of underage, illegal, and high-risk drinking and drug use. We are fortunate to have the support of the entire university community in making this commitment, including that of our new President John A. Fry. As Drexel’s alcohol and other drug (AOD) point person, I count my blessings for his support and leadership because, as we know, the support of senior leadership is critical to effectively implement change around this issue.
Strong leadership support is critical, but that is not enough. We need to address this issue from multiple angles. At Drexel, we have chosen to do what many of our colleagues across the country are doing - build on evidence-based strategies and implement a compressive approach. Some key elements of our approach include: campus climate assessments to “know your institution”; campus-wide assessments of student behavior; brief interventions; mandated and voluntary counseling; and partnering with student groups, peer educators and campus partners to deliver programs for students. These activities also involve specifically indicated populations, outreach to parents and families, campus specific research, ongoing assessment and evaluation of programs and services, and collaboration with community and national partners.
These are just a few of the key elements we have chosen for our compressive strategy. By understanding your institution and its environment, knowing your students and their behaviors, collaborating with your partners, investigating the problem and how to address it, and choosing to explore the multifaceted issue of underage, illegal, and high-risk drinking and drugging, we can work to keep our students healthy. None of this can be accomplished without university partners. I appreciate the support of the university communities in these efforts and encourage my peers to continue working collaboratively to address the issue of underage drinking and illicit drug use. To my peers I say: “Good luck with your programming journey and I hope our collective efforts will aid our students in choosing healthy options in challenging, everyday situations.”
For more information, visit the Drexel blog.
John Watson, MS, NCC is Director of Alcohol, Other Drug, and Health Education and Assistant Director of Counseling
- Posted byon September 6, 2011 at 11:40 AM EDT
A recent survey by the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health shows that U.S. adults now rate drug abuse as the top health concern for children and worry more about children using drugs than obesity or smoking, which makes talking to kids about drug use an important issue for today’s parents.
According to the survey, drug abuse and childhood obesity are the top health concerns for kids, rated by 33% of adults as big problems. This is the first time that drug abuse is at the top of the list since the annual survey’s inception in 2007. These findings are consistent with recent national data showing increasing use of marijuana and other drugs by U.S. teens.
A renewed focus on drug prevention is a major component of the Obama Administration’s effort to implement a public health approach to reducing drug abuse and its consequences. Recently, ONDCP developed an action plant o address the alarming prescription drug epidemic and revamped the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign to include enhanced community-based activities. Earlier this week, ONDCP also announced more than $88 million in Drug Free Communities Support Program(DFC) funding to 607 community coalitions to help prevent drug use at the local level.
With the recent rise in youth drug use, now is a crucial time for parents and communities to get involved in encouraging safe and healthy decisions. Tips for parents include:
- Talk to your kids about drugs. Research shows parents are the best messengers to deliver critical information on drug use. Make sure they know of the harms that can result from drug use and that you don't approve of them.
- Learn to spot risk factors that can lead to drug use. Association with drug-abusing peers is often the most immediate risk factor that can lead young people to drug use and delinquent behavior. Other risk factors include poor classroom behavior or social skills and academic failure. Parents can protect their kids from these influences by building strong bonds with their children, staying involved in their lives, and setting clear limits and consistent enforcement of discipline.
- Go through your medicine cabinet. More than 70 percent of people who abuse prescription drugs get them from friends or family – often from the home medicine cabinet. Immediately remove unused or unneeded prescription drugs from your medicine cabinet. Visit the FDA.gov website to learn how to properly dispose of prescription drugs.
For more information about ONDCP’s ongoing activities:
- Prescription drug abuse plan
- National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign
- Drug Free Community Support Program (DFC)
- Community-based prevention
- Posted byon September 1, 2011 at 4:55 PM EDT
September is National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month and, as the President’s proclamation outlines, serves as an opportunity to recognize how successful recovery from addiction is possible:
“Recovering from addiction to alcohol and other drugs takes strength, faith, and commitment. Men and women in recovery showcase the power each of us holds to transform ourselves, our families, and our communities. As people share their stories and celebrate the transformative power of recovery, they also help dispel myths and stigmas surrounding substance abuse and offer hope for lifestyles free from alcohol and other drugs”
Throughout the month, ONDCP will be highlighting stories of individual success, family support, community strength and the great work going on across the country to supportthose in recovery. To share your story or the story of the ongoing work in your organization, visit the Share Your Story webpage.
- Posted byon September 1, 2011 at 4:51 PM EDT
The revolving door of our Nation’s criminal justice system is one of the most significant challenges we face in reducing the devastating consequences of drug use. In 2009, nearly seven million individuals were under supervision of the state and Federal criminal justice systems and approximately two million of these individuals were incarcerated for their crimes, while the remaining five million were on probation or parole. While both the Federal and state correctional systems are addressing this challenge, states generally shoulder the burden of these costs. In fact, between 1988 and 2009, state corrections spending increased from $12 billion to $52 billion per year.
Further illustrating the severity of this problem are data showing that among state prisoners who were dependent on or abusing drugs, 53 percent had at least three prior sentences to probation or incarceration, compared to 32 percent of other inmates. In fact, drug dependent or abusing state prisoners (48 percent) were also more likely than other inmates (37 percent) to have been on probation or parole supervision at the time of their arrest.
Clearly, there is an urgent need to reform the way our criminal justice system approaches drug use and substance use disorders. The Obama Administration is taking unprecedented action to prevent Americans from becoming involved in drug use and crime, and provide a continuum of interventions, treatment, alternatives to incarceration, and reentry support for those that do.
In the 2011 National Drug Control Strategy,ONDCP outlines steps to implement variousinterventions to address the needs of drug-involved offenders, while also ensuring the safety of the community. Our goal is to integrate these approaches throughout the justice process: at arrest, in jail, in the courts, while incarcerated, or upon release back into the community. Our policies also place a special emphasis on the impact of drug use and crime on several targeted populations, including women and families, active duty military and their families, and veterans.
Breaking this cycle also includes implementing innovative and evidence-based alternatives to incarceration for drug-involved offenders. These include Drug Market Interventions (DMI) to disrupt open-air drug markets; Drug and Veterans Treatment Courts designed to effectively treat the substance abuse and mental health disorders of adults, young people, and Veterans in the system; smart probation strategies, like Hawaii’s Opportunity Probation with Enforcement (HOPE), to use existing community supervision mechanisms to address probationers’ underlying substance abuse issues; improved service delivery behind the walls of jail and prison; and reentry support to ensure that offenders don’t return to drug use and crime once released.
We know that these actions, taken in partnership with support for innovative programs like Drug Market Interventions, Hawaii’s Opportunity Probation and Enforcement (HOPE) program and Drug and Veterans Treatment Courts, represent a smarter way to invest in our criminal justice system.
- Posted byon August 11, 2011 at 6:01 AM EDT
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released a new report that undoubtedly surprised many across our nation: In Florida alone, prescription drug overdoses claimed 16,650 lives from 2003 to 2009 -- an average of eight deaths a day. I’m sure they are wondering: What in the world is going on in the Sunshine State?
For me, and so many others on the frontline of fighting prescription pills abuse in Florida, the report documented an epidemic that we have lived with for more than a decade. It’s been a devastating problem here, spread by the silence and misunderstanding over addiction and by the underworld pill mill economy run by rogue doctors and pharmacists who encouraged doctor shopping. We weren’t shocked by the CDC numbers showing that annual prescription drug overdose deaths jumped by 61 percent, from 1,804 to 2,905, during those years. Prescription medications, for example, were implicated in 76 percent of all drug overdose deaths in Florida, while drugs like heroin and cocaine were implicated in 33 percent of the deaths.
Prescription drug abuse is a part of daily life across Florida. You can’t overlook it.
Go on the Internet, turn on the radio, and look at the billboards along highways, and there’s countless advertisements for pain clinics offering incentives to visit their many locations, which are conveniently placed at major intersections and strip malls. Anti-drug advocates have done our best to counter this ad blitz and the general perception, especially among teenagers, that taking medicated pills isn’t dangerous.
At Narcotics Overdose Prevention & Education (NOPE) Task Force, which was started in West Palm Beach following the back-to-back overdose deaths of several teenagers, we expanded our blunt school presentations to highlight how easy it is to overdose on pharmaceuticals. Our partner agency, Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, established a solid profile of a typical victim of a drug overdose, based on information compiled from hundreds of drug-related death investigations. This profile is now being used to educate the public about the realities of who is susceptible to prescription abuse. And that’s just part of our work.
Many other organizations in Florida have done their share as well to highlight the deadly effects of prescription drug abuse. Still, as we now know from the CDC statistics, none of this was enough to stop the fast spread of the epidemic.
Today, we have new and powerful forces in our court: a governor and state legislators who have passed measures to control excessive prescriptions by pain doctors and clinics; and President Obama whose administration has drafted a comprehensive action plan on prescription drug abuse. Tragically, hundreds of people are still dying from drug overdoses in the Sunshine State. But hopefully, in the very near future, these new government initiatives, along with all the grassroots educational efforts, will bring those numbers down and end this terrible chapter in our state’s history.
Karen H. Perry is Executive Director of NOPE Task Force
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