ONDCP Blog

  • New Synthetic Drugs Information Kit for Parents

    This morning Director Kerlikowske and Steve Pasierb, President and CEO of The Partnership at Drugfree.org, co-hosted a working group session at ONDCP to share information regarding the emerging threat of synthetic drugs and promote a coordinated response.  Participants included high-level officials from the Department of Health and Human Services; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Department of State; the Department of Defense; the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America; the American Association of Poison Control Centers; and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.

    Public health authorities across the Nation continue to report serious adverse effects from these drugs, including seizures, elevated blood pressure, nausea, hallucinations, and paranoid behavior.  There have also been news reports of fatalities. 

    To help parents address the threat posed by synthetic drugs, today The Partnership at Drugfree.org introduced a kit for parents and adult influencers that provides the tools they need to talk with their teens about these drugs and to recognize the warning signs of use. The information kit includes a slidecast about synthetic drugs, a corresponding podcast and video, and a printable guide so parents can share details on what to look for, what the street names are, and what the effects of these substances are with others in their community.  The information kit is available at The Partnership at Drugfree.org website and is part of a "Parents360" community education program funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance.

    Rafael Lemaitre is Associate Director for Public Affairs

  • Prevention: Creating a Path to a Healthier and Stronger Nation

    Ed. Note: This post was updated at 10:00 am on February 16, 2012.

    The concept of substance abuse prevention is a simple one: the most efficient and cost-effective way to reduce the damage caused by drugs and alcohol, is to prevent abuse and addiction before it starts.  However, translating that concept into actionable objectives and measurable results is a difficult task that many of our National, state, local, and tribal partners have been perfecting for years.  It is in celebration of these outstanding and ongoing efforts, and in recognition of all of the Americans’ lives that can be improved through prevention that I stand with President Obama in commemorating National Substance Abuse Prevention Month.

    Millions of Americans struggle with substance abuse and the negative consequences of their addiction also impact their families, friends, neighbors, and communities.  In fact, substance abuse touches every sector of our society, straining our health care and criminal justice systems – costing the U.S. as much as $193 billion annually in recent years. Prevention is the key to reducing this financial burden and building healthy and safe communities across the country.  Put simply, it makes more sense to stop drug use before it begins to generate addiction and crime than it does to warehouse people in prisons.  

    We know that prevention works.  Recent research has shown that each dollar invested in an evidence-based prevention program can reduce costs related to substance use disorders by an average of $18.  Community programs have been effective in encouraging prevention at the local level and parents can serve as positive role models by talking with their children about the dangers of drug use.  Through effective prevention programs we can decrease emergency room visits, and lower rates of chronic disease, improve student achievement, and enhance workforce readiness.  All of these actions are vital at a time when the Country is working tirelessly to recover from a lagging economy. However, this is also the ideal time to get personally involved.

    Join your friends and neighbors by getting involved today:

    Visit the prevention website for more information about ONDCP’s prevention efforts, including the Drug-Free Community Support Program and the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, and read the President’s National Substance Abuse Prevention Month Proclamation.

    R. Gil Kerlikowske is Director of National Drug Control Policy

  • Above the Influence Teen Group Wins MTV’s Unwasted Weekend Challenge

    On Thursday, February 9, 2012, an Above the Influence teen group from Essex, Vermont received national attention as winners of MTV’s Unwasted Weekend Challenge.  The Challenge asks teens to submit a video depicting what they would do to make the most of a weekend in their hometown.  The Essex CHIPS (Community Helping to Inspire People to Succeed) Above the Influence teen group was selected out of hundreds of submissions nationwide to share their ideas and creativity.

    Over 200 high school students attended a first viewing of the winning video created by CHIPS in advance of its public debut on February 14, 2012.  The event provided students and community leaders with a true premiere experience—a walk along the red carpet with gold posts and a photo opportunity in front of a backdrop branded with the logos for Above the Influence and Essex CHIPS.  Local elected officials from the Vermont State House of Representatives, Vermont State Senate, and officials from the Vermont Department of Public Health also participated in the Unwasted Weekend Challenge celebration.

    Above the Influence is reaching teens in local communities across the country. Young people are engaged directly to inform and inspire the campaign with the goal of rejecting drug use and other negative influences, and youth-serving organizations have found value in partnering with the national campaign to further their respective missions.

    More information on Essex CHIPS and its winning video submission can be found here.

  • The 2012 CADCA Leadership Forum: Strategy in Action

    The 2012 Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) Leadership Forum, held February 6 – 9 near Washington, DC, drew thousands of coalition leaders and supporters from all over the country.  This annual Conference is an opportunity for grassroots activists from across the country to learn, network, and get motivated to reduce youth substance use. 

    ONDCP was out in force at the conference, hosting workshops, giving presentations, and even receiving awards.  One of ONDCP’s very own interns won the prestigious CADCA Youth of the Year Award for his work in the State of Washington.  Teddy McCullough, a student at American University, is currently an intern with the Office of State, Local, and Tribal Affairs at ONDCP.  Just 18 years old, Teddy gave an inspirational speech at the Awards luncheon and serves as an excellent example of the power of community coalitions.

    Also speaking at the luncheon was Maryland Congressman Elija Cummings, who commended the attendees for their activism and encouraged those present to speak their mind in the face of substance abuse. 

    ONDCP’s Ben Tucker, Deputy Director for State, Local, and Tribal Affairs, David Mineta, Deputy Director for Demand Reduction, and Marilyn Quagliotti, Deputy Director for Supply Reduction, all presented at a well-attended session entitled “Connecting Communities with the National Drug Control Strategy.”  The three deputy directors spoke with coalition leaders about ways in which communities could contribute to the implementation and success of the National Drug Control Strategy.

    Deputy Director Tucker opened the conference with a speech emphasizing the need to reduce youth drug use so our Nation can remain competitive, reach its potential, and fulfill what the President envisioned in his State of the Union address as an “America built to last.”

    Deputy Director Mineta addressed graduates of the National Coalition Academy, praising those who had successfully completed a one-year course designed to enhance the ability of anti-drug coalitions to reduce drug use and its consequences in communities.

    The energy and enthusiasm of the group was palpable as participants gathered to put the National Drug Control Strategy into action.

    Ben Tucker, ONDCP’s Deputy Director for State, Local, and Tribal Affairs, speaks at the 2012 CADCA Leadership Forum. Joining him on the panel are David Mineta, left, Deputy Director for Demand Reduction, and Marilyn Quagliotti, right, Deputy Director for Supply Reduction.

  • A Week Dedicated to the Children of Alcoholics

    Nothing is more important in shaping the life trajectory of a child than the values he or she learns at home.  Children learn from the examples set by their parents, grandparents, siblings, and other caregivers.

    But what if the family at home is broken?  Far too many children in the United States are exposed to alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence in the family.  Many others are affected by a family drug problem.  Most will never receive the focused early intervention and support they need unless they attend a school with a student assistance program that addresses their issues.  They suffer in silence as they attempt to navigate through the chaos fostered by alcoholism and drug abuse in families. 

    According to data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, 90% of people who need treatment for alcohol or drug use disorders do not receive it.  Consequently, only a small fraction of the children in our country who are adversely affected by their parents’ alcohol or drug use see their parents recover from these destructive disorders.  Even when a parent recovers, it does not guarantee that the anxiety, guilt, anger, shame, or other hurts suffered by the child will be addressed.  It does not have to be that way, and during Children of Alcoholics Week, February 12 – 18, we honor and celebrate both the children who are healing and those who have helped them. 

    We know what helps

    Caring adults can change the trajectory of an affected child’s life.  Religious leaders, neighbors, grandparents, relatives, teachers, coaches, counselors, and other trusted adults can  provide needed support to affected youth, thereby breaking the silence that reinforces their sense of shame, stigma, and isolation, whether or not their parents find recovery.   In other words, these potential influencers in a child’s life matter greatly.  They have the power and opportunity to make the critical difference.

    Alateen, the extraordinary 12-step program of peer support for adolescents and teens offered by Al-Anon, has brought the promise of recovery to young people with addicted parents for generations.  The program is available across the country and is free (www.alateen.org).     Local organizations can play a critical role in educating and advocating for appropriate preventive interventions in community systems that serve children and youth in healthcare settings, in their faith organizations, and especially in supportive education programs in schools.

    As a caring society, we cannot and must not allow family alcohol and drug use problems to be transmitted to the next generation.  The outlook for people in recovery has never been better than it is today, and now there is greater recognition of the need to engage family members for their own recovery work so that they too can heal from the impact addiction has had on them individually and on the family system.  Working together, we can address parental alcohol and drug use problems and the adverse consequences they have for children and families.

    More information can be found at the National Association for Children and Alcoholics web site (www.nacoa.org), to include a special video message from ONDCP Director Gil Kerlikowske.

    Sis Wenger is the President and CEO of the National Association for Children of Alcoholics

  • The National Drug Control Budget

    Today, the President released a Budget that will help build a nation where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules.  As he said during the State of the Union, these are not Democratic or Republican values, but American values.

    The drug issue is also one that transcends party lines.  Whether you have someone in your family who struggles with a substance abuse disorder, have been a victim of drug-related crime, or have to pay for the healthcare or criminal justice consequences - all of us bear the burden of this public health and safety challenge. 

    With this in mind, the President’s National Drug Control Budget continues to support evidence-based programs and policies that seek to reduce drug use and its consequences in the United States.  Click here to read Highlights from the National Drug Control Budget.

  • Georgia Governor Nathan Deal Invests in Drug Courts, Treatment

    One year ago, Governor Nathan Deal was sworn into office with Georgia ranking among states with the highest incarceration and lowest rehabilitation rates in the country.  Recognizing that the “revolving door” of addiction, crime, and recidivism has resulted in overcrowded jails, stretched budgets, and damage to families and communities, Governor Deal created the Criminal Justice Reform Council to develop comprehensive solutions to increase the effectiveness of the Georgia Corrections System.     

    In Governor Deal’s January 10th, 2012 “State of the State” speech, the Governor doubled down on these efforts, recommending $5.7 million to build Residential Substance Abuse Centers and an additional $10 million to support the creation of new Drug, DUI, mental health, and Veterans Courts.  According to the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, drug courts have been shown to reduce recidivism by as much as 35% over other sentencing options.   

    As the Governor remarked in his speech, "We must make this investment.  If we fail to treat the addict's drug addiction, we haven't taken the first step in breaking the cycle of crime — a cycle that destroys lives and wastes taxpayer resources."  Through these efforts, Georgia has joined the Office of National Drug Control Policy and other state and local jurisdictions across the country in supporting innovative approaches to criminal justice reform.  These reforms have been shown to improve the cost-effectiveness of the justice system, improve public safety outcomes, and give individuals a second chance at becoming contributing members of their community.

    Katie Greene is Deputy Associate Director of the Office of Intergovernmental and Public Liaison

  • NIDA Releases New Guide for Those Seeking Treatment

    The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has recently released a new guidebook to help those in need of treatment make the right decisions regarding their care.  The guide, “Seeking Drug Abuse Treatment: Know What to Ask”, provides evidence-based information on various types of treatment that are effective in addressing substance use disorders.

    The publication provides information regarding five key questions an individual should ask when searching for a treatment program:

    1. Does the program use treatments backed by scientific evidence?

    2. Does the program tailor treatment to the needs of each patient?

    3. Does the program adapt treatment as the patient's needs change?

    4. Is the duration of treatment sufficient?

    5. How do 12-step or similar recovery programs fit into drug addiction treatment?

    The Obama Administration is committed to reducing the demand for illegal drugs in the United States through a comprehensive approach that includes prevention, early intervention, treatment, and recovery support.  More information on treatment for substance use disorders can be found on ONDCP’s Treatment and Recovery page.

  • Governor Beshear Addresses Rx Abuse in his State of the State Address

    On January 4th, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear delivered his State of the Commonwealth address where he outlined his legislative priorities for the next year. One of those priorities includes taking on prescription drug abuse. According to the Governor, more Kentuckians die from prescription drug overdoses than from car accidents.  He also cited a poll that found that 32 percent of Kentuckians have a family member or friend who has suffered because of prescription drug abuse.

    To address this challenge, Governor Beshear is partnering with Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway and Speaker of the Kentucky House Gregory D. "Greg" Stumbo to call upon their legislature to strengthen Kentucky’s current prescription drug monitoring system.  Last year, the Governor also created an interstate task force with the Governors of Ohio, Tennessee, and West Virginia to find solutions to address the growing prescription drug problem in the region.

    We look forward to working with Kentucky to address this serious challenge.  That is why last year Director Kerlikowske accompanied various Members of Congress and interested congressional staff during visits to Louisville, Lexington, London, and Pikeville to share the latest information on the prescription drug abuse epidemic with officials from the public and private sectors and offer Federal assistance in combating the problem.  

    There is no single solution to tackle this epidemic.  It takes a balanced and comprehensive approach at each level of government.  The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a shining example of what can be accomplished when state and local leaders unite to address the issue of drug abuse in their communities. 

    Tony Martinez is Associate Director for Intergovernmental and Public Liaison

  • A Strategy to Reduce Drug Trafficking along our Northern Border

    Today, I joined Director Kerlikowske in releasing the Obama Administration’s first-ever National Northern Border Counternarcotics Strategy.  The Strategy outlines new actions that seek to reduce the two-way flow of illicit drugs between the United States and Canada by increasing coordination among Federal, state, local, and tribal enforcement authorities, enhancing intelligence-sharing among counterdrug agencies, and strengthening our Nation’s ongoing counterdrug partnerships and initiatives with the Government of Canada and Canadian law enforcement agencies.  The Strategy places a special emphasis on improving cooperation with tribal governments, devoting an entire chapter to enhancing law enforcement coordination on tribal lands.  By strengthening integrated cross-border law enforcement between our two countries, the Strategy supports a key area of cooperation outlined by President Obama and Prime Minister Harper in the Beyond the Border declaration.

    Ecstasy and marijuana are common drug threats to the United States from Canada, and the United States remains the primary transit country for cocaine from South America entering into Canada. The National Northern Border Counternarcotics Strategy provides an overview of current counterdrug efforts and identifies supporting actions aimed at disrupting this two-way flow of illegal drugs.  Some key strategic objectives outlined in the Strategy include:

    • Enhancing coordination of intelligence collection among U.S. Federal, state, local, tribal and Canadian law enforcement agencies with Northern border counternarcotics responsibilities.
    • Increasing the amount seized of illicit narcotics and drug proceeds crossing the Northern border by bolstering security at and between ports of entry.
    • Enhancing air and maritime domain awareness and response capabilities along the Northern border.
    • Developing resources and providing training opportunities to tribal law enforcement agencies.
    • Targeting the financial infrastructure of Transnational Criminal Organizations and increasing judicial cooperation with the Government of Canada.

    The National Northern Border Counternarcotics Strategy is the product of an extensive consultation process that began with hundreds of letters from ONDCP soliciting input from relevant Congressional delegations, the Government of Canada, and Federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement officials. As part of this process, I traveled to Seattle, Washington; Blackfeet Nation, Montana; Grand Forks, North Dakota; Detroit, Michigan; and upstate New York.  The consultation meetings in these locations included discussions with U.S. Attorneys, High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) directors, our Canadian counterparts, and panels of Federal, state, local, and tribal officials. The input we received at these meetings played a significant role in shaping the Strategy, and we look forward to continuing our partnership with law enforcement at all levels here and in Canada to reduce the threat that drug trafficking poses to communities on both sides of the border.

    Ben Tucker is Deputy Director for State, Local, and Tribal Affairs