The White House

Office of the National Drug Control Policy

Readout of Director Kerlikowske Meeting on Integrating Substance Use Services in Primary Health Care

Washington, D.C. —Today, Gil Kerlikowske, Director of National Drug Control Policy, met with Dr. Howard Koh, Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services, Pamela Hyde, Administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and Mary Wakefield, Health Resources, and Services Administration (HRSA) Administrator, to discuss the importance of integrating substance abuse services into primary health care. During the meeting, which was also attended by representatives of various health care organizations, Director Kerlikowske stressed the importance of recognizing addiction as a disease, lifting the stigma of addiction, and expanding the workforce of doctors, physicians' assistants, counselors, nurses, and social workers available to adequately address this public health issue.

“Drug addiction is a chronic disease of the brain that can be successfully treated and prevented,” said Director Kerlikowske. “With the historic passage of the Affordable Care Act, we must now work to train future health care professionals on substance abuse issues and provide current healthcare professionals with additional training about the complex nature of the disease of addiction.”

The success of substance abuse services integration is largely dependent on the expansion of the addiction medicine workforce, as well as other health care workers on primary care teams. According to national surveys, approximately 7,000 addiction medicine doctors will be needed to care for an estimated 27 million patients who are dependent on substances by 2020.

For more information on national efforts to reduce drug use and its consequences visit: www.WhiteHouseDrugPolicy.gov