Drug Addiction Not a Moral Failing, Obama Administration Says

Drug Addiction Not a Moral Failing, Obama Administration Says

June 14th, 2012

From a moral failure to a chronic disease, the way that drug addiction is being viewed by the American government is changing drastically. Drug czar Gil Kerlikowske said in a speech Monday that drug addiction is “not a moral failing on the part of the individual,” but rather “a chronic disease of the brain that can be treated”–and our nation’s drug policies must reflect that.


Gil Kerlikowske, Drug Czar

Currently, there are over 38,000 state and local statutes that are affecting the lives of addicts in recovery, preventing them from such necessities as affordable housing and student loans. According to the National Institute of Justice, these statutes make it difficult for such individuals to remain drug-free.

“Obstacles like these prevent people from rejoining society, which isn’t helpful to anyone,” said Kerlikowske, who is currently serving his third year as director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Access to recovery programs and post-recovery support should be improved, Kerlikowske said, with an ultimate goal of “lifting the stigma surrounding those who suffer from drug addiction.”

The Obama administration is currently working to make drug addiction treatment more widely available for those who need it. In 2010, about 21 million people who needed addiction treatment were unable to receive it, according to a study by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The federal response has been to develop a voucher program providing addicts with funds to receive treatment and other necessities that will help them stay off drugs even after the recovery process. Recent healthcare policies have also required health companies to cover substance abuse treatment.

Kerlikowske hopes that these developments will mark a turning point in how drug addiction is handled by society. “By talking about addiction in the light of day — and by celebrating recovery out loud — we can help correct the misinformation and stigma that become obstacles for people who want to live healthy, productive lives,” he said.

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