Pubdate: Tue, 03 Aug 2004
Source: Daily Texan (TX Edu)
Copyright: 2004 Daily Texan
Author: David Kassabian
Cited: Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse
Bookmark: (Cannabis)
Bookmark: (Treatment)
Bookmark: (Youth)
Bookmark: (McCaffrey, Barry)


Effective youth drug-prevention programs and cost-effective treatment 
services need to be the focus of the ongoing war on drugs, a former U.S. 
drug czar said Monday.

Barry McCaffrey said community anti-drug programs are especially important 
and called for more emphasis on prevention and treatment, instead of 
enforcement, in front of roughly 1,000 substance-abuse service 
professionals at the annual Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse's 
drug policy conference.

The commission provides funding for prevention, intervention and treatment 
services through contracts with about 200 community organizations that 
serve more than 750,000 Texans each year, according to the organization's 
Web site.

Communities must support prevention and drug-treatment programs, because 
chronic substance abusers are a burden to taxpayers, McCaffrey said. The 
total cost to taxpayers of a lifetime drug abuser is about $2 million, he 

The vast majority of crime in the country relates to people dealing with 
some form of substance abuse, McCaffrey said.

"When you look at the men and women behind bars, particularly in the state 
prison system ... I suggest 80 percent of inmates are dominated by a 
substance-abusing lifestyle," he said. "That's not what is on the charge 
sheet - it was burglary, it was assault, it was fraud, it was male street 
prostitution - but the explanation is a life dominated by alcohol and 
chronic substance abuse, leading to unemployment."

McCaffrey, who was U.S. National Drug Policy Director from 1996 to 2001, 
stressed that the centerpieces of the Texas Commission's efforts against 
substance abuse should be education initiatives targeted at sixth-through 
eighth-graders and probation programs for repeat drug violators who commit 
non-violent offenses.

Efforts by federal and state agencies to fight drug use are not as 
effective as local programs, because drugs are more of a local problem, 
McCaffrey said.

"We have to make drugs socially unacceptable in the community," he said. "I 
don't think America has a drug problem; Texas doesn't have a drug problem; 
communities have drug problems."

College communities are also affected, McCaffrey said, because of poor 
anti-drug efforts by school administrators who are very reluctant to admit 
a problem exists.

"I think university leadership needs to be challenged by parents and 
political leadership - we put these kids under your control, and part of 
taking care of them is creating an environment where you will enforce laws 
on campus," McCaffrey said. "Alcohol and marijuana abuse on campus is why 
[students] get pregnant, they fall out of windows and injure themselves, 
they drop out of school, they don't live up to their potential; and college 
administrators have to face up to it and have a healthy sense of 

Key to facilitating substance-abuse treatment are recent advancements in 
pharmaceuticals, and health-care providers extending coverage to substance 
abusers, said Barry Karlin, CEO of CRC Health Corporation.

"In our view, the key is to get society to recognize that this is a 
disease," Karlin said. "There's a fundamental failure by society to see 
this as a disease; if it's not a disease, then people do not want to pay 
for it. One of the challenges all of us face is how to persuade society 
that substance abuse is a disease and the treatment works."

Because CRC, like half of the treatment providers in the country, is a 
private corporation, patients who don't have insurance must pay the full 
cost themselves or seek free treatment, which usually is less intensive.

"If you don't have the money to go to a private treatment center, it can be 
very difficult to access treatment; people may need a great deal of support 
than what can be offered," said Diana DiNitto, professor of social work at 
UT. "Inpatient treatment is not widely available to people who can't afford 
it. Some of these facilities need help in reaching a broader population, 
and they need resources, because the treatment dollars are stretched too thin." 
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