Pubdate: Tue, 25 Jul 2006
Source: Boston Globe (MA)
Copyright: 2006 Globe Newspaper Company
Author: Carla K. Johnson, Associated Press
Bookmark: (Cocaine)
Bookmark: (Heroin)
Bookmark: (Methadone)
Bookmark: (Treatment)


CHICAGO -- In its first report aimed at improving how the criminal 
justice system deals with drug addicts, the National Institute on 
Drug Abuse offered 13 guidelines yesterday for what works and what fails.

The key is understanding that drug addiction is a brain disease that 
affects behavior, and that it requires carefully monitored, 
personalized treatment, including access to medication such as 
methadone after the drug offender is released into society, the institute said.

"What does not work? Putting a person who is addicted to drugs in 
jail for five or 10 years and thinking that will cure him with no 
treatment," said Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the antidrug abuse 
agency. "The likelihood of that person relapsing is very high."

The guidelines urge a mix of traditionally liberal and conservative approaches.

The institute argues that prisons and court-ordered treatments don't 
use methadone and other addiction medications enough. At the same 
time, the guidelines support pressuring offenders into treatment as a 
condition of probation, and they advocate urine testing during 
treatment to track and prevent relapses.

"The criminal justice system offers an extraordinary opportunity to 
help people with drug problems," Volkow said.

Every $1 spent on drug treatment programs also saves the nation an 
estimated $4 in crime costs, she said. The annual estimated national 
cost for drug crimes is $107 billion.

The drug treatments Cheryl Cline started in an Illinois prison after 
using crack cocaine for nine years probably saved the 29-year-old's 
life. This week, she is marking her third drug-free year, and her 
life has been turned around.

While she was using, Cline said, she lived in an abandoned building 
or a car, and she shoplifted to support her habit. Now she works as a 
waitress, has reunited with her family, and is studying to be a drug counselor.

"I'd like people to know that everybody deserves an opportunity for 
treatment, but when you're on the outside and running wild, most 
people won't take it," said Cline, who lives in Aurora. "Prison is 
one of the best places to do it because you are confined. You have 
nothing but time on your hands."

Maia Szalavitz, a drug policy specialist not involved with the 
report, said the guidelines are excellent. Methadone is used rarely 
in the criminal justice system despite evidence that it helps people 
addicted to opioids such as heroin, she said.

She faulted the system's current reliance on 12-step programs modeled 
after Alcoholics Anonymous, which she said works only for some people.
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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman