One of Denise Cullen’s primary goals as an activist following the tragic loss of her son to drugs is to change the way people view drug addiction and drug addicts: “It’s a health issue, not a criminal issue,” she says.
I totally agree. In both of my books I have stated that addiction is not a crime and it should not be treated as a crime. The stuff addicts do to support their habits is an outgrowth of their addiction, their medical condition, and locking them up with hardened criminals can’t be the solution.
In some related good news, an article in the Sac Bee on April 23 explained that California has cut the number of state prisoners incarcerated for drug related crimes in half during the last two years.
Jeffery Callison (now corrections spokesman, and once Insight show-host) is quoted in the article as saying “Putting offenders who have committed lower-level crimes in prison for long periods is not generally the best way to spend tax dollars and protect public safety… Keeping lower-level drug offenders closer to their families and communities where they can take advantage of local programs and receive drug treatment makes more sense than sending them to prison where they are surrounded by more hardened criminals.” (Sac Bee, page A3, 4/23/13)
As you know, I went undercover to bust a “big fish” and allow my son the opportunity to go to rehab rather than prison. I’m happy to see the numbers of incarcerated drug offenders go down.
Turns out, the Federal Government and California are on the same track. President Obama’s 2013 National Drug Control Strategy de-emphasizes the criminal aspect in favor of acknowledging the science behind the belief that drug addiction is “not a moral failing but rather a disease of the brain that can be prevented and treated.” Even Gil Kerlikowske, the director of National Drug Control Policy acknowledges: “We must address drug use as a public health issue, not just a criminal justice issue.”
And, regardless of how you feel overall about Obama-care, it contains a provision that requires insurance companies to cover addiction treatment, something Avi Israel and I discussed on my radio show. Insurance covers the drugs that addict you, but currently has little or no coverage to treat you once you are addicted. We need much in the way of reform, such as:
- Prescription Drug Monitoring (PDM) programs mandated to make sure the people who truly need prescription drugs for treatment get them while those who have become addicted or are abusing the drugs are exposed;
- Mandatory training for Doctors who prescribe these drugs—training that doesn’t come from Big Pharma who is pushing the sales of their own product;
- We need drugs like Hydrocodone moved to a schedule 2 drug to rein in over-prescribing, abuse, addiction and death;
- We need a system in place to recapture unused or unwanted drugs to remove dangerous addictive and deadly drugs from the medicine cabinets of our neighborhood homes, and keep them out of our land fills and water supply.
- We need to stop the advertising of Pharmaceutical drugs as the US is one of two countries in the world which allows this. We do not need a commercial to diagnose our medical problems.
- Mostly, we need the FDA to wake up and protect the citizens of this country and be the watchdog agency it was designed to be, not the lapdog of Big Pharma that it has been for years. Dr Throckmorton and Dr. Rappaport of the FDA need to listen to the cries of parents who have buried their children, not take “honorariums” (monetary bribes) from Big Pharma while they are entrusted to protect we the people!
Reform and changes are needed because the environment has changed. No reform is a cure-all, but if it helps reduce the staggering number of deaths, then it is necessary.
This just makes sense, doesn’t it? Tell me what you think.