Thursday, October 22, 2015

President Obama calls for investments in drug prevention

Yesterday's New York Times included an article about drug addiction and President Obama's response to an epidemic of drug overdose deaths. "More Americans now die every year from drug overdoses than they do from motor vehicle crashes," Mr. Obama said. "The majority of those overdoses involve legal prescription drugs. I don't have to tell you, this is a terrible toll." The article goes on to say that "Mr. Obama said that far greater investments needed to be made in the prevention and treatment of addiction. The president, a former smoker, said that the continued decline in smoking rates showed that progress could be made against addiction."

Here in King County, overall treatment admissions for heroin have increased significantly over the past two years. Treatment admissions for meth have also increased. Among young adults ages 18 to 29, heroin and prescription opioids (painkillers) are the primary drugs among those entering treatment programs. For teenagers under the age of 18, marijuana remains the primary drug among those entering treatment programs.

Source: University of Washington Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute.
Well-funded and evidence-based prevention programs and policies can reduce the need for treatment. Among Prevention WINS member organizations, Eckstein Middle School and Jane Addams Middle School implement evidence-based prevention programs among their students and families. Some of the programs depend on local funding, particularly the King County Mental Illness and Drug Dependency (MIDD) program, which is currently going through a community input and review process to determine what programs should maintain funding after next year. Without continued MIDD funding for school-based prevention programs, this national call for more prevention investments is virtually meaningless.

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