|Official portrait of United States Director of National Drug Policy Gil Kerlikowske. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Speaking last Monday at the Betty Ford Center in Palm Springs, CA Kerlikowske asserted “this country hasn’t looked at recovery in a way that makes sense,” and that he needs to “use the bully pulpit of the White House in a way that brings it out into the open.”
What makes sense to Kerlikowske is to increase resources for addicts who need treatment and to focus on recovery. The former three-pronged White House drug policy focused on criminalization, prevention and treatment. Kerlikowske states that a new prong needs to be added to drug policy – resources for recovery.
Kerlikowske noted that nearly 21 million Americans need access to drug treatment but don’t receive it under current policies. He proposes new access by creating a voucher system to allow those in need to pay for treatment. He also stated that his agency will fight against the 38,000 state and local laws that prevent people from receiving the treatment they need.
Kerlikowske’s announcement of the shift in White House policy comes at a time when there is increased advocacy for people getting treatment they need, and treating drug addiction as a disease is a perfect first step to laws and resources opening up for those suffering.