McCaffrey Releases Final Substance Abuse Report
The number of young people, ages 12-17, who use illegal drugs rose from 5.7% in 1993 to 11.4% in 1997 and then dropped to 9% in 1999, according to the final report from White House drug policy director Barry McCaffrey, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. During a news conference yesterday at the White House, McCaffrey noted that the "main threats to young people" are increases in ecstasy and steroid use. McCaffrey "said the biggest impediment" in solving the nation's drug problems is "lack of treatment options for the more than five million Americans who are chronically addicted," the Journal-Constitution reports (Helm, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 1/5). In 1998, 57% of the nation's addicts who needed treatment did not get it," the report stated (Baltimore Sun, 1/5).
McCaffrey also said that Americans should change the way they view the country's efforts to curb illegal narcotics. He suggested that the term "war on drugs" is "misleading," adding that a better comparison would be to the fight to cure cancer. He said, "Although wars are expected to end, drug education, like all schooling, is a continuous process. Dealing with cancer is a long term proposition in which the symptoms of the illness must be managed while the root cause is attacked" (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 1/5). According to the report, "The moment we believe ourselves victorious and drop our guard, drug abuse will resurface in the next generation. To reduce the demand for drugs, prevention must also be ongoing" (Washington Post, 1/4). President Clinton said of the report, "Despite our progress, drugs continue to exact a tremendous toll on our nation. ... Too many young people are still using alcohol, tobacco and illegal substances" (Ross, Associated Press, 1/4). The report is McCaffrey's last, as he leaves office today. He will begin teaching a course on national security at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 1/5). The report is available at
http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/policy/ndcs.html. Note: You will need Adobe Acrobat to view the report.
As President-elect Bush transitions into office, substance abuse experts are "watching" to see how the new president will tackle drug and alcohol abuse treatment. Bush will be the first American president to publicly acknowledge a "struggle with alcohol," the Newark Star-Ledger reports. Bush, however, does not consider himself an alcoholic. The Star-Ledger reports that experts are unsure whether Bush will be "more sensitive" to substance abuse issues (Campbell, Newark Star-Ledger, 1/5). McCaffrey "said he is confident the incoming Bush administration is aware of the importance of treatment" for drug abuse. Ethan Nadelmann, director of the New York-based Lindesmith Center Drug Policy Foundation said that Bush should emphasize a "new bottom line" in drug policy, focusing on the consequences of drug use, rather than cutting the number of drug users (Associated Press, 1/5). Peter Kerr, spokesperson for the Phoenix House, a substance abuse treatment provider with centers in eight states, added that Bush "can really make a difference by what he says or does on this issue. He's a role model, and he sets the agenda for public discussion." But John Ramspacher, who counsels drug and alcohol addicts at the Princeton House North Brunswick, (a facility in New Jersey) said, "My gut feeling is that Bush will not step up and be an advocate. It will be a touchy subject he may want to sidestep" (Newark Star-Ledger, 1/5).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.