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Today, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy released its 2013 strategy, which included mental health and public health initiatives. Photo by ONDCP

Today, the White House announced mental health and other public health initiatives as cornerstones of its latest national drug control strategy.

Set forth by the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy, the 2013 Strategy includes more than 100 specific actions to reduce drug use and its consequences, while expanding prevention.

“This plan represents a smarter approach to drug policy in America, one based on the premise that addiction is a disease that can be prevented and treated,” said R. Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. “We must address drug use as a public health issue, not just a criminal justice issue.”

The strategy takes a public health approach to drug policy, with new objectives including:

  • expanded benefits for mental health and substance use disorders through a new rule made possible by the Affordable Care Act;
  • requirements for insurers to cover treatment for substance use disorders as they would for any other chronic diseases, promoting health care interventions before use becomes abuse; and
  • increased community programs to prevent serious drug-related crime, while diverting non-violent drug offenders into treatment — rather than prison.

Illicit drug use has declined dramatically in recent years, according to ONDCP. Since 2006, cocaine and methamphetamine use has dropped by approximately 50 and 33 percent, respectively.

As a new initiative, Strategy aligns recovery with prevention — for current and future generations.

“For too long, millions of Americans in recovery from addiction and their families, friends and supporters — including young people like us — were absent from the debate about drug policy,” said Devin Fox, executive director of Young People in Recovery. “Today, we are a powerful and growing movement, achieving real progress in lifting the stigma associated with substance use disorders and removing barriers to sustained recovery.”