Office of National Drug Control Policy

ONDCP Excel Fifty-Seventh Row

Action Item Number: 
Action Item Name: 
Align the Criminal Justice and Public Health Systems To Intervene With Heavy Users
Action Item Description: 

Years of research have demonstrated that heavy users, a minority of the drug using population, consume a disproportionately large share of illegal drugs.

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Yet research has also shown that in the general population, fewer than 10 percent of all diagnosed cases of addiction receive treatment. This treatment gap is of even greater concern with regard to heavy users, as they are often the most difficult population to bring into contact with treatment and recovery services. Traditional services often are ineffective or less effective with this population, considering the extent of their addiction problems. Nonetheless, the benefits of helping these individuals are significant. Beyond the obvious public health concern, these heavy users represent the economic underpinning of the illegal drug industry, supporting retailers, wholesalers, and suppliers who profit from daily purchases. Intervening with these heavy users would not only help bring treatment to those who need it most, but it would also serve to significantly undermine the illegal drug economy. Neither the criminal justice system nor the public health sector can address the challenges and special needs of heavy users by operating in isolation. DOJ and HHS will convene a study group with interagency partners to examine ways the Federal government can partner with State and local authorities to identify and assist heavy users in local markets through comprehensive, tailored interventions, including such measures as drug courts, in- and outpatient treatment, detoxification, rehabilitation, and enhanced probation and reentry services.

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