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The White House
For Immediate Release

Obama Administration Officials Highlight New Approach to Drug Control Policy Before Congress

- White House Drug Policy Director Gil Kerlikowke and Deputy Director Ben Tucker Tout New Efforts to Reduct Prescription Drug Abuse and Alternatives to Incarceration -

WASHINGTON – Today, Gil Kerlikowske, Director of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and Benjamin B. Tucker, ONDCP Deputy Director of State, Local, and Tribal Affairs laid out the Administration’s plan to prevent and reduce prescription drug abuse and to better utilize the criminal justice system to reduce drug use and its consequences.

Director Kerlikowske testified before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Health, on prescription drug abuse and recommended actions to address the “fastest-growing drug problem in the country.”

“Prescription drug take-back programs, along with prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs), play an important role in a comprehensive effort to reduce prescription drug diversion and abuse,” said Gil Kerlikowske. “The Administration and Congress are making important strides to refine laws and regulations that will effectively address the public health epidemic of prescription drug abuse.”

In his testimony, Director Kerlikowske highlighted data released last week that revealed a more than four-fold increase in substance abuse treatment admissions, specifically for prescription drug addiction, for those aged 12 and over between 1998 and 2008, and stressed the need for concerted Federal, state, and local action.

The President’s National Drug Control Strategy is evidence-based, and addresses both the public health and safety challenges posed by drug abuse and its consequences. The Strategy emphasizes prevention, treatment, recovery, and enforcement designed to reduce drug use and drug-related consequences. It seeks to empower individuals and organizations at all levels to better address emerging drug problems like prescription drug abuse, but also focuses attention on how best to intervene and treat people currently struggling with substance abuse.

Benjamin B. Tucker ONDCP Deputy Director of State, Local, and Tribal Affairs, testified today before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Domestic Policy Subcommittee, on alternatives to incarceration for those with underlying substance abuse problems.

In his testimony, Deputy Director Tucker, a former New York City police officer, stressed the importance of breaking the cycle of drug use, and crime. “The Administration is shepherding policies that will transform systems and foster partnerships to bring together a wide range of services that will help people involved in the criminal justice system build and maintain a substance-free lifestyle, while also reducing recidivism. As reflected in the National Drug Control Strategy, combining effective and fair enforcement with robust prevention and treatment efforts will enable us to be successful in addressing drug use and its consequences,” Deputy Director Tucker said.

The FY 2011 Budget proposal includes $10 million for prosecution-led drug treatment alternatives to incarceration and $10 million to address the gaps in substance abuse treatment for adults under community supervision. Furthermore, the Strategy highlights several key principles to breaking the cycle of drug use, crime, delinquency, and incarceration including: providing communities with the capacity to prevent drug-related crime; developing infrastructure to promote alternatives to incarceration when appropriate; and using community corrections programs to monitor and support drug-involved offenders.

“Drug use and its consequences affect American families and communities in personal and painful ways,” Director Kerlikowske said. “The National Drug Control Strategy, by facilitating innovations in the criminal justice system, as well as effective approaches to emerging threats like prescription drug abuse, is a concerted plan of action to reduce drug use and its consequences.”