New Support for Methadone Maintenance Treatment through a Realistic National Drug Policy

>Our treatment system has struggled over the past 30 years against stigma and misunderstanding. While it has affected our treatment programs, the most stunning impact has been on our patients. Historically, Congress and the Administration have not provided support for our treatment system.

United States Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey delivered a keynote address during the National Institute on Drug Abuse Heroin Addiction Conference on September 29, 1997. Director McCaffrey stated: “Clearly, one of the most intractable of all drugs to deal with is heroin addiction. We have been willing to marshal the political will, the resources, to put people behind bars, but we have not been able to marshal the political will and resources to provide treatment in prison and for half-way houses on release. We have a failed social policy, and we are going to have to correct it. It seems to me that we have to get serious about methadone maintenance programs and LAAM or we cannot even hope to deal with this problem.”

General McCaffrey and ONDCP have taken on an important leadership role, which we believe will lead to a major expansion in methadone treatment throughout the United States. This expansion will be seen in the availability of new treatment programs and access to treatment through new systems of care, including general medical practice settings.

General McCaffrey is going to need the support of our field and our patient advocates as we educate individuals in state legislatures and in Congress. Director McCaffrey has already submitted a budget to Congress, which will include an additional $200 million in block grant support, targeted for treatment, including methadone maintenance. It is a point of profound change in supporting our treatment system and we commend General McCaffrey for his courageous leadership.

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