Do You Think the Government Should Do More to Help Drug Addicts?

Written by Chloe Nicosia

A Look at Why the Government Should Do More to Help Drug Addicts

With meth abuse still at a level that most consider to be an epidemic, and with the president recently declaring that opioid abuse is a national crisis, it’s understandable why many feel the government should do more to help drug addicts. The “war on drugs” started in the early 1970s under President Nixon, and yet it feels like we’ve made little progress in over four and a half decades.

Why The Government Should Help Drug Addicts

The medical community now largely accepts the “disease model” of addiction. The primary distinction is that addiction is looked at as something that medical treatment should be readily available for, rather than something that is regarded as a personal or moral failing that individuals should be expected to deal with on their own.

If addiction is a disease, and if the disease is widespread, then it is a public health concern. Public health concerns are the responsibility of the government to address. Unfortunately, addiction treatment has become caught up in the nation’s contentious and politically divided battle over health care. Without taking any political sides, however, a recent Kaiser poll from 2016 makes clear that most Americans at least believe that substance abuse is a very serious problem and that treatment should be readily available. The majority of Americans also believe that both the government and the medical industry are not doing enough to address this problem, especially when it comes to opioid addiction.

Regardless of whether or not you subscribe to the disease model of addiction, it is a point of fact that people do not always start using drugs just to party or out of personal irresponsibility. Self-medication for untreated conditions, dealing with high stress, and peer or spouse pressure are all reasons that people may turn to substance abuse out of desperation. Many of today’s heroin addicts also got their start with a legal prescription for opioid pain medications from their doctor. When you look at the opioid epidemic by state, you keep seeing this same pattern over and over again.

What Is The Government Currently Doing For Drug Addicts?

For those who don’t have insurance through work or some other secondary source, the Affordable Care Act requires that marketplace providers of Medicare and Medicaid plans cover a spectrum of addiction treatment including evaluation, testing, clinic visits and related medication. These plans are also required to have some degree of assistance in obtaining inpatient treatment. Also, a wide range of fully paid treatment options are available to military veterans through the Veterans Affairs department, regardless of their health insurance status.

Aside from providing subsidized health insurance to the needy and direct care for veterans, the government’s main form of assistance in substance abuse treatment is in providing grants (through organizations such as SAMSHA and NIDA) that enable low-cost and subsidized treatment centers to operate throughout the country.

Things The Government Could Do To Help More

Formally recognizing opioid abuse as a national crisis is a good first step. The government can build on this by funding more treatment programs, investing in educational programs and contributing to the development of abuse-resistant opioid pain medications, as well as entirely new pain medications that don’t have addictive potential. Opioid epidemic statistics suggest that this would be highly effective.

More effective intervention on the supply side would also be helpful. The two drugs that are most rampantly abused at present, meth and heroin, are virtually entirely supplied by criminal cartels in Mexico and distributed throughout the country by gangs.

Given the ease of obtaining low-cost but extremely potent drugs on the street, there is clearly a lot of work to still be done on this front.

Increased funding for mental health treatment would also be effective, as much of substance abuse and addiction originates from self-medication to treat mental and emotional pain that has never been properly addressed.

To learn more about addiction treatment options and how to get help, call 1.800.429.7690 to speak with one of our addiction specialists or visit our site at