Obama Proposes Increased Funding for Treatment and Prevention

Source: JoinTogether News Feature, 2/5/2010

The Obama administration’s first stab at crafting its own national drug-control budget priorities (PDF) adds new funding for addiction treatment and prevention, but does little to close the huge gap between spending on drug supply- and demand-reduction efforts despite promises of a “balanced” strategy.

The FY2011 National Drug Control Budget released by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) on Feb. 1 includes a 13.4 percent increase in spending on alcohol and other drug prevention programs and a 3.7 percent increase for addiction treatment.

“The new budget proposal demonstrates the Obama administration’s commitment to a balanced and comprehensive drug strategy,” said ONDCP Director Gil Kerlikowske. “In a time of tight budgets and fiscal restraint, these new investments are targeted at reducing Americans’ drug use and the substantial costs associated with the health and social consequences of drug abuse.”

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However, the budget plan also calls for modest increases in spending on domestic law enforcement, interdiction, and international programs. So, the bottom line is that the Obama administration is proposing to spend 64 percent of its anti-drug budget on supply reduction efforts and just 36 percent on demand-reduction programs like drug treatment and prevention — numbers that are virtually indistinguishable from the ratio in the final drug budget produced under the Bush administration.

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The centerpiece of ONDCP’s demand-reduction plan is $150 million in “new funding for creating a national, community-based prevention system to protect adolescents; training and engaging primary health care to intervene in emerging cases of drug abuse; expanding and improving specialty addiction care; developing safe and efficient ways to manage drug-related offenders; and creating a permanent drug monitoring system.”

After years of declining budgets, the new prevention funding was welcomed by field advocates, although some found the allocation of resources somewhat puzzling. Notably, the budget plan calls for spending $9.5 million less on the Drug Free Communities (DFC) grant program, which had seen steady increases in recent years and is the most popular funding vehicle for community-based anti-drug coalitions nationally.

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The Obama administration is proposing a new “Successful, Safe and Healthy Students” grant program to replace the Department of Education’s Safe and Drug-Free Schools (SFDS) program, which has suffered significant funding cuts in recent years amid doubts about its effectiveness.

The new program — intended to create “an improved school climate that reduces drug use, violence, and harassment and improves school safety and students’ physical and mental well-being” —  would receive $283 million under the Obama plan, $107 million more than SFDS received in FY2010. Unlike the formula-based SDFS national grants, the Healthy Students grants will be awarded on a competitive basis to local education agencies.

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The budget would establish a $15-million Prevention Prepared Communities program, a pilot project intended to create a system of evidence-based youth prevention interventions lasting throughout adolescence. Another $5.6 million would be spent on supporting community prevention specialists who would assist in developing these projects in collaboration with the states, and $2 million would be used to evaluate the project.

Click here to read the entire story
Click here to read the “National Drug Control Budget FY 2011 Funding Highlights”
Click here for more information on the “Successful, Safe, and Healthy Students” grant program from DOE
Click here to read “Proposed FY 2011 Budget HHS Priority Programs” memo from NASADAD

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