Bringing More Science & Treatment Programs To The War On Drugs

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Alex DeMetrick has been a general assignment reporter with WJZ...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The war on drugs is mostly fought by law enforcement.

But Alex DeMetrick reports the Obama Administration is about to launch some softer weapons.

When police score a big drug bust, seized money is often displayed. But it can’t come close to what addiction costs this country.

“It’s $193 billion a year,” said Gil Kerlikowske, Director of National Drug Control Policy.

A lot of it is spent behind bars. The war on drugs takes a lot of prisoners and money to lockup.

“We’re not going to solve it by drug legalization, and we’re certainly not going to arrest our way out of this problem either,” said Kerlikowske.

So Wednesday the Obama Administration’s drug czar laid out some new tactics.

The strategy includes a fresh push for prevention programs aimed at the young, more drug courts to steer convicted addicts away from jail and into treatment, and in a big change, those treatment programs will be covered by health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

“And by expanding insurance coverage, it expands access to addiction treatment for the millions of Americans who do need that treatment,” Kerlikowske said.

Health centers like Johns Hopkins have made strides in deciphering the chemical components of the brain, developing therapies that treat addiction as an illness.

Not that police are going to stop making busts.

“Instead of the large number of arrests that we need to make, we need to get people more into cures for those additions so we have long-term sustainable results, as compared to locking people up,” said Commissioner Anthony Batts, Baltimore City Police.

The rate of drug use by Americans has dropped by nearly a third since the late 1970s.

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