NASW and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy: Working Together on Drug Policy Reform

Jul 12, 2013

On July 8, NASW met David Mineta, Deputy Director for Demand Reduction at the
White House Office on National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).  Mr. Mineta
was appointed by President Obama to oversee the Office of Demand Reduction
(ODR) and is now working to implement evidenced-based drug policy reform
initiatives aimed at the fostering development of a national community-based
prevention system, and encouraging adoption of evidence-based programs and policies
to reduce the toll drug use takes on communities across the United
States.  Prior to joining the Obama Administration, Mr. Mineta also served
as a social worker in California, working to prevent drug use among young
people in the San Francisco Bay area.

In April, the Obama Administration released a science-based drug
policy that addresses the national drug challenge as a public health
issue, not just a criminal justice issue. The President’s blueprint for drug
policy in the U.S. – the 2013 National Drug Control Strategy – is
built upon the latest scientific research demonstrating that addiction is a
chronic disease of the brain that can be successfully prevented and treated,
and from which one can recover. Specifically, the Administration’s drug policy
reform plan directs Federal agencies to expand community-based efforts to
prevent drug use before it begins, empower healthcare and social workers to
intervene early at the first signs of a substance use disorder, expand access
to treatment for those who need it, and support the millions of Americans in

While law enforcement will always play a vital role in protecting our
communities from drug-related crime and violence, we simply cannot incarcerate
our way out of the drug problem. Put simply, an enforcement-centric “war on
drugs” approach to drug policy is counterproductive, inefficient, and costly.
At the other extreme, drug legalization also runs counter to a public health
and safety approach to drug policy. The more Americans use drugs, the higher
the health, safety, productivity, and criminal justice costs we all have to
bear. The Administration’s 21st century drug policy plan provides an evidence
based alternative to these approaches.

Social workers play a key role in President Obama’s plan to reduce drug use and
its consequences in America and NASW is proud to partner with the
Administration to engage social workers in supporting vital public health
approaches endorsed by the Administration including prevention, early
intervention, treatment, and recovery.  Data show progress is being
made.  The rate of overall drug use in the United States has declined by
roughly one-third since the late 1970s. To build on this progress and support
public health approaches to drug control, the Obama Administration has
requested more than $10 billion in FY 2014 for drug education programs and
support for expanding access to drug treatment for people suffering from
substance use disorders. This includes a requested increase of $1.4 billion to
expand treatment and prevention, the largest percentage increase in at least
two decades.

To learn more about national efforts to reform drug policy and the role social
workers can play visit:

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