Drug Prevention and Control

Spring Forum 2010: April 9, 2010

Running time: 1:04

Gil Kerlikowske,
director, Office of National Drug Control Policy, Washington, D.C.
Representative Pat George,
Representative Janice Pauls, Kansas
Cindy M. Perry,
executive director, Select Committee on Children and Youth, Tennessee 

ONDCP Drug Czar Addresses NCSL Committees 

Gil Kerlikowske, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, spoke to NCSL’s Health Committee, Human Services and Welfare Committee and Law and Criminal Justice Committee, at the NCSL Spring Forum of the Standing Committees, in Washington, D.C., on April 9, 2010. He told lawmakers and staff that ONDCP is emphasizing the importance of treatment and prevention in addressing the nation’s drug control needs. He said recent federal health care reform encourages drug treatment as part of primary care, which he says is a positive approach to meeting individual needs in a cost-effective way. 

Kerlikowske noted treatment is not only half the cost of incarceration, it also allows people to go back to their families, work and contribute to society. He said ONDCP will encourage a strong link between criminal justice and treatment, which many states are pursuing via drug courts and other diversion policies.

An important initiative of ONDCP is to help address drugged driving, Kerlikowske said. Four times as many people on a typical weekend evening are driving under the influence of an illicit or prescription drug as those who are alcohol impaired, he said. Efforts to identify, test and treat these offenders are not on par with strides made in addressing drunken driving. ONDCP is facilitating efforts, for example, to train law enforcement in drug recognition techniques. 

Kerlikowske underscored the seriousness of the nation’s problem with prescription drug abuse. This country experiences more deaths from overdoses than from gun shot wounds. In 16 states, more people die of overdoses than in car crashes. He said that prescription drug monitoring programs are helping identify people who abuse prescription drugs as part of the doctor-patient relationship.

Kerlikowske said “pain clinics” that churn out drugs like Oxycontin and “pharm parties” at which kids swap and consume prescription drugs are aspects of prescription drug abuse that require intergovernmental attention. In addition, he said ONDCP is interested in partnering with states to address methamphetamine production and use. He spoke of dangerous and destructive methamphetamine production, especially in areas of the West and Midwest, and the opportunity in states across the nation to improve regulation of substances used to manufacture the drug.

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