The Evolution Of Obama’s Drug Addiction And Mental Health Policy

Drug Policy Innovation In Disease Diagnosis

As part of the ACA rollout, President Obama’s 21st-century drug policy strategy for America was released in 2012. It is designed to take drug counseling and addiction treatment health care measures further through progressive public health and public safety strategies.

The scope of the new policies is quite broad: they cover addiction diagnosis, mental health counseling, all forms of drug testing, addiction recovery, dual-diagnoses and much more.

Innovation In Disease Diagnosis’ main aim was to reduce drug use and provide better healthcare for those affected.

It all came about following new research into neuroscience and drug addiction.

This policy is essentially a new way of looking at how we define a ‘disease’. There were 113 actions in total, with the Obama administration requesting more than $10 billion in funding.

The policy & the funding was spread out across three essential issues:

  1. The need to see addiction as a ‘disease of the mind’, rather than a behavioral issue
  2. The understanding that addicts can recover and regain their lives with the right help
  3. The need to stop the vicious cycle of drug users turning to crime, being incarcerated and re-offending.

The first and second aims are important for providing adequate drug addiction programs that see people as patients rather than offenders.

There was a clear goal to tackle the issue through healthcare, youth outreach programs, and other community level systems.

The plan built upon previous laws, such as the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010. This worked to ensure safe disposal of used needles and unused drugs.

As for the approach to offenders, it was too easy to choose incarceration for those that committed low-level offenses. Addicts were treated as the criminal, not as ill. This new drug policy meant a plan to send offenders into treatment options rather than the easy option of jail. There was also a plan to combat trafficking on the Southwest border. This not only focused on decreasing availability, but it also focused on the criminal actions of the supplier, not the addict.

At the time, the policy was welcome by the American Society of Addiction Medicine who said, “we support their efforts to put in place evidence-based public health answers that will improve bring those suffering.” There were hopes that this was a significant turnaround in the viewpoint on drug addition.

This could only lead to greater accessibility of treatment options, better drug testing procedures, less stigma and a more compassionate outlook.Four years have passed since this medication policy on health care for addicts and amendments have been made.

2014 Saw An Update To The Policy, But The Aims Remained Pretty Much The Same.

Drug and Mental Health Policy

Two years later, the Obama Administration updated their drug policy. This allowed them to highlight their ongoing goals for drug welfare and healthcare in the US.

They were keen to talk about some of the improvements that were within the past four years in the early stages of this 21st-century program.

These were positive steps on each of the three areas of interest.


Mandatory minimum sentences were refined to improve prospects for low-level offenders. This means addressing the disparity between sentences for certain forms. There was also the first elimination of a mandatory minimum sentence in four decades.

Appropriate attitudes towards health care

Access to treatment options is expanding so that millions of patients can see. There was also a strong focus on reducing prescription drug abuse.

Resources For Recovery

The administration achieved what they called a “historic” focus on recovery, including the expansion of Naloxone use. They removed a ban on federal funding for needle exchanges to help addicts further.

On July 9, 2014, the National Drug Control Policy released the 2014 National Drug Control Strategy. Here there are four clear aims for the years ahead. There is a new tier on education, with the aim to improve drug use prevention. The other goals remain the same. There is still a desire to expand into treatment areas, improve justice and see recovery as a viable option.

President Obama summed it up at the time by saying that the administration was “committed to an equitable public health and public safety approach to drug policy” He added that the approach was “based on science, not ideology—and scientific research suggests that we have made real progress.”

What Happens To The 21st-Century Drug Policy In 2017 And Beyond?

 Innovation In Disease Diagnosis

The 21st-century drug policy was a Democratic policy with a broad focus on ongoing care and support. This means continuous improvements in health care, drug testing, and addiction support.

The upcoming election will have a massive impact on the future of the policy with a Trump or Clinton Administration in charge.


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