Drug prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation programs are typically the first government programs to get cut when times are tough. Drug education and prevention programs are needed now more than ever, especially when you consider the heroin epidemic in the New England area and the rise in methamphetamine use.
Now, many Americans are saying they favor treatment over punishment for those who suffer from drug or alcohol addictions. Education about drug abuse and efforts to prevent drug use are important factors when it comes to treating America’s unfortunate love affair with drugs. The country also needs more treatment options, especially for those who can’t afford expensive rehab facilities.
As the government cut back on spending, many social programs found themselves without any money for funding. National drug prevention programs and funding for substance abuse research took a hit. Since these programs do not create revenue or immediately save money, they were often eliminated or downsized before other programs. However, drug enforcement budgets did not see any cuts.
This CNN article mentions that local, state, and federal government agencies spent nearly $500 billion in 2005 on substance abuse related issues. However, only a tiny fraction of that amount was spent on prevention and treatment. The article cited reports from Columbia University’s National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, which found that 95% of a $373.9 billion budget was spent trying to rectify the consequences of substance abuse in the healthcare system and in the criminal justice system. Only 1% of the money was spent on research and interdiction while a mere 2% was spent on prevention and treatment. For every dollar spent on prevention and treatment, more than $50 is spent on public programs aimed at addressing and solving the effects of substance abuse through law enforcement, the courts, and the healthcare system.
Although the death toll from drug overdoses is rising, more local and state governments are looking to cut funding for early prevention efforts, including the well-known D.A.R.E. program. This article is about a town in Michigan which cut spending on their D.A.R.E. program.
The St. Clair County Sheriff’s Office in Michigan will cease to provide Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) programs to eleven schools in the county. Deputy Steve Campau, the Public Information Officer, mentioned that a series of cuts over the past years had led to the demise of the program which costs about $96,000 a year. According to the article, multiple other counties have also cut their own D.A.R.E. programs, but they replaced it with other programs often led by the local city governments. Deputy Campau stated, “We think that D.A.R.E. is very valuable, but there’s only so much money in the budget, and we have to fund the road patrol to make sure the general public is safe.” He then added that, “prevention programs are being cut everywhere.”
It’s not just happening in Michigan. Reduced funding all over the country means that more and more prevention and education programs are being cut. The big question is: how will this affect the future of young Americans? Will we see more and more addicts in the future? Only time will answer these questions for us.