D.A.R.E. Archives -
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President Trump Plan for Opioid Crisis Sounds Like ‘Just Say No’

President Trump Plan for Opioid Crisis Sounds Like ‘Just Say No’

President Donald Trump promised a “major briefing” via his favorite publication… twitter… this Tuesday morning. Many people were expecting something big related to the request from the national opioid commission to declare a state of emergency for the opioid epidemic. But alas, this was not the case. President Trump made no announcement on new policies in the fight against opioids. Instead, he made a comment that sounds a lot like Nancy Reagan telling everyone to ‘just say no’ in the 80s, and we all know how well that worked.

This is concerning to so many who put stock in President Trump when he said he would make fighting the opioid epidemic a priority. Yet, so many feel like he is absent on the subject when it comes to establishing any initiatives or taking proactive action.

President Trump vowed on Tuesday that the United States will “win” the battle against the heroin and opioid outbreak. But instead of presenting a plan to support and reinforce treatment initiatives and other programs, the focus on his comments were claims to-

 “- protect innocent citizens from drug dealers that poison our communities.”

The closer we look at the administration’s latest actions, the more it seems like this administration prefers the failed ‘just say no’ and War on Drugs mentality than actually offering a progressive answer.

President Trump Says Drugs are Bad

Probably the one part people are most annoyed with is when President Trump stated:

“Maybe by talking to youth and telling them ‘no good, really bad for you in every way’, but if they don’t start it will never be a problem.”

I feel like most of us did a good old fashion face-palm on this one… because DUH! We know drugs are bad (thanks Mr. Mackey) and we know talking to kids about drugs matters. That is why programs like Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) have been around for decades. However, we also know from D.A.R.E.’s track record that this kind of program hasn’t been particularly successful at stopping drug use either!

While giving this latest briefing from his 17 day “working vacation” from his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, President Trump also stated:

“The best way to prevent drug addiction and overdose is to prevent people from abusing drugs in the first place,”

“I’m confident that by working with our health care and law enforcement experts, we will fight this deadly epidemic and the United States will win.”

Now while it is true that addiction can’t technically develop if someone never uses substances, this still sounds a lot like ‘just say no’, which we all know does not work as a drug policy. Prevention is key and maybe with more detail about Trump’s plan on how to prevent drug use we could see where this comment is going. But as it stands, these comments just sound like more of the same.

After all, Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Session does seem to agree with the old War on Drugs tactics. Why, we may never know.

It is incredibly frustrating to advocates and experts involved in the addiction recovery community, as well as for citizens all across the nation who are hoping for some real change. Why- because we know that ‘just say know’ failed. We tried to just tell kids that drugs are bad for them and not to do them, but the epidemic still happened! And needless to say, just saying no is not going to help us with the overwhelming rates of addiction, overdose and death that we are already dealing with.

Far beyond that, understanding and overcoming addiction is about a lot more than just knowing its bad for you.

Is President Trump Ignoring Suggestions?

The president himself appointed the opioid commission, chaired by Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Only a week ago the panel urged President Trump to “declare a national emergency”, citing the tragically high overdose and death rates across the country. In the report issued by the opioid commission there were numerous recommendations that many were hopeful would come to fruition as soon as possible. Among these recommendations there is:

  • Expanding treatment facilities across the country
  • Educating and equipping doctors about the proper way to prescribe pain medication
  • Equipping all police officers with the anti-overdose remedy Naloxone

All of these suggestions seem like they would make a pretty big impact on the current predicament. Empowering treatment providers in more of the U.S. can help get more addicts off the streets and introduce them to the option of getting well. Putting more power in the hands of doctors to safely and effectively provide medications could help reduce the staggeringly high prescription drug abuse rates. Giving the overdose antidote to more first responders could save so many more lives.

And yet, President Trump did not address a single one of these recommendations, or event suggest that one of them was on his current to-do list.

Instead, he went back to his go-to argument for solving all of our problems… our borders. Again, President Trump doesn’t give any indication as to planning for expanding treatment or Naloxone access. Nope… he just promises to be-

 “-very, very strong on our Southern border.”

Did he talk about training doctors in order to avoid issues with prescription drugs? Nope. Instead he claimed:

“We’re talking to China, where certain forms of man-made drug comes in and it is bad,”

Yes, again we understand… ‘drugs are bad… mmmkay.’ But seriously, this is not the first time that this administration has shifted the focus from helping treat those who have suffered from drug addiction to ‘tough on crime’ tactics and border security. But time and time again experts in law enforcement and drug policy insist that the answer is not in attacking the supply side, but in treating those who suffer now.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price told reporters they haven’t taken anything off the table, but that they believe at this point the necessary resources and focus can be addressed without an official declaration. However, looking at what declaring the emergency would have done, why would doing it be a bad thing?

Why a National Emergency Matters

The reality is, we are all well aware of the severity of the opioid epidemic by now. However, declaring a national emergency does actually count for something.

If President Trump were to declare a national emergency it would speak volumes to the scope of the issue on a national platform. Also, coming from one of the highest authorities in the nation, it would have opened the door to making those other suggestions happen.

According to Juliet Sorensen, a professor at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, Trump’s declaration could have:

  • Allowed the executive branch to direct federal funds to expand treatment facilities
  • President Trump would have also been able to direct funds to equip police with Naloxone
  • Allowed him to provide the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Agency and other law enforcement agencies with more money to focus on the manufacturers and smugglers of dangerous drugs like fentanyl

But maybe one of the biggest impacts it could have had would have been on the rest of the House and the Senate. Fighting the opioid epidemic is one of the very few topics in politics right now that has bipartisan congressional support. Declaring a national emergency could give President Trump the perfect opportunity to unite both sides of the aisle and create cooperation and momentum.

This is a vital issue that should absolutely be a priority. Therefore, the idea of returning to an archaic, outdated philosophy concerning drug use is annoying at the least and potentially terrifying for some. The epidemic shows no sign of stopping anytime soon. Maybe it is time to do more than just tell people drugs are bad. If we want to do some good, we need to support each other with compassion.

Palm Healthcare Company values compassionate, comprehensive and innovative holistic treatment opportunities to help save the lives of those that are suffering, and we encourage professionals, community leaders and family members to get involved in helping change lives for the better. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.

CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

Drug Possession Penalties May Be Reduced In New Oregon Bill

Drug Possession Penalties May Be Reduced In New Oregon Bill

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A new Oregon bill is headed straight to the governor’s desk.

If passed, the bill would reclassify certain illicit drugs from a felony to a misdemeanor. The goal is to reduce the state’s prison population.The bill would also increase access to treatment for those without prior felonies or convictions for drug possessions, the Washington Post reports.

The bill would reduce penalties for possession of heroin, cocaine, meth and other illicit substances. The bill was already approved by the state legislature and now awaits the signature of the governor.

“We are trying to move policy towards treatment rather than prison beds,” said state Senator Jackie Winters, co-chair of the Public Safety Committee. “We can’t continue on the path of building more prisons when often the underlying root cause of the crime is substance use.”

Also included in the bill is a new initiative that will track the effects of law enforcement policies and procedures by collecting data on the demographic of Oregonians stopped by police. This initiative aims to identify any potential racist practices and address the disproportionate number of black Oregonians behind bars.

According to a 2016 report, by the Sentencing Project, blacks make up less than 2% of the state’s population; yet represent more than 9% of the state prison population as of 2014. Furthermore, the report found that the incarceration rates for black individuals are 5.6 times that of whites.

“Too often, individuals with addiction issues find their way to the doorstep of the criminal justice system when they are arrested for possession of a controlled substance,” says Kevin Campbell, executive director of the Oregon Association Chiefs of Police. “Unfortunately, felony convictions in these cases also include unintended and collateral consequences including barriers to housing and employment and a disparate impact on minority communities.”

Still, some lawmakers are wary of the bill and disagree with its “soft on crime” approach.  State Senator Betsy Johnson, a Democrat who voted against the bill, said the shift toward decriminalization promotes a “hug-a-thug policy.”

The bill is headed towards the desk of Governor Kate Brown who will ultimately have the final say. In the past, Governor Brown has expressed support for the bill.

“While we still have much work ahead, HB 2355 represents an important step towards creating a more equitable justice system to better serve all Oregonians,” said Brown. “Addressing disparities that too often fall along racial and socioeconomic lines should not be political issues.”

While states like Oregon are attempting to address these disparities, on the federal level, things are headed in a different direction. Recently, Attorney General Jeff Sessions attended a D.A.R.E. training conference in Texas. While at the conference, Jeff Sessions praised the D.A.R.E. program of the 80s and 90s and hinted at bringing back that initiative today.

D.A.R.E is famously known as the “Just Say No” anti-drug initiative led by Nancy Reagan that took over school campuses in the 80s and 90s. The problem with the campaign is that there were never any proven results stating the program was effective in lowering drug use.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance:

“To date, there have been more than 30 evaluations of the program that have documented the negligible long-term impacts on teen drug use.”

Although the program has undergone some changes, the effectiveness of the initiative remains uncertain. Overall, it is interesting the different strategies certain parts of the country are taking in regards to addressing addiction. While some are focused on decriminalization, other areas have a tougher approach.

What are your thoughts on these new policies? Getting help can save a life, and treatment can offer a far better future than prison. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.

 CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

Jeff Sessions Wants to Bring Back Failed D.A.R.E. Program

Jeff Sessions Wants to Bring Back Failed D.A.R.E. Program

Talking politics has always been a bit of a point of contention. It isn’t considered polite dinner conversation, and these days the political arena seems more polarized than ever with opposing opinions. However, many advocates on both sides of the isle agree that addressing the issue of drug abuse and addiction in America is a very important topic today. With so many differences of opinion regarding strategy it should be more important than ever to pay attention to the statistics. We must learn from our mistakes. So the fact that the U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions still supports the War on Drugs is a little disheartening. Now, Sessions is sticking to his idea of keeping it old school by endorsing the D.A.R.E. program.

The only problem is the D.A.R.E. program doesn’t have the successful record he seems to think it does.

Jeff Sessions Speaks at D.A.R.E. Conference

Tuesday, July 11 Attorney General Jeff Sessions attended a D.A.R.E. training conference in Texas. While at the conference Sessions gave a speech in which he praised the D.A.R.E. program’s work in the ’80s and ’90s, saying D.A.R.E. is:

“The best remembered anti-drug program today.”

“In recent years, people have not paid much attention to that message, but they are ready to hear it again.”

While D.A.R.E. may be the most ‘remembered’ anti-drug program, being practiced all over the country with one of the most recognizable names next to ‘Just Say No’, the real eye-brow raiser was when Jeff Sessions stated:

“We know it worked before and we can make it work again.”

However, the majority of the data suggests that D.A.R.E. didn’t really ‘work’ as well as Sessions thinks. Some would go as far as to say it didn’t really work at all, despite what Jeff Sessions claimed to know.

D.A.R.E. Downfall

The D.A.R.E. program was created in 1983 in Los Angeles. In the years following the implication of the program, states and school districts made a great deal of investments into the program. Yet over time studies began showing that all this effort may have done more harm than good, much like the War on Drugs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance:

“To date, there have been more than 30 evaluations of the program that have documented the negligible long-term impacts on teen drug use.”

The agency also states that one intensive six year study even found that the program increased drug use among suburban teenagers, albeit a small amount.

According to a 1994 federal study, if students grew up and learned the dangers of drugs had been exaggerated or misinformed, they would distrust the lessons. Some insist this led to high rates of experimenting with drugs. Ironically enough, when D.A.R.E. was at its peak of activity in across the nation, between 1995 and 1996, teen drug rates were actually at their highest.

In fact, the American Psychological Association conducted a study including one thousand D.A.R.E. graduates over a ten-year period. After the decade, the study found no measurable effects were noted. The researchers compared levels of drug use, including:

  • Alcohol
  • Cigarettes
  • Marijuana and other illegal drugs

The data was collected before and after the D.A.R.E. program. Students were in sixth grade for the first period of the study, and were surveyed again when they were 20 years old. Although there were some measured effects shortly after the program on the attitudes of the students towards drug use, these effects did not appear to last.

D.A.R.E. to Do it Different

In defense of the D.A.R.E. program, the methods have changed since back in 2012 after the overwhelming empirical data influenced multiple levels of government to pull funding for the program. But it seems Jeff Sessions might want to push government funding back into the archaic attitudes that got the program nowhere.

Back in the ’80s and ’90s the program primarily involved police officers going to schools to educate kids about the dangers of gang violence and drug use. But many call the old techniques more ‘fear-mongering’ or ‘scare tactics’ than actual education. The majority of data shows these methods don’t seem to have the impact people thought they would.

Most drug policy experts believe that the attempts made to frighten kids away from drugs more often backfired. Even DARE’s own front-runners have acknowledged the program’s failures after years of denying the evidence.

The new strategy the D.A.R.E. program uses it evidence-based instead of fear-based. This reinvention includes the “Keepin It Real Program” that focuses on better decision making for kids. We should celebrate that D.A.R.E. is doing things a little different.

But the issue is most people are taking with these statements is that it appears Attorney General Jeff Sessions seems to think the old way was better. This jives pretty well with his ‘tough on crime’ agenda that aims to pursue harsher punishments, push for mandatory minimum sentencing and echoes negative stigma against people who use drugs. If Jeff Sessions makes a shift to supporting the new and improved D.A.R.E. then we can all breathe a little easier, but right now it isn’t looking that way.

Most people who are familiar with the War on Drugs, D.A.R.E. programs and other early attempts at addressing substance abuse in America will know that it definitely hasn’t been an easy road. We should focus on what we have learned about making treatment options more effective and showing more compassion for helping people suffering instead of punishing them. Getting help can save a life, and treatment can offer a far better future than prison. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.

CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

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