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Obama: Drug abuse is a public health issue

Odyssey House welcomes President Obama’s position that drug abuse should be treated as a public health problem; that drug policy has been too focused on arrests, incarceration, and interdiction; and that he favors demand reduction but not legalization.

President Obama explained his stances on drug policy during a recent YouTube question-and-answer session.

The President said, “I am not in favor of legalization. I am a strong believer that we have to think more about drugs as a public health problem. When you think about other damaging activities in our society – smoking, drunk driving, making sure you’re wearing seatbelts – typically we’ve made huge strides over the last 20, 30 years by changing people’s attitudes. And on drugs I think that a lot of times we have been so focused on arrest, incarceration, interdiction that we don’t spend as much time thinking about ‘how do we shrink demand?’”

He said he would like to see more resources could go towards drug rehabilitation so that those looking for help from a treatment program do not have to wait for months for assistance, and that there should be a way of steering nonviolent, first-time drug offenders “into the straight and narrow,” through drug courts or similar programs.

Odyssey House has long viewed substance use disorders as a public health issue and offers tailored treatment programs for a diverse range of individuals and families.

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