U.S. Cocaine, Meth Use on the Decline, Kerlikowske Tells International Commission

Use of drugs, particularly cocaine and methamphetamine, is on the decline in the United States, according to U.S. National Drug Control Policy Director R. Gil Kerlikowske. He spoke this week at the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission.

Kerlikowske said American drug use has already dropped by one-third since its peak in the 1970s. Cocaine use has declined 40 percent, and methamphetamine use by 50 percent, in the past five years, he added.

He said the Obama Administration is focusing on placing criminals driven by an underlying substance use disorder into supervised treatment, in order to break the cycle of drug use and crime, UPI reports. He noted 120,000 people in the United States are diverted into treatment, instead of incarceration, each year.

Kerlikowske discussed other public health initiatives to reduce drug use, including Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment, which helps health institutions recognize the signs and symptoms of drug addiction early.

“The Affordable Care Act is also revolutionary, because for the first time, it makes drug treatment a required benefit for all Americans who suffer from substance abuse disorders – nothing short of a revolution in how we deal with substance use in the U.S.,” he said in a statement.

The administration is also focusing on major drug trafficking groups operating within the United States, he said. In 2011, U.S. law enforcement agencies disrupted or dismantled 612 drug trafficking organizations on the Attorney General’s Consolidated Priority Organization Target list, which centers on the major drug trafficking and violent criminal groups in the United States.

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    Question Mark

    July 26, 2013 at 12:45 PM

    So, is Kerlikowske, in his role as policy director, claiming credit for the drop in usage since “the 1970s?” I’m not sure what point is served by citing that date, and then focusing on more recent diversion to treatment as a talking point. It would be more useful to the reading public to know the rate of drug use year by year in order to substantiate the claim that the rate of use is declining.

    The article also states that diversion accounts for 120,000 people not being sent to trial and criminal punishment with no context for that number. How does that number compare to the numbers who are arrested and tried in court? How does that number compare to the estimated number of heroin/cocaine/meth users in today’s American society in general?

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    tom mcnamara

    May 12, 2012 at 10:58 PM

    Obviously this gentleman never walks the streets

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    May 11, 2012 at 4:28 PM

    Will Kerlikowske give due credit to the increased ease of obtaining cannabis for this decline in meth and cocdaine?

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    penny brashears

    May 11, 2012 at 3:52 PM

    i agree 100 percent.it just needs to be used to treat people.my grandson needs treatment .he is in juveniel detention for 20 days then he can go to the phoenix house.its 20 days wasted because its 20 days he could be getting treatment.he had a very mean judge and he would not listen to reasoning about my grandson needs treatment not detention.what makes it worse is he is gonna be 18 soon and his medicade wont pay for it after that.we are trying to get him help and nobody i found can help me to override the judge.

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