I’ve noticed several recent pieces in the media on a significant ‘shift’ in federal priorities that will result in additional funds for treatment. As reported in one such account: “The new approach… led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), attempts to place a stronger emphasis on treating drug addicts rather than sending them to jail.”

So far so good. But here’s how the requested $133 million requested, if approved, would be spent:

  • $48 million for existing state prevention efforts, including improved reporting and data on overdose and related fatalities.
  • $12 million to provide naloxone and training in its use to first responders.
  • $25 million for existing CDC and SAMHSA prevention and education programs.

Translation: $85 million, or 64%, of the new money would go some place other than addiction treatment. Assuming, of course, that a GOP-dominated Congress would fully fund a Democratic¬†Administration’s request as submitted.

I’m not taking bets on that.

Not to discount the importance of prevention, education, and data analysis, but if the goal is to get more addicts in treatment (instead of jail), wouldn’t it make sense to invest more than $48 million across 50 states? Hard to imagine an additional mil or two will make much difference in a statewide effort to get treatment to people who most need it. ¬†It’s better than nothing of course, but most of the cash will probably be used to make up for shortfalls in funding for existing state programs.

I don’t know if we can call that progress.

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