Treating Addiction

Should government try a new approach?


Although casual use of drugs has been declining in the United States, there has been little change among heavy users of heroin and crack cocaine. Hard-core drug abusers typically are at the bottom of the social ladder, where drug-treatment programs have had the poorest track record. As a result, the killings, disease and abandonment of children spawned by drugs continue at a shocking pace. Advocates for expanded drug treatment argue that new programs will more than pay for themselves in reduced crime, improved health and fewer broken families. But skeptics oppose throwing more taxpayers' money at treatment, saying it's not clear which, if any, approaches really work. Meanwhile, new studies say government over-regulation limits the availability of effective anti-addiction drugs.

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