May 11, 2010

APA Applauds Evidence-Based Approach in New National Drug Control Strategy

Strategy focuses on prevention, early intervention and treatment.

WASHINGTON – The American Psychological Association applauds President Obama’s new National Drug Control Strategy for its strong focus on demand reduction, prevention, early intervention, treatment and science announced by the Office of National Drug Control Policy today.

The strategy is a testament to the value of an evidence-based, public health approach and is the result of extensive consultation with experts in the field and collaboration with scientific organizations, including APA.

The strategy’s proposal to create “prevention-prepared communities” capitalizes on accumulating evidence from prevention research. “Findings from the emerging science guide efforts to achieve public health impact through sustained, quality implementation of evidence-based interventions in communities across the country. ONDCP’s groundbreaking strategy for widespread application of prevention science findings, through a network of prevention-prepared communities, holds great promise for enhancing the health and well-being of our youth, families and communities,” says Richard Spoth, director of the Partnerships in Prevention Science Institute at Iowa State University and chair of the Society for Prevention Research Task Force on Translational Research.

The strategy promotes therapeutic jurisprudence through its endorsement of drug courts and enhanced treatment and re-entry services, as opposed to the exclusively punishment-oriented approaches that have dominated the policies of many previous administrations. The strategy’s endorsement of equity in crack versus powder cocaine sentencing is another important step forward, a position that has been advocated by leading psychologists for many years.

Throughout, the strategy emphasizes the value of partnerships between law enforcement and prevention and treatment professionals. It also cites the importance of early intervention at points of service, such as emergency rooms and other health care settings, as well as the expansion of Medicaid and the application of substance use and mental health parity regulations. This sets the ideal framework for the historic health care reform law and drug policy to strengthen each other.

“This policy document represents a new way of thinking about treatment and demand reduction,” said Steve Breckler, PhD, APA’s executive director for science.

“In addition to building on our knowledge about alcohol and some illegal drugs, the strategy is the first to highlight the need for more research into the many drugs of abuse that are still poorly understood, such as steroids, study drugs, and most of all, inhalants,” said Bob Balster, a member of APA’s Board of Scientific Affairs and an inhalant-use researcher who was consulted early in the development of the strategy. “It is critical to develop prevention and early interventions for inhalant use as it is one of the first substances children use.”

“This administration has shown a remarkable level of collaboration, both with individual APA scientists and scientific professional organizations, as well as tremendous interagency teamwork in undertaking such a bold set of initiatives,” said Norman B. Anderson, PhD, APA’s CEO. “These initiatives represent many of the research domains that underpin psychological science and are a testament to the capable leadership of Director Gil Kerlikowske and Deputy Director Tom McLellan.”

Read more about the ONDCP 2010 National Strategy.

The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 152,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting health, education and human welfare.