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Center for Public Advocacy

Key issues

End discrimination

The stigma of addiction remains a major barrier to seeking treatment. Discrimination against people who seek alcohol or drug abuse treatment must end.

Insurance parity for treatment

Health insurance plans must cover treatment for addiction like they do other major chronic illnesses.  The new "parity" laws must be effectively enforced to expand access to treatment.

Health Care Reform

We must remain watchful and vigilant during the implementation phase of this new law.

Screening & Brief Intervention (SBI)

SBI is an evidence-based approach to identifying patients whose alcohol-related behaviors put them at risk for injury or illness and providing early intervention and, if appropriate, treatment.  By preventing more severe alcohol-related health problems, SBI can significantly reduce medical and societal costs of alcohol abuse and improve patients' quality of life.

Prevention education

Pervasive, consistent messages to young people about drugs and alcohol can prevent substance abuse.  Research indicates that adolescents who begin drinking before age 14 are significantly more likely to experience alcohol dependence at some point in their lives compared to individuals who begin drinking after 21 years of age.  Therefore, the primary goal of prevention is to delay the first use of alcohol or other drugs.

Sentencing alternatives

Most inmates in our prisons are there in part because of substance abuse.  Drug courts are designed to help people facing criminal drug and alcohol charges get through treatment and recover.  They have resulted in varying degrees of reduced recidivism and cost savings for the criminal-justice system.  Over 50% of defendants who complete treatment programs and participate in aftercare do not commit new crimes.

Local initiatives

There are a number of innovative proposals at the local level that can help prevent alcohol-related deaths and injuries.  Graduated drivers' licenses, "happy hour" restrictions, keg registration, social host laws and similar policies have been shown to reduce underage drinking and fatal accidents among young people.

Alcohol marketing

Billions of dollars are spent annually on alcohol advertising and promotional activities that clearly target young people.  Reducing exposure to that marketing will decrease underage alcohol consumption and help protect youth until they are more able to make informed decisions.

Alcohol levies

Research has shown that raising alcohol taxes leads to a decrease in underage consumption and binge drinking, as well as alcohol-related illness and death.  Additionally, increasing alcohol taxes decreases the propensity to drink and drive among people of all ages.  We support dedicating a portion of those funds for expanded access to addiction treatment.

Prescription Drug Abuse

Prescription drug abuse is the nation's fastest growing drug problem and a public health crisis, requiring interventions across many domains. We submitted comprehensive comments to NIDA about a possible Surgeon General response to the issue, and believe proposals like Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs are an important way to address this epidemic.

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