Congress Introduces Groundbreaking Bipartisan Legislation to Provide Treatment to Every Methamphetamine User Who Wants It

Press Release July 1, 2010
Media Contact

Bill Piper at (202) 669-6430 or Tony Papa at 646-420-7290

Yesterday, Congressmen Russ Carnahan (D-3rd/MO) and George Radanovich (R-19th/CA) introduced groundbreaking legislation that is a major step toward providing universal access for substance abuse treatment – along with wide-reaching social, health and economic assistance – to people struggling with methamphetamine-related problems. The Universal Access to Methamphetamine Treatment Act of 2010 (H.R. 5768) would increase funding for treatment facilities, provide vouchers to people seeking treatment, offer comprehensive services to ensure recovery and prevent relapse, and increase research into effective treatments. This includes advancing the development of a substitution treatment for methamphetamine misuse, akin to methadone and buprenorphine for heroin misuse.

“This bill would reduce the problems associated with both methamphetamine misuse and the failed war on drugs,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance and author of a 2008 report on effective methamphetamine policies. “It is a model for how to treat drug use as a health issue and reduce crime through the expansion of social services.”

In addition to expanding funding for methamphetamine treatment generally, the bill provides additional funding for underserved populations to eliminate historical disparities in treatment between men and women, urban and rural areas, whites and people of color, and heterosexuals and lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgendered individuals. The legislation would also help keep families together by referring certain pregnant and post-partum women to treatment instead of jail. Funding would also be used for health care, housing assistance and job training services that have been shown to reduce relapse and assist recovery.

The legislation provides additional funding for studies that look at cutting-edge methamphetamine addiction treatments, such as replacement therapy. Under replacement therapy, doctors prescribe one or more pharmaceutical drugs to people with substance abuse problems to eliminate or reduce their use of problematic drugs and improve their mental and physical well-being. The most commonly known replacement therapies are the nicotine patch for cigarette addiction and methadone for heroin addiction. In a 2008 report, “A Four Pillars Approach to Methamphetamine,” the Drug Policy Alliance evaluated scientific literature that shows promising results for various replacement therapies for methamphetamine use and misuse. The Universal Access to Methamphetamine Treatment Act of 2010 would provide crucial funding for the further research needed to develop replacement therapy medication for methamphetamine and other stimulants.

“For several decades Congress has passed one ineffective supply-side meth bill after another; yet as long as there is a demand for meth there will be a supply to meet it,” said Piper. “This bipartisan bill is a step towards comprehensive drug policy reform that treats addiction as a social and health problem rather than a criminal one. It is groundbreaking.”

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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