The Center for the Study of Drug Addiction Policy (CSDAP) was created in the throes of the ongoing crisis of skyrocketing misuse and abuse of heroin and opioids. Community resources were, and still are, strained to the shattering point, struggling to deal with the explosion of opioid-related addiction, overdoses and deaths.
Watching the official responses to this situation we’ve seen claims that addiction had been “solved” and that new scientific treatments were in hand that will resolve the problem—if enough funds are spent to implement them widely. This was specifically in connection with Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) and the use of opioid-based drugs to treat opioid addiction, an approach based on a strict brain disease model of addiction.
We also noticed that some officials, battered by the opioid devastation sweeping through their communities, have sometimes quickly and uncritically embraced these promised solutions despite a significant amount of healthy skepticism expressed by acknowledged addiction experts. Although it would indeed be wonderful if the answer to addiction and its treatment has been found, we must critically examine such claims and any potential unintended consequences they may have before blindly adopting them wholesale.
Recent history and our generations-long experiment with opioids has demonstrated that drug abuse solutions have suffered from a never-ending string of unintended consequences. We clearly see in today’s opioid crisis the effects of the earlier, often compassionate rush to treat chronic pain particularly where that trend was helped along by pharmaceutical companies more dedicated to sales than sound public policy. After all, it was not long ago that “science” was telling us that “opioids do not cause addiction when used to treat chronic pain” and we know where that lead. (For more information see this article in The Atlantic. For a complete report see Sam Quinones’ landmark, must-read book Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic.)
An Online Repository
CSDAP was created to provide an online source for articles, opinions and documents related to drug addiction, treatment and policy. We provide relevant, curated information as well as analysis of policy trends, addiction treatment outcomes and cautions concerning unintended consequences. While examining current policy we also aim to provide an historical and practical context.
Please review our key policy issues page for more detail on the issues and questions we will be examining.
The goals we have set for the Center are:
- To participate in and influence the public policy debate surrounding the opioid and general drug abuse crisis by critically examining exclusionary “solutions” that reduce choice or narrow the range of possible outcomes.
- To evaluate how philosophical jumping-off points such as the strict brain disease model of addiction impact research investments, policy decisions and on-the-ground service delivery.
- To report on best practices for prevention and rehabilitation.
- To carry out an ongoing examination of policy trends that elevate disease-model solutions for addiction treatment at the expense of more encompassing models that address behavioral, emotional, social, family and other similar underlying causes or those that advocate drug-free outcomes.
Our Key Policy Issues
For a deeper understanding of the issues on which we are focusing and the questions we have posed about them, see: