By William H. McMichael – Staff writer
Posted : Thursday Nov 5, 2009 14:25:31 EST
Treatment, not incarceration, should be the first option for veterans who commit nonviolent drug-related offenses, a group advocating alternatives to the nation’s “war on drugs” said Wednesday in a new report. The Drug Policy Alliance report also called on government agencies to adopt overdose prevention programs and policies for vets who misuse substances or take prescription medicines, and urged “significantly expanded” access to medication-assisted therapies, such as methadone and buprenorphine, for the treatment of dependence on opioid drugs used to treat pain and mood disorders. During a conference call with a Drug Policy Alliance representative and seven other advocates for change in the treatment of veterans, the military’s Tricare health benefits program came under fire for what a New York-based physician and specialist in drug addiction treatment called its failure to pay for veterans’ and family members’ opioid dependence treatments. The treatments, said Robert Newman of the Rothschild Chemical Dependency Institute, are endorsed by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Institute of Medicine.