It’s Time To End The ‘Aura Of Illegality’ For Drugs, Top Federal Health Official Says

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The government bears some responsibility in perpetuating stigmas against drug addiction that have created barriers to treatment, the head of the nation’s top drug research agency says. In an op-ed published by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) last week, National Institute on Drug Abuse Director Nora Volkow shared a personal story about the stigmatization of drug use and the negative consequences that’s had for people suffering from substance misuse disorders. Part of that stigma comes from the enforcement of punitive drug policies, including some that remain in effect, she said. Volkow said that “stigma remains one of the biggest obstacles to confronting America’s current drug crisis.” “Government policies, including criminal justice measures, often reflect—and contribute to—stigma,” she said. “When we penalize people who use drugs because of an addiction, we suggest that their use is a character flaw rather than a medical condition. And when we incarcerate addicted individuals, we decrease their access to treatment and exacerbate the personal and societal consequences of their substance use.” Addiction stigma pervades medicine, policy & communities. In @AAMCToday, NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow writes about her personal experience with stigma & the need for a large-scale social intervention to change public attitudes toward addiction. Read more: https://t.co/RdZQOrZeJJ pic.twitter.com/HvnYUfECsN — NIDAnews (@NIDAnews) November 8, 2021 The official has made similar remarks in the past, arguing that there’s an apparent need to decriminalize drug possession and emphasizing that the drug war has disproportionately impacted communities of color. “The aura of illegality affects the treatment of people with addiction,” Volkow said. “For example, some treatment programs expel patients for positive urine samples, as if relapse were not simply a known symptom of the disorder and a clinical signal to adjust the treatment approach but instead actual wrongdoing.” Stigma has also slowed the adoption of…

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Source : It’s Time To End The ‘Aura Of Illegality’ For Drugs, Top Federal Health Official Says

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