Written by Ted Jackson
April 2008

For those who have waited years and years through the “Just Say No,” the insidious rise of the Prison Industrial Complex and the overall absurdity of our nation’s policies toward addiction, the time of reform has finally come.

Partly driven by an inability to pay the $60 billion a year it costs to warehouse addicts in our vast prison system, and partly driven by a public increasingly well-educated about addiction, in state after state policies are being rewritten to mandate treatment instead of jail for those who are addicted to drugs. And the spectacle of a Mexican government impotent in the face of the enormous wealth and power of that nation’s drug cartels is shining a spotlight on the Big Lie that is the War on Drugs, prompting the beginnings of a examination of our approach to drug policy at it most fundamental level, which is whether drugs should be illegal in the first place and whether such vast sums should be allowed to be funneled into the hands of the world’s least socially desirable elements, like Mexico’s cartels, instead of toward things like treatment.

Many thought that the treatment industry might experience a sharp downturn during this harshest of recessions, but we here at Treatment Magazine have never believed that, looking as we have at the fundamentals, which point toward explosive growth over the next decade as vast sums are shifted from the prison system into the treatment industry. And on the private side, insurers have been hugely remiss in cutting back on funding by amounts that are no longer going to be tolerated by a public more and more wanting access to quality care. We believe that the treatment industry, as it introduces increasingly sophisticated “evidence based” treatment products, is on the cusp of a period of unprecedented explosive growth with annual spending on treatment easily reaching $50 billion a year within the next ten years, double our nation’s current rate of spending.