Home Publisher's Note Falling Down
Publisher's Note
Falling Down
February 2009

To hear Ron Hunsicker say it, those in the addiction treatment universe really shouldn’t have had any reason to expect that monies from the vast Obama stimulus packages - which can be viewed as a series of government funded and directed investment initiatives - would be directed toward addiction treatment. After all, Ron told us, spending on addictions would be viewed as too much like an earmark (which was to have no place in the stimulus packages) and the stimulus was supposed to be all about jobs, and what had addictions to do with jobs? etc...

The above is Naatp CEO Ron Hunsicker’s response to our question: “Why, throughout the enormous stimulus packages just passed by Congress and signed in to law by President Obama, wasn’t there a red cent directed at addiction treatment?”

We agree with Ron that treatment could likely have expected relatively little from the stimulus packages. But not because of the reasons (excuses?) enunciated by Hunsicker, but rather because addiction interests do not have anyone on the ground in Washington - high-powered full-time representation that could have made the case for inclusion in the stimulus package. They would have made mincemeat out of any argument that addictions spending was akin to an earmark, pointing out that earmarks are highly locally focused while addiction is among the most major of national issues. And as far as jobs go, the average age of a counselor is something like 50 years, with a crisis need to attract young people into the profession. Someone smart could surely figure out how to spend some money hiring and training young counselors, right? The fact that zero monies out of such vast stimulus sums were spent on addiction, especially since there are compelling jobs angles, is a shocking indictment of treatment’s unpreparedness and impotency in Washington.

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