What would such a campaign look like? Like the war on cancer, it would have to be well coordinated and lavishly funded, comprehensive, multifaceted, and long-term. “The war on cancer supported basic research handsomely,” notes Dr. DeVita. “It set up application programs and U.S. clinical trials programs. The measure gave the National Cancer Institute (NCI) unique autonomy within the National Institutes of Heath to fund and coordinate research.” The war on addiction should include significant money for research as well as similar application and clinical trials programs. How much money? The NCI's budget for 2007 was almost $5 billion, and NCI pays for only about 45 percent of cancer research. In all we spend more than $10 billion a year researching cancer. Each year we spend, or rather misspend, more than $20 billion on the war on drugs. (In total we've spent in excess of $700 billion.) On prisons we spend billions more as a result of drug use. And yet the annual budget of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which includes almost all drug-related research and development, is less than $1 billion.
Researchers have hundreds of promising ideas for medications, cognitive and behavioral therapies, and combination treatments that could improve the odds for addicts. I mention some of these in Beautiful Boy. At the moment, most are untested. A flood of money into the field will allow a far wider range of study and draw in new researchers who will intensively examine the mechanics of addiction and develop and test promising treatments.
Excerpted from Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Meth Addiction by David Sheff, Copyright © 2007 by David Sheff. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.