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Prop 36 - Position Paper of Terence T. Gorski

An Article By Terence T. Gorski
GORSKI-CENAPS Web Publications
Published On: February 11, 2001          Updated On: August 07, 2001
© Terence T. Gorski, 2001

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Table of Contents


Proposition 36 Is A Step In The Right Direction

Affirming the Truth About Addiction

The Extent Of The Problem

Whatís At Stake

Whatís Needed For Successful Implementation

Principles Governing Drug Law Reform

Political Compromise And Imperfection Legislation

Weaknesses Of Proposition 36

How To Strengthen Proposition 36

Taking The Lead To Implement Proposition 36

Mistakes To Be Avoided

A Model Action Plan For Addiction Professional Organizations

Pulling It All Together

An Example of How To Analyze Proposition 36

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The eyes of the nation are on California as it mobilizes to implement the controversial Proposition 36.This proposition passed with 60% of voters support.It mandates that non-violent drug offenders will receive community-based treatment instead of incarceration.The passage of Californiaís Proposition 36 is part of a national trend toward reforming drug laws in a way that will return the nation to a Public Health Addiction Policy rather than a War On Drugs Policy.

Thereís growing political opposition to the War on Drugs and its economic and moral implications.Economically, the war on drugs is a failure.In spite of the investment of billions of tax payer dollars, drugs are less expensive, more potent, and more readily available than ever.A number of serious scholars believe that the war on drugs has actually increased, rather than decreased, the nationís drug abuse problems.It is clear in economic terms that prevention and treatment is far more effective and less costly than imprisonment.

Morally, the nation is outraged by the way drug addicts are demonized and abused by the very system that is supposed to help them.Treatment money is radically cut while billions of dollars are spent building prisons.Expensive paramilitary equipment is available to even the smallest police departments to protect officers serving no knock drug warrants.At the same time, lack of funding is forcing treatment programs, halfway houses, and outpatient clinics to close by the thousands.As a result, the number of addicts unable to find treatment is growing.Without access to treatment, most of these addicts will eventually be arrested and imprisoned.

Proposition 36 Is A Step In The Right Direction
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The passage of Californiaís Proposition 36 is step forward in a long journey to get our national leadership to recognize that addicts are sick people who need to get well, not bad people who need to be punished.

The passage of Proposition 36 adds to a positive momentum of reform.It started with many failed local and state attempts.Then, for the first time, the State of Arizona passed legislation mandating that nonviolent drug addicts receive treatment instead of punishment.It wasnít perfect legislation, but as we will discuss later, no successful legislation ever is.Then Proposition 36 passed in California.Once again, the legislation wasnít perfect, but it was better than in Arizona.

Now a number of similar propositions are underway in various states.One of the most widely publicized is the initiative in New York State to reform the Rockefeller Drug Laws.A victory in New York would be symbolically powerful, because it was the Rockefeller Drug Laws that started the trend of demonizing addicts and subjecting them to harsh punishment for being sick while denying them access to treatment.

Affirming the Truth About Addiction
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Proposition 36 is part of nationwide struggle to affirm the truth about addiction.It is a struggle to get societal recognition that addiction is a biopsychosocial illness that requires treatment.It is a struggle to remove the criminal stigma from addiction and to free imprisoned addicts whose only crime is being addicted.It is also a struggle to rebuild the nationís addiction treatment system, which was all but destroyed by the war on drugs and the implementation of managed care.

So the eyes of the nation are on Californiaís efforts to implement Proposition 36.If Proposition 36 is successfully implemented,it will radically accelerate the nationís movement back to a Public Health Addiction Policy.If it fails, it may set the stage for another decade or more of punishing addicts instead of treating them.

The Extent Of The Problem
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Today there are over two million people in our nationís prisons.Twenty-five percent of them, over 500,000 prisoners, are being punished for the non-violent drug crimes of possession and personal use.There were no other crimes involved.There was no drug dealing, no theft, no violent crime.A half million people in the United States are imprisoned, for an average period of seven years, because they suffer from the disease of addiction.Less than twelve percent will receive treatment for addiction while incarcerated.

Being in prison doesnít stop prisoners from using drugs.Drugs are readily available in most prisons through a black market.As a result, most addicted prisoners who canít get treatment behind the bars will stay addicted.Most prisoners are also psychiatrically damaged by their prison experiences.They return to their communities with their same old addiction problem and a brand new set of psychiatric problems caused by incarceration.They also return with a criminal stigma that makes it difficult to find meaningful employment.As a result, incarceration sets most prisoners up to relapse to alcohol, drugs, violence and crime upon returning to their communities.

The primary goal of passing and implementing Proposition 36 is to stop this massive societal atrocity.Sick people need treatment, not punishment.If the government were to incarcerate a half a million diabetics because they were caught possessing and using sugar, the nation would rise in political rebellion.But when it happens to addicts, who have been demonized by the popular media culture, people turn their backs and walk away.Even addiction treatment professionals can rationalize their decision to abandon imprisoned addicts.They turn away from imprisoned addicts, to focus on fighting for their fair share of a diminishing pot of treatment dollars.Meanwhile, funding is continually shifted to building new high tech prisons.

How many addicts must be imprisoned before it becomes wrong?How many addicts must be imprisoned before we decide to act?What will it take for addiction professionals to rise up together, and join with other people of good will to change the national and state laws that cause the wrongful imprisonment of non-violent drug addicts?

Whatís At Stake
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Proposition 36 is designed to reduce both the direct fiscal cost of managing non-violent drug abusers and the less tangible human costs.

The Direct Fiscal Cost:Proposition 36 will divert approximately 24,000 nonviolent drug-possession offenders from imprisonment to community-based drug treatment.The cost of the community-based drug treatment is about $4,000 per person in a typical year or a total of $96 million.A year of imprisonment for one drug user costs about $20,000 or a total of $4.8 billion.The cost savings of implementing Proposition 36 could be as high as $3.84 billion in its first year.To achieve these cost savings, Proposition 36 calls for a redirection of $120 million in the first year to fund the development of a new or expanded treatment network.

The Less Tangible Human Costs:The less tangible human costs would also be reduced.The pain and suffering of incarceration and the resultant lost productivity and societal dysfunction ripple through the families and communities that surround each incarcerated drug abuser.

It is estimated that 80% of all people convicted of non-violent drug offenses have families with children.Many are single parents.The widespread incarceration of non-violent addicts destroys these families and floods the child welfare system with thousands of new orphans from our failed drug control policy.Many of these children will fall through the cracks in the system.They will suffer neglect or abuse and many will become criminals and drug addicts who suffer the same fate as their parents.

It is important to remember the law of unintended consequence. A well intentioned but poorly designed welfare system was designed to help poor people rise out of poverty.Instead it created the human wreckage of multi-generational government assisted poverty.Now a well intentioned but poorly designed War On Drugs Policy that was intended to lower the rates of addiction and help addicts recover, is causing the wholesale incarceration of nonviolent drug addicts.†† The unintended consequence of the War On Drugs is the creation of government assisted multi-generational addiction, criminality, and violence.

Proposition 36, if properly implemented, will provide treatment that returns at least 60% of these nonviolent drug offenders to productive citizenships.It will reunite these recovering addicts with their families and improve their quality of parenting.This will break the chain of multi-generational addiction and criminality rather than expand it.The benefits to future generation are incalculable.

Whatís Necessary For Successful Implementation
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When large amounts of government money are invested in a major new program, the government looks for leadership, technology, personnel, and oversight to assure programmatic success.They look for strong leadership from judicial and clinical experts with the knowledge, skills and experience needed to make the new system work.They look for an effective and ready to use treatment technology that can be rapidly and systematically deployed, implemented, and monitored.They also look for trained clinical personnel required to staff the newly developed treatment network.

Fortunately, these resources are already available within the existing network of addiction treatment professionals.The Judicial leadership is available in The National Association of Drug Court Professionals and itís California State Chapter.The clinical leadership is available from three cooperative national and professional associations.The National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP) can provide leadership in implementing treatment program structures.The National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC) and the International Counselor Reciprocity Consortium (ICRC) can provide a veritable army of already trained and experienced addiction professionals.They can also provide a proven system for expanding the professional work force.There is an organized body of knowledge that includes a research-based set of counselor competencies, a practical set of program management and clinical treatment skills, and a proven system for training and credentialing addiction professionals.Taken together, this set of organized knowledge can provide a quick, efficient, and effective way to build the community-based treatment network called for in Proposition 36.

The combined leadership of the Addiction Profession represent the professional cadre that is most knowledgeable and experienced in the treatment of non-violent drug offenders.When this combined leadership comes together to develop a uniform implementation plan and present it with one voice to the state governing authority, there is no doubt that their leadership will be recognized and affirmed.

Principles Governing Drug Law Reform
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The United Leadership of Addiction Professionals share general agreement about eight basic principles that need to be the foundation for implementing Proposition 36.These principles are;

1.†††††††† Addiction[i] is a biopsychosocial illness that can be successfully treated by a network of multi-level[ii], multi-modality[iii], and community-based treatment[iv] programs.

2.†††††††† Many substance abusers engage in criminal activity during the process of acquiring, using, or withdrawing from the effects of drugs.The effective treatment of addicts involved in the criminal justice system requires close cooperation between community-based addiction treatment providers and various components of the criminal justice system, especially the courts, probation and parole.

3.†††††††† All drug-related crimes are not created equal.The criminal behaviors of substance abusers need to be classified in three different areas so they can be matched to effective strategies for prevention and management.These three areas are:Area #1:Non-violent drug offenses related to personal possession and use of illicit drugs; Area #2:Drug dealing & property crimes related to the substance abusers need to get money to buy drugs; Area #3:violent crimes associated with the drug trade or with severe antisocial behavior by a subset of substance abusers.

4.†††††††† Initial reform of drug law enforcement should target the non-violent drug offenders whose crimes of possessing and using illicit drugs is directly related to their addiction.These individuals are most likely to respond favorably to treatment.

5.†††††††† Community-based treatment is less costly and more effective than incarceration for nonviolent drug offenders.Incarceration or other forms of punishment have proven to be ineffective.The most effective treatment outcomes are produced when there is close cooperation between the courts who order treatment, the providers who administer the treatment, and the probation and parole services who monitor and enforce compliance.

6.†††††††† There are uniform standards for the treatment of substance abusers that need to be the basis of any drug reform legislation that mandates substance abusers into treatment.There are separate standards for drug court professionals, treatment programs, and clinical professionals providing services within those programs.These standards should form the basis for implementing Proposition 36.All treatment programs receiving funding under Proposition 36 should be held accountable to these standards.

7.†††††††† Addiction treatment is a complex specialty requiring training and expertise.Therefore, the primary responsibility for providing addiction treatment services should be vested in properly licensed and certified addiction treatment programs employing properly credentialed addiction treatment professionals.

8.†††††††† Criminal justice professionals play a critical role in addiction treatmentAddiction professionals, working collaboratively with criminal justice professionals, have developed standards and policies for cooperative client management.These standards support collaboration between addiction professionals, who maintain responsibility for implementing treatment programs, and criminal justice professionals who maintain responsibility for monitoring, coordinating, and enforcing participation in treatment.Both are held accountable for effective collaboration and outcome on a case-by-case basis.

Political Compromise And Imperfect Legislation
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Politics is the art of compromise that makes the impossible possible.Proposition 36 is no exception.It was supported by a diverse coalition of individuals and organizations who agree on one thing Ė it is better to provide community-based treatment to non-violent drug offenders than to put them in prison.This constituency, however, was far from united on other issues, so compromise was required.Proposition 36 also had to win the support of a diverse group of voters within California.To frame the language of Proposition 36 in a way that could win the necessary support required even more compromise.

As a result of these compromises, the final version of Proposition 36 that was presented to the voters was far from perfect.It does, however,do one important thing Ė it shifts the state of California from punishing nonviolent drug offenders with incarceration to helping addicts with treatment and rehabilitation.Are there other strengths in Proposition 36 that make it a positive step forward in the humane treatment of drug addicts?I believe that there are.Are there also weaknesses in Proposition 36?Of course there are.Most of the perfect legislation that I have seen, failed to pass when voted upon.

There is a basic political reality:All legislation is both flawed and strengthened by the process of compromise required to get it passed.There are weaknesses built into Proposition 36 that could jeopardize itís successful implementation.There are important policy areas not adequately addressed.There are still other parts of the proposition that donít go far enough in supporting the current best practices in addiction treatment.But one thing must be remembered:Proposition 36 passed!.And it passed with a large enough majority to telegraph a clear message to the leadership of this nation-- Itís time to stop punishing addicts for being sick.Itís time to stop using addicted people as sacrificial scapegoats to justify a well intentioned but critically flawed national drug control policy.The passage of Proposition 36 is a clear message to the nationís leadership that the people of California, and perhaps the people of America, will no longer tolerate harshly punitive laws that hurt addicts far worse than their addiction ever could.

Overall Proposition 36, in spite of its weaknesses, is a positive step toward returning the nation to a Public Health Addiction Policy as an alternative to the well intentioned but misguided War On Drugs.This is good.And whenever a good emerges from our political process, it is wise to support, protect, and defend it.

Improving Legislation After It Is Passed
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Once drug reform legislation is passed, there are three ways to modify it:(1)Repeal it and reintroduce new legislation;(2) Amend it through formal legislative action; or (3) Interpret it in a way that will support both its intent and the proven principles and best practices needed for successful implementation.

It is difficult to repeal recently passed legislation unless it is proven to be unconstitutional or it is clear that itís successful implementation will fail.If legislation does get repealed, similar legislation generally will not be introduced or passed in the near future.

It is easier to amend existing legislation, than to pass new legislation or repeal old legislation.This, however, is a difficult process.All provisions in the legislation had significant support of the constituency.Things not in the legislation were probably left out because they were so controversial they threatened to split the constituency.The political realities that shaped the passage of the legislation donít change quickly.It is usually best to wait before proposing amendments until there is clear and convincing evidence that the amendments are needed.

It is usually easier and more effective to interpret the legislation in a way that will support both its intent and the proven principles and best practices needed for successful implementation.The interpretation can work around its problems, fill in its holes, and provide clear strategies for implementation.

To interpret legislation in an authoritative way requires the development of a White Paper developed by a group with undisputed expertise and supported by a broad-base of the political constituency.White Papers capable of doing this genuinely support the intent of the legislation, explaining the proven principles and best practices that need to govern implementation, and present a model action plan for implementation based upon those principles.

Weaknesses Of Proposition 36
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Proposition 36 has some critical weaknesses that can jeopardize its successful implementation.The three most critical weaknesses are:

1.†††††††† Poorly Defined Standards:Proposition 36 fails to specifically identify and support basic standards for substance abuse treatment programs and for training, supervising, and credentialing professional staff.

2.†††††††† Accountability:Proposition 36 lacks sufficient accountability for both the drug abusers receiving treatment and the programs providing treatment.

3.†††††††† Uniformity:Due to the lack of identified standards, Proposition 36 fails to provide a foundation of basic principles and practices that will allow both statewide uniformity of approach and sufficient flexibility to adapt programs to meet local needs.This lack of uniformity regarding basic principles and practices will create a confusing system of services that will be difficult or impossible to coordinate on a statewide level.

How To Strengthen Proposition 36
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Proposition 36 can be strengthened by addressing each of the above weaknesses in the following manner:

1.†††††††† Clearly Defined Standards:Proposition 36 could be strengthened with an amendment that identifies the specific standards that treatment programs and professional staff will be held accountable to.Treatment Programs should be held accountable to either JCAHO or CARF standards.Clinical Staff should be held accountable for operating in accordance with the Core Counselor Competencies as defined by either the NAADAC or the ICRC addiction counselor certification processes.

2.†††††††† Improved Accountability:Proposition 36 could be strengthened by specifying more specific mechanisms for holding treatment programs, clinical staff, and substance abusers receiving treatment accountable for producing outcomes.Treatment Program Accountability can be improved by requiring JCAHO or CARF Certification of all programs receiving funds under this proposition.Clinical Staff Accountability can be improved by requiring addiction counselor certification by either NAADAC or the ICRC and by adhering to staff training, orientation, and supervision requirements delineated in the standards for program certification.Substance Abuser Accountability can be improved by delineating a system of sanctions that can be applied when clients fail to meet minimal requirements of treatment and incentives that can be applied to reward and encourage clients who are meeting or exceeding the minimal requirements of treatment.The Accountability for Interagency Cooperation can be improved by defining the basic principles of collaboration at the level of treatment and defining the roles of all members of the local implementation team including judges, prosecutors, public defenders, probation officers, parole officers, arresting officers, and treatment providers.[v]

3.†††††††† Adaptation To Local Needs:Proposition 36 will succeed or fail based upon how it is implemented on the local level.The ability to adapt statewide standards to meet local needs is critically important.Amendments to Proposition 36 should specifically require compliance with specific standards while allowing local programs sufficient latitude to adapt the standards to meet local needs.A balance must be struck between accountability to statewide standards and the need to adapt programs structure to meet local needs.Every effort needs to be made in proposing amendments to avoid creating a system that micromanages the behavior of treatment professionals.

Taking The Lead To Implement Proposition 36
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There are different constituencies competing for the control of the new funding that will be made available to implement Proposition 36.Many of these constituencies are committed to the higher principles needed for the success of Proposition 36.Others, however, are circling the funding sources like sharks circling blood.They are poised to launch into a feeding frenzy for dollars that could destroy the chances of successful implementation.

It is important for all related addiction professional associations to establish a formal collaboration to share leadership and to present a united front in providing the expert guidance for implementing Proposition 36.The support of the addiction treatment professional organizations needs to come from both national and state organizations.

Addiction Treatment Professionals should take the lead because they have the expertise and experience needed to successfully implement Proposition 36.This united leadership is needed in order to fend off the sharks while assuring that a proper foundation of effective programs, practices, and principles are put in place.To do this the united leadership of the addiction field must reach out to other people who want to see Proposition 36 succeed.It is important not to stand alone and separate themselves from the very constituency that could help them achieve their purpose.

Addiction Treatment Professionals can start by acknowledging that the legislation is a move in the right direction.Then they can interpret the legislation from a position of authority in a way that supports its intent, and proposes a practical action plan for implementation based on current proven principles and best practices.The interpretation must be in writing.It must fill in policy gaps and reinterpret vague or misleading parts of the legislation without actually attacking or criticizing the legislation.Instead of fighting Proposition 36, the combined leadership of the addiction profession would be best served by becoming leaders in its successful implementation.This means getting recognized as the most qualified group of professionals to manage the implementation of Proposition 36.This will require exercising leadership in four areas:judicial, medical, programmatic, and clinical staff.

Judicial leadership can be provided by The National Association Of Drug Court Professionals and its related California association.The drug court judges are the most knowledgeable and experienced judges in managing non-violent drug offenders.

Medical leadership can be provided by The American Society of Addiction Medicine and its related California Society.

Clinical program leadership can be provided by The National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP).

Clinical staff & credentialing leadership can be provided by the addiction counselor certification boards associated with both The National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC) and The International Counselor and Reciprocity Consortium (ICRC).

If these four related groups can agree upon the basic principles required for successful implementation and work as a united political front they can and will become the undisputed leaders in the implementation of Proposition 36.

This united leadership should present themselves as the undisputed and most qualified professionals to interpret the legislation and develop specific recommendations for itís implementation.This interpretation should be presented in a white paper, endorsed by the boards of all participating associations that explains the legislation, interprets its intent, and describes the best practices that have been developed that can be used to implement similar programs.The policy gaps (i.e. important areas not covered by the proposition) can be filled in by how the proposition is interpreted and the implementation strategies that are recommended.Ineffective provisions can be interpreted in a way that will allow them to be worked around until formal amendments to the legislation can be passed.

The primary focus of the combined leadership should be to educate all interested parties about the principles and practices of addiction treatment that are required for successful implementation.The addiction professional organizations need to reach out from a position of strength, security, and expertise to others seeking to be involved with implementation.It is important for the addiction professional organizations to keep to the moral high ground by continually focusing upon helping suffering addicts and their families.It is also important to teach the basic principles and practices required for implementation rather than to push the individual agendas of specific organizations.We cannot afford to be seen as self-serving if we are to assume leadership in this crucial area.

This is not the time for the united leadership to wait for permission or authorization from some source of authority.Right now there is a leadership void.It seems that the professionals of good are holding back waiting for authorization to proceed while those participating in the feeding frenzy are positioning themselves to get the funding.

Mistakes To Be Avoided
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There are a number of mistakes that it would be best to avoid.These mistakes could cause serious obstacles to the united leadership.

It would be a mistake for the leadership of addiction treatment professionals to openly attack this legislation.This would cause them to be by-passed in the implementation process.

It would be a mistake to lobby for a repeal of Proposition 36 due to itís inherent weaknesses.Legislatures are unlikely to repeal a voter approved proposition unless it is clearly unconstitutional or until its implementation has failed.If the proposition is repealed, it is unlikely that any similar legislation will even be introduced let alone passed in the near future.

It would also be a mistake to ignore the strengths of Proposition 36.Its major strength is that calls for treatment of nonviolent drug addicts in the place of punishment.It also assigns mandated responsibility to the courts to monitor the treatment process and assigns responsibility for providing treatment to approved treatment providers.There are many other strengths in the act that can be supported as steps in the right direction.

For addiction professionals to become recognized leaders in the implementation of Proposition 36, they must publicly support the act by endorsing its strengths.This will allow the addiction treatment profession to gain the support of the political leadership that mobilized the passage of the proposition.It will also disarm other groups seeking to gain control of the propositionís implementation and related funding.Once addiction professionals have taken their place among the supporters of Proposition 36, they will have the opportunity to position themselves as experts and leaders.If they ignore the strengths and attack the entire proposition because it has weaknesses, their chances of influencing the implementation will be jeopardized.

A Model Action Plan For Addiction Professional Organizations
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The united leadership needs to demonstrate that addiction professionals have the expertise and experience with non-violent drug addicts that make them the undisputed experts in treating non-violent drug addicts.This can be done by developing and implementing a political action plan.The following is presented as an example of the type of a plan that could be developed by the united leadership.It is intended to act as a starting point for discussion.

1.†††††††† Political Action Task Forces:The United Leadership Of Addiction Professionals will organize itself for political action by developing a network of coordinated Political Action Task Forces.This can be done by:

A.††††††† Establishing a Political Action Task Force as part of each participating California and its parent national organization with the purpose of collaborating in the development of an implementation plan for Proposition 36.[vi]

B.††††††† Establish a Joint Political Action Task Force made up of representatives from the participating organizations who have decision-making authority of their organizations.

2.†††††††† White Paper:The United Leadership Of Addiction Professionals will prepare a white paper describing the principles and practices that need to be used to assure the successful implementation of Proposition 36.This white paper will:

A.††††††† Explain and interpret the provisions of Proposition 36 in light of the proven principles and the best practices of addiction treatment.

B.††††††† Describe the proven principles and best practices needed for the successful implementation of Proposition 36;

C.††††††† Demonstrate that addiction professionals have more expert knowledge and experience in treating nonviolent drug offenders than any professional group.

D.††††††† Establish Addiction Treatment Professionals as the appropriate groups to provide statewide leadership in the implementation of Proposition 36;

3.†††††††† Statewide Training Programs:The United Leadership Of Addiction Professionals will develop and schedule statewide training programs that clearly explain the proven principles and best practices contained the white paper and show how to adapt them to local needs.[vii][viii]

4.†††††††† Network With Other Professional Associations:The United Leadership Of Addiction Professionals will reach out to the leadership of other organizations who want to see Proposition 36 succeed.Open up formal discussions to determine which organizations support the positions presented in the White Paper and which organizations are opposed.

5.†††††††† Lobby With Funding Sources:The United Leadership Of Addiction Professionals will send representatives of the joint task force to meet with the members of all key government committees responsible for funding the implementation of Proposition 36 with the goal of convincing them that addiction treatment programs should be the main recipients of the funding.[ix]

6.†††††††† Mobilize the Recovering Community:The United Leadership Of Addiction Professionals will mobilize the community of recovering people as a political constituency to support this initiative.Start letter writing, fax and email campaigns to legislators from recovering people and concerned community groups to demonstrate popular support and confidence in the ability of the united leadership of addiction professionals to successfully implement Proposition 36.

Pulling It All Together
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There is a growing trend toward the reform of drug laws.The primary focus of drug law reform is upon creating laws that will change how nonviolent drug offenders are treated within the criminal justice system.The Drug Law Reform Movement wants the nation to shift from a War On Drugs Policy that supports harsh punishments and long periods of incarceration for nonviolent drug offenders to a Public Health Addiction Policy that promotes structured and accountable community-based treatment.

The major vehicle for drug law reform has been voter referendums and formal legislative actions.For drug reform legislation to be voted into law compromises need to be made.These compromises will always produce imperfect legislation.

Addiction professionals should strongly support any drug reform legislation that meets two criteria:it clearing shifts nonviolent drug offenders from incarceration to community based treatment; and it either directly supports or leaves room to include by interpretation or amendment the support of proven addiction treatment principles, current best practices, and existing standards.

An Example of How To Analyze Proposition 36
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The Rand Corporation Published a study entitled: Drug Offenders and the Criminal Justice System: Will Proposition 36 Treat or Create Problems.Although I do not support nor endorse all positions in this report,it does presents an interesting methodology of analysis and raises a number of relevant questions.It is on the internet at the following address:

Terence T. Gorski is available to speak or consult on the issue of Drug Law Reform
<Click Here For Information>


[i] Addiction is a pattern of compulsive alcohol or drug use that is marked by tolerance, dependence, loss of control, and continued use in spite of problems.For the purpose of this paper the terms chemical dependency, substance abuse, substance dependence, and drug abuse can be used interchangeably with the term addiction.

[ii] Multi-level treatment provides services at different levels of intensity ranging from intensive inpatient and residential services through a continuum of less intensive outpatient services.

[iii] Multi-modality treatment provides a smorgasbord of clinical services that can be matched to the immediate needs of the substance abusers seeking treatment.

[iv] Community-based treatment provides services within the residential communities of the substance abusers seeking treatment.Community-based treatment provides resources to both substance abusers and their families allowing the goal of family reunification to be more easily attained.It allows close coordination with employers and related community services.It reduces the problem of relapse that often occurs when a substance abuser is totally separated from friends, family, and community and then suddenly returned after the completion of treatment.

[v] The National Association of Drug Court Professionals and many of the States Associations of Drug Court Professionals have developed practical and effective incentive and sanction systems.I strongly suggest asking Joanne Bronstad (, 405-522-3869) the drug court planner for the state of Oklahoma for information about the system of incentives and sanctions developed within her state.I was impressed with their clarity and the uniformity of implementation by all members of the drug court team.

[vi] The active involvement of national organizations will provide an additional source of authority to legitimize the actions and recommendations of the united leadership.The national organization should view this as an opportunity to prepare to support the addiction professionals in other states who will be participating in the implementation of similar legislation.The next probable state to propose and pass such legislation in the State 0f New York.

[vii] Donít make the mistake of asking for approval or seeking permission to schedule these training programs from some other authority.The united leadership of the addiction field represents the highest level of expertise in these matters and, as such, is exercising appropriate leadership.Remember that the right of freedom of speech prevents any person or organization from stopping these training programs.†††

[viii] In doing this it is important for addiction professionals to assume equal professional stature with all competing associations and then to assert that the addiction treatment profession is the most qualified to interpret the intent of the legislation, identify the principles underlying that intent, and identifying current best practices that can be used as effective implementation strategies.

[ix] It is of critical importance to influence the development of those funding mechanisms.Remember this is a political process.In politics you get what you fight for.Be willing to take strong stands, refuse to compromise on core propositions, and take the behind-closed-doors public by using the media to generate both public support and public pressure.

Terry Gorski and other member of the GORSKI-CENAPS Team are Available To Train & Consult On Areas Related To Recovery & Relapse Prevention
Gorski - CENAPS, 17900 Dixie Hwy, Homewood, IL 60430, 708-799-5000,,

About the Author

Terence T. Gorski is internationally recognized for his contributions to Relapse Prevention Therapy. The scope of his work, however, extends far beyond this. A skilled cognitive behavioral therapist with extensive training in experiential therapies, Gorski has broad-based experience and expertise in the chemical dependency, behavioral health, and criminal justice fields.

To make his ideas and methods more available, Gorski opened The CENAPS Corporation, a private training and consultation firm of founded in 1982.  CENAPS is committed to providing the most advanced training and consultation in the chemical dependency and behavioral health fields.

Gorski has also developed skills training workshops and a series of low-cost book, workbooks, pamphlets, audio and videotapes. He also works with a team of trainers and consultants who can assist individuals and programs to utilize his ideas and methods.
Terry Gorski is available for personal and program consultation, lecturing, and clinical skills training workshops. He also routinely schedules workshops, executive briefings, and personal growth experiences for clinicians, program managers, and policymakers.

Mr. Gorski holds a B.A. degree in psychology and sociology from Northeastern Illinois University and an M.A. degree from Webster's College in St. Louis, Missouri.  He is a Senior Certified Addiction Counselor In Illinois.  He is a prolific author who has published numerous books, pamphlets and articles.  Mr. Gorski routinely makes himself available for interviews, public presentations, and consultant.  He has presented lectures and conducted workshops in the U.S., Canada, and Europe.  

For books, audio, and video tapes written and recommended by Terry Gorski contact: Herald House - Independence Press, P.O. Box 390 Independence, MO 64055.  Telephone: 816-521-3015 0r 1-800-767-8181.  His publication website is

Terry Gorski and Other Members of the GORSKI-CENAPS Team Are Available To Train & Consult On Areas Related To Addiction, Recovery, & Relapse Prevention
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