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Drug addiction is a huge problem

Most members of Congress no doubt comprehend the need for more spending on drug addiction treatment programs. At the same time, they have a very clear understanding of the government’s ability to waste enormous amounts of money without achieving acceptable results.

President Barack Obama frequently turns to the public, often via social media, to overcome that attitude of prudence. Now, he has joined with rap artist Macklemore in a new campaign. Both appear in a video released recently by the White House.

In it, Macklemore admits he abused drugs and waged a personal fight against addiction. “Recovery works, and we need our leaders in Washington to fund it,” he adds.

Obama notes in the video that the House of Representatives has passed several bills related to opioid addiction. But, he adds, “unless they also make actual investments in more treatment, it won’t get Americans the help they need.”

Members of both the House and Senate understand that. But they know merely throwing money at the problem won’t work. It has been tried many times in Washington, and the headlines tend to be about waste and failure rather than success. Think Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals.

Lawmakers should provide more funding for substance abuse treatment – but only with safeguards to ensure most of the money is not poured down the bureaucracy’s rat hole. Even with such precautions, drug treatment initiatives should be monitored closely and continually.

Too often, Washington measures success in terms of dollars spent, not results. Americans dying every day from drug overdoses simply cannot afford to be victimized by that approach.