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Dr. Thomas McLellan, deputy director of the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy, said treating heroin and crack cocaine addicts was similar to managing patients with diabetes or high blood pressure. Just as diabetes patients wouldn't only be treated for six months before being released without medication, McLellan said drug addicts needed continuing care.
"Addiction is best thought of as a chronic condition," McLellan said. "There is no cure, but we can manage it."
McLellan said Britain's approach was an advance over similar programs in the U.S., where substance abuse treatments mostly focus on an acute period.
He said ongoing treatment would ultimately lower the medical and social costs of drug addiction, including crime and lost productivity. "The cost savings will be astronomical," he said.
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