OSI Treatment Initiative

Good news. George Soros, who has previously made large investments in harm reduction programs, has started a new treatment initiative.

Critics have often branded Soros and OSI as supporters of drug legalization based on their past funding support for groups like the Drug Policy Foundation. Capoccia — who formerly led the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s addiction treatment and prevention program area — said it would be a mistake to associate the Closing the Addiction Treatment Gap program with drug-legalization groups. On the other hand, he noted, “Harm-reduction has always been a part of the continuum of care.”

Asked if Closing the Treatment Gap constituted an effort by Soros and OSI to tackle addiction issues in a more “mainstream” fashion, Capoccia replied, “This is not a departure at all from the investments OSI and Soros have made, but rather an extension,” adding: “It’s mainstream on the one hand but radical on the other — that everyone who needs treatment should have it. We’ve accepted things like waiting lists … the radical dimension is that we should be accepting that.”

RWJF’s 2006 decision to end its addiction-related program area has left a substantial funding gap in the treatment and prevention community, but Capoccia said that OSI’s intention is not to fill RWJF’s shoes. “This is not a definition of new priorities for OSI,” he stated. “This is more likely to be a focused effort.”