Addiction to alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs causes enormous damage not only to individuals, but also to the families, communities, and societies of which they are a part. Public policies designed to ameliorate this damage sometimes exacerbate it, by, for example, contributing to mass incarceration, limiting access to treatment, providing ineffective prevention programs for young people, and weakly regulating industries whose business model relies on addictive consumption.
Neuroscience, behavioral economic, and policy analytic research can help elected and appointed officials craft more effective policies concerning addiction. But for scientific evidence to inform policy, policymakers and researchers must collaborate far more than they normally do.
SNAP was created to foster interaction and mutual learning between addiction researchers and policy makers. Under the guidance of a tri-partisan planning group co-led by Stanford Professor Keith Humphreys and former West Virginia State Senator Dan Foster (a Stanford-trained physician), SNAP brings science to bear on four addiction-related policy areas: the opioid epidemic, marijuana policy, prevention in youth, and addiction in the criminal justice system.
SNAP activities include preparing and disseminating briefs on evidence-informed approaches to addiction-related policy, testifying at legislative hearings, providing members of the media accurate scientific information about addiction and addiction-related policy, consulting directly with policymakers on pending laws and regulations, and holding educational events designed to increase scientists’ understanding of policy and policymakers’ understanding of science. SNAP’s overriding goal is to assist policymakers across the political spectrum to design laws and regulations that reduce the terrible public health and public safety toll of addiction.