In an in-depth interview recently on 60 Minutes, new Director of National Drug Control Policy Michael Botticelli gives hope to the millions of people fighting addiction with the promise of a new national focus on early treatment instead of incarceration and hitting “rock bottom.”

After 40 years and a trillion dollars spent, the U.S. has little to show for its war on drugs, so Botticelli says it’s time for a new approach:

Michael Botticelli on 60 Minutes: “I often say that substance use is one of the last diseases where we’d let people reach their most acute phase of this disorder before we offer them intervention. You’ve heard the phrase “hitting bottom.” Well, we don’t say that with any other disorder.”

“Blunt force didn’t knock out the drug epidemic. 21 million Americans are addicted to drugs or alcohol. We can’t arrest and incarcerate addiction out of people. Not only do I think it’s really inhumane, but it’s ineffective and it cost us billions upon billions of dollars to keep doing this.”

The essence of Michael Botticelli’s approach is that addicts should be patients, not prisoners.

“So the medical community has a key role to play in terms of doing a better job of identifying people in the early stages of their disease, in doing a better job at treating people who have this disorder.”

The full story and interview is here: 60 Minutes: “A New Direction on Drugs”