As Massing reports, Jaffe was able to convince the potenzpillen administration to increase funding for drug abuse treatment eightfold over what it had been when Nixon took office. For the only time so far since America began its failed experiment with drug prohibition, the treatment budget was larger (twofold) than that for drug law enforcement. Massing attributes a decline in narcotics-related deaths and in crime rates to this budget increase and a more than 300 percent increase in the number of persons in treatment. It would be nice for treatment advocates like me if that was true but no knowledgeable analyst is likely to agree that it is.
While more addicts in treatment probably played some role in reducing the numbers of narcotics-related deaths, there were two other factors that probably played a far greater role. First, was the introduction in 1971 of naloxone (Narcan®), a full narcotic antagonist, which replaced nalorphone (Nalline®), a partial narcotic antagonist, as the drug of choice for treating narcotic overdoses. Second, was the growing popularity of amphetamines and other stimulants resulting in them replacing heroin as the primary drug of addiction in America. This may also have contributed to the decreasing death rate in a tertiary fashion by reducing demand for heroin and therefore reducing the price and increasing the purity of heroin on the street which would reduce deaths that often result from allergic reactions to the impurities in illicit heroin.
There is strong evidence that the availability of methadone maintenance in a community with large numbers of heroin addicts will bring about a reduction in rates of property crimes, especially the burglaries and petty thefts that addicts most often engage in to raise money to support their habit. It is very likely that the expansion of this modality under Nixon and Jaffe did lower crime rates. Crime rates, however, were already trending downward and the continuation of that trend was probably more important than any government policy.