CNN) -- As President Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon talk tough about cracking down on the deadly drug war, the United States is changing tactics in the battle against illegal narcotics at home. ">Obamaadministration thinks will give nonviolent offenders "a chance to serve their sentence, where appropriate, in the type of drug rehabilitation programs that have proven to work better than a prison term in changing bad behavior," according to the White House Web site.
Judge Paul Gluchowski, who works with the Prince William County Juvenile Drug Court in Virginia, dismissed the notion that a drug treatment program is the easy way out. Watch what it's like inside the drug court »
If anyone thinks that, he said he'd tell them they should "come and talk to some of the participants. A lot of them probably wish they never agreed to undergo drug court. And a lot of them have given up because it's too hard."
Those who slip up in drug court can be forced to wear ankle-monitoring bracelets or put into juvenile detention.
"If they don't give up, then when it comes time for graduation and you see the shine on their face, when you know that they have accomplished something, and they know that. That's what it's all about," Gluchowski said.
Vice President Joe Biden stressed the importance of drug courts and prisoner re-entry programs when he announced Kerlikowske's position in March, saying they "can serve as the light at the end of the tunnel, of a very long, long dark tunnel, for those who are stuck in the cycle of drug addiction and incarceration."
Kerlikowske said he was committed to tackling the nation's drug problem, but noted that it would take a "coordinated and multifaceted effort."
"The success of our efforts to reduce the flow of drugs is largely dependent on our ability to reduce demand for them," Kerlikowske said, calling the nation's drug problem one of "human suffering."
"It requires prosecutors and law enforcement, courts, treatment providers and prevention programs to exchange information and to work together. And our priority should be a seamless, comprehensive approach," he said.
In meeting with Calderon on Thursday, Obama tried to show Mexico's president that he is committed to ending a crisis that hits so close to home.
Obama vowed to beef up security along the border and to work to slow the flow of guns and drugs. He said the United States shares responsibility for the drug problem, saying "a demand for these drugs in the United States is what is helping to keep these cartels in business."
But he also tried to limit expectations that there could be any sort of quick fix.
"Now, are we going to eliminate all drug flows? Are we going to eliminate all guns coming over the border? That's not a realistic objective," he said. "What is a realistic objective is to reduce it so significantly, so drastically that it becomes once again a localized criminal problem, as opposed to a major structural problem that threatens stability in communities along those borders."
The White House has listened to those who say legalizing marijuana will pull the rug from under the violent cartels in Mexico and boost the U.S. economy, but that option is not on the table.