Brown U. Seeks To Improve Addiction Treatment

Brown U. Seeks To Improve Addiction Treatment
Posted by FoM on December 09, 1999 at 15:36:28 PT
By Eric Brazer, Brown Daily Herald
Source: U-WIRE
To raise awareness of the promise of addiction treatment and to pressure the judicial and medical systems to make treatment more readily available, the Brown University-based Physician Leadership on National Drug Policy has recently been awarded two grants to expand its efforts. 
The grants will help PLNDP build coalitions with community groups and support education programs with addiction and primary care specialists. The grants, totaling $1.35 million, were awarded by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. "We are entering a promising phase," said Dr. David S. Greer, professor of community health and dean of medicine emeritus of the School of Medicine. "We are the dominant player in this field -- there are not many comparable programs. We have a very impressive board of major figures in the American medical field." PLNDP is working to guide the nation's war on drugs away from a losing battle against illegal narcotic use, to a public health approach that treats an addiction as a chronic illness. "We look at extent of effectiveness of incarceration and look at extent, or lack thereof, of treatment," Greer said. "We want to shift priorities from interdiction and incarceration to treatment and rehabilitation." According to Dr. David Lewis, project director of PLNDP, changing policy is a slow process requiring a wide range of efforts to achieve one of PLNDP's main goals -- transforming the criminal justice approach of the nation's drug policy into one of public health and medical solutions. Lewis, director of Brown's Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies, in which PLNDP is based, added that PLNDP also wants to increase availability of treatment and prevention, enhance support for addiction research, and provide better and more-inclusive education for medical students and practicing physicians. Over a period of two years, the program seeks to link its physician and medical student associates to groups within the community and provide a full range of educational materials including information on underserved populations and prevention programs. "The program had a two-year life, and this grant allows it to advance to years three and four," Lewis said. With the grant, PLNDP will also produce educational videotapes summarizing research in addiction prevention and early treatment. Two earlier videotapes produced by PLNDP feature findings on the promise of treatment and the success of drug courts. "This grant will allow us to gather and record research bearing directly on addiction," Lewis said. "It will greatly support our video production, which is used to train thousands of police, judges, and physicians." To date, the group has received more than 5,000 requests for the videos. PLNDP's boundaries have grown since its formation in 1997. It has shared its message with Congress, federal officials, state legislatures, law enforcement agencies, and the legal and medical communities. The program has collaborated with the American Bar Association, American Medical Association, and other professional groups. Ten medical societies also have formally endorsed PLNDP. Since its development in 1997, over 6,000 physicians and several hundred medical students have become PLNDP associates. "As long as there is a demand and a great profit, we will never stop the flow of drugs," Greer said. "The answer is to reduce the public dependency on drugs. As the demand decreases so will the flow." Published: December 8, 1999(C) 1999 Brown Daily Herald via U-WIRE  
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