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Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies

PLNDP Physician & Medical Student Associates
May 2000 Newsletter

News from the Project Office

Dear Colleagues:

I am pleased to report new energy and interest in Physician Leadership on National Drug Policy. Our message is definitely getting through. We have engaged not only the treatment professionals, but also judges, business leaders, and politicians who strongly support the PLNDP’s proposed new emphasis on treatment and prevention. With renewed substantial funding from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The MacArthur Foundation, we have fashioned a strategic plan for the next two years of the project.

Overall, our priorities for the next phase will focus on: (1) educating the public, healthcare professionals, and policymakers about addiction as a chronic disease, (2) promoting parity for insurance benefits for substance abuse treatment, (3) researching prevention and early intervention, particularly around adolescents, and (4) improving medical education by working to incorporate substance abuse at all levels of training.

This newsletter is the first of a consolidating approach to keep the PLNDP Physician Associates and the PLNDP Medical Student Associates better informed of our activities. In the past, we have had two separate newsletters; one fashioned for medical students and the other for Physician Associates. Now we have gained some efficiency by combining them and plan to disseminate our news more often.

We have established a Strategic Planning Committee which includes members of the core PLNDP and our new outreach partners: Join Together, American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), American Medical Student Association (AMSA), American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology (ACOG), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Society of General Internal Medicine (SGIM), and Society for Teachers of Family Medicine (STFM). This Strategic Planning Committee met at Brown University on February 17, 2000. Also in attendance were representatives from Porter-Novelli, a consulting firm we have contracted with to provide assistance with public relations and policy affairs related to our project. Reports from several of our outreach partners are provided later in this newsletter.

On April 6th, we released the PLNDP Position Paper on Drug Policy, a report that is designed to promote the PLNDP consensus and our recommendations for change. The report has already been sent to every member of Congress with a cover letter signed by the principle health officials of the Reagan and Clinton administration, PLNDP members Drs. Edward Brandt, Jr. and Philip R. Lee. This report and the cover letter that accompanied it continues to make the point that we are evidence-based, not ideologically-based, and—to the extent that partisanship reigns in the political system—we are assiduously bipartisan. The full report can be downloaded from our website This report, including many color graphics, can be used for a variety of educational purposes. I encourage you to visit our website and make use of it. We’re getting extremely positive feedback from everyone who has seen it.

The distribution of our third video, which was developed primarily for national cable television distribution, entitled “From Hopelessness to Healing,” is well under way. This video combines footage from the first two videos that the project produced, “Trial Treatment and Transformation” and “Drug Addiction: The Promise of Treatment.” Working with Porter-Novelli, we have recruited PLNDP Physician Associates nationwide to work with their local cable television network to air the video as a way of educating both the public and professionals about addiction. If you are interested in working with us to enlist your local cable network to air this video, please contact the PLNDP National Office at 401-444-1817 or email

To date, we have made no concerted effort to expand the PLNDP Associates, either medical student or physician. Currently, we have several hundred PLNDP Medical Student Associates and over 6,000 PLNDP Physician Associates, but clearly there are many others that would profit from learning about the project and having access to communications about the project activities. I urge those of you with an interest in what we are doing to become more active and share the website with your colleagues and encourage them to sign up as an associate, in the “Keeping Informed” section of our website

As we begin to build collaborative relationships with other professional organizations and recruit more associates, we need a more effective mechanism for engaging our associates in our activities. In an effort to address these concerns, we ask that you complete the enclosed card and return it to the PLNDP National Office or e-mail the information to


     David C. Lewis, MD
     Project Directo


News from PLNDP Outreach Partners

American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM)

ASAM and Join Together (JT) have agreed to work with ASAM members and JT constituents nationally to promote parity in each state, as part of their collaboration with PLNDP. In late March, ASAM and JT convened an initial group in Washington, DC, with representatives from several national organizations that have state chapters, affiliates, or constituents. These groups can agree to form action teams within those states where parity is most feasible. The strength of this approach is that the action teams would have members from all professional, social, and political sectors of the community. This coalition would be bi-partisan and have a common goal of increasing access to treatment and improving the quality and effectiveness of addiction treatment.

Join Together
Physicians Save Time with JTO Direct

Want the latest research findings on how alcohol and drug use affects your patients delivered right to your desk? Then sign up for JTO Direct. This free email service provides you with the highlights of the top news, research and trends in the substance abuse field so you can browse them at your convenience. Instead of investing the time to read multiple newspapers and medical journals, now you can stay on top of the latest information on substance abuse in five minutes a day or less. This can not only help you save time, but will allow you to do your job better as well, since alcohol and drug use are often related to other health problems.
You select the content you need and how often you want to receive it: daily or weekly. Sign up for JTO Direct on the web at:     For more information about JTO or JTO Direct, email <> or call 617-437-1500. Join Together is a national resource helping communities fight substance abuse and gun violence. It is funded by a grant from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to the Boston University School of Public Health.


Endorsement of our Consensus Statement by state medical societies and national professional organizations is progressing well with seventeen state medical society endorsements to date. The American Medical Association (AMA) officially voted to support our efforts at their December House of Delegates meeting. The American Medical Student Association (AMSA) endorsed the PLNDP Consensus Statement this spring. You can find an updated list of the groups who have endorsed the Consensus Statement at:

American Medical Student Association (AMSA)

On March 15-19th, the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) held its 50th Anniversary National Convention, “Speak Up America! Health Care is Our Right!” in Washington, DC. Attended by over 1,500 physicians and physicians-in-training from around the nation, this meeting brought together activists to rally around a common theme: the need for a single-payer universal health care system. The highlight of the convention was the Rally on the West Steps of the Capitol where we were joined by members of Congress and other physician activists including Dr. Quentin Young in an exciting and well-attended rally to call Congress’ attention to the over 44 million uninsured Americans who suffer from inadequate access to health care.

AMSA is committed to prioritizing addiction as a critical health problem. As AMSA launches its collaboration with PLNDP, we look for ways in which to improve the state of medical education and activism concerning the problems of addiction. In the coming year in particular, we hope to survey a sample of our 30,000 members for their perceptions of the role of addiction in medical education in hopes of developing and recommending reform within the medical education system.

If you would like to become more involved in AMSA’s collaboration with PLNDP to rally around issues pertinent to addiction, please contact Michael Mendoza, AMSA Senior Trustee-at-Large


In February 2000, the public relations firm, Porter Novelli, was hired to provide strategic public affairs and public relations counsel to support PLNDP and its mission. A key component of this effort is the promotion and dissemination of the PLNDP Position Paper on Drug Policy to Capitol Hill, the Administration, and the Republican and Democratic presidential campaigns. Porter Novelli is also working with Hill leaders such as Rob Portman (R-OH), Chairman of the Speaker of the House’s Working Group on Drug Abuse, to educate other members of Congress on this issue and to encourage them to act as advocates of the PLNDP position. A Hill briefing with legislative staff and health policy reporters is scheduled for early May. Additional activities for publicizing the report to a wider audience include disseminating a press release about the Position Paper to health care and policy reporters and distributing an article about the report to various organizations representing PLNDP’s key target audiences for placement in their newsletters.

Porter Novelli is also working with PLNDP to market its latest video on drug policy, “From Hopelessness to Healing.” A core component of this outreach effort is to promote the video to local cable access stations. PLNDP’s Physician and Medical Student Associates are the perfect grassroots network to facilitate this task, as programming on these outlets is determined based upon requests made to cable operators. We are also encouraging PLNDP Associates to coordinate local seminars on this subject in conjunction with these broadcasts. If you are interested in participating, please contact Kathryn Cates-Wessel at the PLNDP National Project Office 401-444-1816 or

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