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Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies

PLNDP Physician Associate UPDATE
November 1999

Dear Colleagues,

Early this summer we submitted two major grants to support the next two years of the PLNDP project. We are pleased to announce that we have been awarded continued support from The   John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. These grants will help to direct our efforts to the state level, as well as the federal, in hopes of making local changes through grassroots support from Physician Associates such as yourself, Medical Student Associates, and medical societies.

From the beginning of the PLNDP project, our philosophy has not been to create a new national organization, but to engage the leadership of medicine within their existing organizations.  Our strategy is to institute change within the system, rather than competing with existing organizations. Since we have been successful in our initial efforts – conveying our message, gaining the attention of policymakers, and beginning to engage a variety of professionals and disciplines and the public – now is the best time to expand our activities beyond PLNDP Physician Associates, Medical Student Associates, and medical societies  to collaborate with non-physician groups such as judges’ associations, bar associations, and community coalitions.  This next step is a crucial element in establishing an infrastructure for successful policy change.

Currently, we have the endorsement of fifteen state and county medical societies, with several other states pending. In addition, the AMA is considering the endorsement of the PLNDP Consensus Statement at its upcoming meeting.  All of the endorsing medical societies, as well as other    organizations, are listed on the back of this newsletter. Thanks to those of you who have facilitated our success with these organizations.  We urge you to continue your efforts to get endorsement of our consensus from other state medical societies and national professional organizations.  In addition, we encourage you to continue recruiting more PLNDP Physician Associates. You can find information and applications under “Keeping Informed: Physician Associates” and “Keeping Informed: Medical Student Associates” on our website.

We are in the final stages of developing two educational resources that should increase awareness to further the goals of the PLNDP.  The first, “Physician Leadership on National Drug Policy: Position Paper on Drug Policy” is based on our Consensus Statement and provides specific policy recommendations and supporting research. The position paper will be published this fall.  The second resource is a twenty-one minute video entitled, From Hopelessness to Healing, which has been prepared specifically for local and national cable stations.  This video integrates concepts from the first two PLNDP videos, but it is designed to educate a wider audience with hopes of gaining their support.

Keep in mind that we still have the first two videos and the PLNDP Action Kit available for educational purposes.  Both videos have received overwhelmingly positive responses from many national organizations, as well as from practicing physicians and PLNDP Physician Associates. The first video, “Drug Addiction: the Promise of Treatment,” explains addiction as a chronic disease, and the second video, “Trial, Treatment, and Transformation,” presents research on substance abuse treatment and the criminal justice system. The PLNDP Action Kit includes graphics summarizing PLNDP research. These resources can be requested online, by email at, or by phone at 401-444-1817.

Overall, we have received highly positive feedback from both PLNDP Physician Associates and Medical Student Associates. We value your suggestions and encourage your active participation.


David C. Lewis, M.D.
Project Director

Current News from the Project Office

PLNDP Colloquium at the Aspen Institute

The PLNDP leadership met June 13-15, 1999 at the Aspen Institute.  An important goal of this meeting was to facilitate dialogue among various disciplines affected by national drug policies. To this end, leaders representing law, criminal justice, addiction medicine, corporate, healthcare policy, community coalition, and treatment were present.  A sampling of the attendants representing these areas include:

  • Hoover Adger, Jr. MD, MPH, President of the National Association for Children of Alcoholics, Former Deputy Director of the ONDCP
  • Richard F. Corlin, MD, Speaker of the American Medical Association House of Delegates, Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of California-Los Angeles School of Medicine
  • Thomas A. Clark, JD, Past President of the American Judges Association
  • Harlon L. Dalton, JD, Professor at Yale Law School
  • Sally Hillsman, JD, Deputy Director of the National Institute of Justice
  • Robert Hunter, MD, Corporate Medical Director of Shell Oil Company
  • Alan Leshner, PhD, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse
  • John S. Saylor, Manager of the Employee Assistance Program for American Airlines
  • Hubert Williams, President of the Police Foundation

The meeting was successful, with participants responding positively to the idea of working together to influence drug policy. An AP reporter present at the meeting provided us with coverage that appeared in newspapers nationwide.  The enthusiasm following this meeting has reinforced the need to continue our endeavor towards more effective treatment policies.  For a full list of the participants and further information on the Aspen Colloquium, click here.

PLNDP Video for Cable

A twenty-one minute video, which combines footage from the PLNDP’s past two videotape reports, “Drug Addiction: The Promise of Treatment” and “Trial, Treatment, and Transformation,” has been developed for both local and national cable stations.  This video entitled, From Hopelessness to Healing, reports on recent studies supporting the cost and effectiveness of treatment programs versus incarceration and highlights recovering drug addicts who benefited from alternatives to incarceration. If you are interested in broadcasting the latest PLNDP video on your local cable television station, please contact Kathryn Cates-Wessel by email at or by calling 401-444-1816.


Thus far, the medical societies that support our consensus are:

California Medical Association Colorado Medical Society
Medical Association of Georgia Kentucky Medical Association
Maine Medical Association MedChi
Maryland State Medical Society
Nebraska Medical Association
New Hampshire Medical Society
Medical Society of New Jersey
Oklahoma State Medical Association
Rhode Island Medical Society
South Dakota State Medical Association
Tennessee Medical Association
Pima County Medical Society (AZ)
Sacramento-El Dorado Medical Society (CA)

National professional organizations endorsing our consensus are:

American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry
American Association of Community Psychiatrists
American Psychiatric Association

Policy Update

On June 7, 1999, President Clinton directed the U.S. Office of Personnel Management to achieve parity for insurance coverage of both mental health and substance abuse for the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) by 2001.  The FEHBP is the largest employee-sponsored health insurance program in the country, covering about 9 million people, including federal employees, retirees, and their families.  The President noted that the FEHBP will set a good example for other employers and the insurance industry, encouraging them to cover the costs for treating mental health and substance abuse problems in the same way they cover other health costs.  The President was also careful to point out two facts: (1) parity is not only beneficial, but also affordable; and (2) mental health and substance abuse health care costs will be appropriately managed, in much the same way other health care costs are already managed. For more information on parity, you can review the PLNDP Parity Fact Sheet that was enclosed with your September 1998 newsletter on the web.

Physician Associate Directory on the Web

We are pleased to announce that the PLNDP Physician Associate Directory on the web is up and running. As mentioned in previous newsletters, the Directory has been created to promote contact among Physician Associates.  We would like to encourage you to share your ideas and combine efforts with other physicians both in your local area and nationwide. For your protection, the Directory is not linked to any of the PLNDP webpages or to the Physician Associate website.  In order to access the Directory, please contact the PLNDP program office at or phone 401-444-1817.

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