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Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies

PLNDP Physician Associate UPDATE
September 1998

News from the Project Office

Dear PLNDP Physician Associate,

This is the first of several PLNDP newsletters that you will receive. Enclosed is an action-oriented plan to accomplish the goals outlined in the PLNDP Consensus Statement. This effort focuses on, first, educating the medical profession and, then, taking action consistent with the Consensus Statement on a national, state, and local level. To make that statement a reality, it is necessary for physicians in communities across the country to become more active.

In the enclosed material, we suggest some opportunities germane to the Consensus. This initiative provides options from which you can choose to participate. The Physician Leadership group is asking you to explore the current substance abuse policies within the medical profession and in your community.

Endorsement of the Consensus Statement by state and county medical societies and chapters of national professional organizations is a priority—an important step to energize the discussion around the issues raised by our Consensus. In this way, we intend to engage medical organizations, rather than building a large new national organization.

We understand that the logistics of this initiative, in both its educational and action-oriented elements, are time consuming. Therefore, we encourage you to rely on your state or county medical society, or the local chapter of your national professional organization for assistance in obtaining relevant information. You can be an advocate for education and action with your medical society’s help.

In addition to your medical society, the PLNDP Project Office will assist you in any way we can. We are also interested in receiving feedback from you about your actions. The information you gather will facilitate the policy initiatives of the Physician Leadership group.

This past summer, some of you were automatically subscribed to an e-mail forum in the form of a listserve. This inadvertently caused inconveniences for which we honestly apologize; all Physician Associates have now been unsubscribed. We have established the following mechanisms to promote communication among Associates, the Project Office, and the PLNDP:

  • Enclosed is a FaxBack form for you to inform the Project Office and the Physician Leadership group of your findings and action.
  • Use the Project Office e-mail address plndp@brown.edu to ask us any questions you may have, or to tell us about your progress.
  • We have created a website section exclusively for the Physician AssociatesThis site includes forums in which you can interact with other Associates who are taking action.
  • To further facilitate communication among the Associates, we will establish the Physician Associate Directory, making the over 3,000 Physician Associates a resource for you. If you do not wish to have your name included in the directory, please indicate that preference on the enclosed card. Even if you remove your name from the Associates Directory, you will still receive the directory and future PLNDP newsletters.

Sincerely,

June E. Osborn, M.D.    
Chair
Lonnie R. Bristow, M.D. 
Vice-Chair
David C. Lewis, M.D.
Project Director

Research Activities

The next PLNDP Research Report entitled “Health and the Criminal Justice System” will focus on the interface between the criminal justice system and the delivery of health care, particularly addiction treatment. The material presented to the PLNDP members will address all facets of the criminal justice system ranging from community policing to prisons.

A team of researchers will describe the disjointed structure of the criminal justice system, its many agencies and departments, and their effect on health care and continuity of care. The research team includes a panel of experts in the field of health care in the criminal justice system.  The research report is expected to be ready for presentation in November. The following researchers have volunteered to participate:

  • M. Douglas Anglin, Ph.D., UCLA Drug Abuse Research Center
  • Steven Belenko, Ph.D., National Center on Addiction & Substance Abuse
  • David Farabee, Ph.D., UCLA Drug Abuse Research Center
  • Mary R. Haack, Ph.D., F.A.A.N., Center for Health Policy Research,  George Washington University
  • Douglas S. Lipton, Ph. D., National Development & Research Institutes, Inc., New York City
  • Craig T. Love, Ph.D., Center for Alcohol & Addiction Studies, Brown University
  • Peter Manning, Ph.D., School of Criminal Justice, Michigan State University
  • Norval R. Morris, Ph.D., University of Chicago Law School
  • Carol Shapiro, La Bodega, New York City
  • Donald S. Shepard, Ph.D., Institute for Health Policy, Brandeis University
  • D. Dwayne Simpson, Ph.D., Director, Institute of Behavioral Research, Texas Christian University
  • Constance Weisner, Ph.D., Alcohol Research Group, Berkeley, California
  • Ken C. Winters, Ph.D., Center for Adolescent Substance Abuse, University of Minnesota

Medical Student Survey

The PLNDP has conducted what is believed to be the first survey of medical students’ views on drug policy in the United States. Of 18 medical schools randomly selected, 16 agreed to participate and 1200 surveys, approximately a 40% return, were completed.  The survey shows strong support for treatment of drug addiction and general confidence that treatment is effective. Even among the medical students that strongly favor tougher sentencing for both drug users and drug dealers, more than half agree that treatment can be successful for a majority of users and over 80% favor increased funding for treatment services. Most medical students surveyed are simultaneously in favor of treatment of drug users and punishment of those who use and sell illicit drugs.

Policy Initiative

The release of PLNDP’s first major study on drug addiction treatment at the National Press Club in Washington, DC on March 17 has received a strong response from the news media, state and national organizations, Congress, and within the Clinton Administration.

The report triggered several hundred newspaper stories, was covered by ABC’s Nightline, CNN, National Public Radio, and the Associated Press, received a supportive press release from the White House Drug Policy Director Barry R. McCaffrey, renewed interest in Congressional hearings on the study, and produced countless requests for copies of the report.

The subsequent list includes some examples of the press coverage following the release of the PLNDP study:

  • ABC’s Nightline with Ted Koppel dedicated a full program to the study, including a long segment with PLNDP Project Director David Lewis, M.D.
  • An interview with PLNDP Vice-Chair Lonnie Bristow, M.D. in a national radio broadcast by F.A.I.R. (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting)
  • “Public Interest” on National Public Radio featuring Drs. David Kessler and David Lewis.
  • Another NPR broadcast with NIDA Director Alan Leshner, Ph.D., William Cope Moyers (Bill Moyers’ son), a recovering addict and Director of Policy at the Hazelden Treatment Center in Minnesota, and Dr. Lewis.
  • A report by the Washington bureau of Knight-Ridder Newspaper saying, “the nation’s current emphasis on punishment rather than treatment is fundamentally flawed and a costly mistake.”  They also quoted PLNDP Chair, June Osborn, M.D., who said, “We’re hoping we can rebalance the way we approach this enormous problem.”
  • The policy section of Bill Moyers’ series on addiction on PBS, “Close to Home,” which aired at the end of March, included a long interview segment with Drs. Osborn, Bristow, and Lewis.  In addition, Mr. Moyers has thoughtfully referenced the PLNDP project in many interviews he has done about the series.

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