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NY State of Mind: McLellan, Army Therapy, Stimulus

December 8, 2009
by Daniel Guarnera
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There were three recent reports out of New York that caught my eye:

(1) The NY Times ran a profile today of Tom McLellan, former head of the Treatment Research Institute (TRI) and current Deputy Director for Demand Reduction at the White House Office of National Drug Control Strategy (with a title like that, it's a surprise his business cards aren't printed on 8.5x11 sheets of paper). Dr. McLellan is one of the most widely recognized researchers on treatment--he invented the Addiction Severity Index (ASI)--but the frame of the story is his personal experience with addiction, and particularly the overdose death of his youngest son last year. McLellan is quoted as saying that it was his son's death that led him to accept the position as the White House's second-in-command of drug policy.

The irony of the family of the leading addiction researcher suffering from the results of addiction is tragic, but the profile does an excellent job letting Dr. McLellan's distinctive personality (the article aptly uses the word "quirky") to show. He founded TRI in part because, he says, when his son needed treatment neither McLellan nor his researchers friends really knew what would be best for him: "What the hell are we doing?" he said. He's taken this intellectual and personal interest in addiction all the way to the White House, where one of his top priorities is expanding the screening and services people receive in primary care settings such as Federally Qualified Health Centers.

(2) There was a NY Times article yesterday about the fact that military mental health providers are not prevented from sharing information learned during therapy with the military command. Not surprisingly, this reduces patients' willingness to speak frankly with their therapists. Interestingly, Maj. Nidal Hassan--the alleged Ft. Hood shooter and an Army psychiatrist--reportedly told colleagues that he wanted to report soldiers who told him they committed war crimes, but he was discouraged from doing so.

(3) The Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) in New York State recently announced that it will use $500,000 of stimulus funding to train and certify 130 unemployed people as addiction counselors. Eight colleges and other training groups received grants. OASAS lists addiction counselors as one of the fastest growing job fields, and about 110,000 New Yorkers receive treatment services on any given day.

Has anyone else heard of innovative workforce development projects in this down economy?


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Daniel Guarnera

Daniel Guarnera is the Director of Government Relations for NAADAC, The Association for...