Director of Communications
Office of University Communications
Nation’s Top Drug Officer
Gets Briefing From College of Medicine
WASHINGTON (June 21, 2010) -- The nation’s
top drug officer received a briefing by Howard University College of
Medicine educators on their efforts to fight drug and alcohol dependency
Monday morning. The visit was part of a tour of various efforts
in the District of Columbia to combat drugs and rehabilitate offenders.
R. Gil Kerlikowske, director of the White
House Office of National Drug Control Policy, met with Dr. Robert E.
Taylor, dean of the College of Medicine and founder of the University’s
Alcohol Research Center, Dr. Eve Higginbotham, senior vice president
and executive dean for Health Sciences, as well as other members of
Taylor’s team to familiarize himself with the Screening, Brief Intervention
and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) program.
SBIRT is a federally funded program that
trains medical residents how to identify people with substance abuse
problems and how to intervene appropriately. Howard is one of 11 recipients
of a five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Since
receiving the grant in 2008, Howard has trained 146 medical residents
Kerlikowske’s visit to Howard was part
of a tour of four facilities in the District of Columbia, which included
the D.C. Superior Court for Family Treatment, the District’s Youth
Work Intervention program and the Behavior Health Urgent Health Care
Kerlikowske said his tour had two purposes.
“We travel all over the world looking
at drug treatment, prevention and enforcement programs,” he said.
“I felt we needed to spend more time in our own backyard. Second,
we are following a model using prevention, treatment and the criminal
justice system. The District has already done a good job of blending
Taylor said he wanted to drive home two
important points to Kerlikowske during his group’s presentation.
“I wanted him to understand that Howard
is at the forefront of addiction medicine,” he said. “We use
the latest technology and a personal touch to advance our social and
academic mission of fighting drug and alcohol addiction.
“Also, we also wanted him to know that
we here at the College of Medicine ‘get it’ that alcohol and drug
addiction is a big public health problem.”
Substance abuse costs the nation an estimated
$346 billion annually in health care expenditures, lost earnings and
costs associated with crime and accidents. Studies have shown using
SBIRT in emergency rooms and other health care settings can reduce substance
abuse related health problems and injuries.
Routine screening helps identity those
patients with substance abuse or dependence as well as those patients
who are not yet dependent, but who may be at risk for future problems.
Despite the proven effectiveness of screening
for substance abuse, studies also show that less than half of those
eligible are receiving services in alcohol screening.
Kerlikowske, former chief of police in
Buffalo, N.Y., and Seattle, is the nation’s 6th “drug
czar” and coordinates all aspects of federal drug control programs
and implementation of the president’s National Drug Control Strategy.
He will also appear on Howard University
Radio WHUR, 96.3 FM, at 7:10 p.m. Tuesday, June 22, to discuss
the nation’s drug policy and efforts with Daily Drum host Harold Fisher.