One of the most dangerous and addictive drugs in the country
is fully legal and in many instances condoned. The dangers posed
by alcohol abuse form the core of the first installment of new lecture
series that debuts, Friday, Nov. 1.
“Addiction Drives Trauma” is the name of the new series,
sponsored by the Department of Emergency Medicine. It is part of
Emory’s Grand Rounds, but the scope of Addiction Drives Trauma
is a bit larger than those lectures, which cater primarily to a
The presenters at the first event will be William Moyers, a former
journalist, recovering substance abuser and vice president of external
affairs for the Hazelden Foundation, and Christopher Noe, state
executive director for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Georgia.
The presentations will take place at 1 p.m. in Grady Hospital’s
Steiner Building auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.
“I don’t think it’s well known how large a role
substance abuse plays in the number of cases seen in emergency rooms,”
said Roy Ary, assistant professor of emergency medicine and cochair
of the committee (called the Addiction Intervention Group) that
put the series together.
“Much of the trauma in society has some element of substance
abuse involved,” said fellow cochair Marlena Wald, research
associate and research program director in emergency medicine. “If
we could get rid of alcohol and substance abuse issues, 911 calls
would drop. Emergency departments would be easier places in which
Domestic violence, drunk driving and assault are just three things
that can send patients to emergency rooms, and each can draw a causal
tie to perpetrators who are substance abusers. While drug abuse
has an undeniable stigma attached and many abusers are encouraged
to seek treatment, the fact that alcohol is legal makes treating
its addiction more complicated.
“We tend to overlook alcohol because it’s legal,”
Ary said. “It’s difficult to get patients to realize
that there is a problem.”
Moyers, who describes himself as a “recovering alcoholic and
addict,” (see First Person, page 2) will speak on “The
Great Awakening: A History of Substance Treatment in American Medicine.”
A print and television journalist for 10 years, Moyers now works
at the Hazelden Foundation, a nonprofit organization that works
with treatment for chemical dependency.
“He has an interesting take on how people who have chemical
dependency problems are viewed in society,” Wald said.
Georgia’s MADD executive director since August 2001, Noe’s
address is titled “The Impact of Treatment Failure on the
State of Georgia.”
Wald readily admits that she has a personal stake in this particular
series. Her parents were killed by a drunk driver. The tragedy made
her rethink her own life’s course. She quit her job working
in the health sciences library at the University of Georgia and
entered the Rollins School of Public Health, where she earned her
MPH. She has worked in the Department of Emergency Medicine for
“If the man who killed my parents had received proper treatment,
maybe be wouldn’t have been driving an 18-wheeler while intoxicated,”
The appearance of Moyers and Noe is the first of what will be three
events that make up Addiction Drives Trauma. In February 2003, the
series’ second installment will look at research being done
locally that delves into the cost and prevalence of substance abuse.
In April, the final program will explore how alcohol and substance
abuse drives domestic violence.