Find Events Find People Find Jobs Find Sites Find Help Index


October 28, 2002

Lecture series to address addiction

By Eric Rangus

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 medical audience.

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 to work.”

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 six years.

“If the man who killed my parents had received proper treatment, maybe be wouldn’t have been driving an 18-wheeler while intoxicated,” Wald said.

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.