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Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
CONTACT: Tom Riley / Brian Blake (202) 395–6618

February 26, 2002

DRUG CZAR SUPPORTS SENATOR JOSEPH BIDEN AND REPRESENTATIVE PATRICK KENNEDY'S EFFORTS TO EDUCATE HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS ABOUT SUBSTANCE ABUSE

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE) introduced S. 1966, "Health Professionals Substance Abuse Education Act" in the U.S. Senate. Representative Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) will introduce companion legislation in the House. Their legislation seeks to improve the ability of health care professionals to identify and assist their patients with substance abuse.

Recent studies have shown that many health professionals are unprepared to recognize substance abuse in their patients and intervene in an appropriate manner. Currently, only 56 percent of medical residency programs have a required curriculum in preventing or treating substance abuse. Drug use is an urgent public health issue directly tied to other public health epidemics such as the spread of Hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS, and the occurrence of child abuse and domestic violence.

"I am pleased that Senator Biden and Representative Kennedy are engaged in an effort to increase the knowledge of our health professionals about substance abuse and addiction," said John P. Walters, Director of National Drug Control Policy (ONCDP). "Our collective efforts to reduce substance abuse through education, prevention, and treatment are vital for the health and welfare of this nation. Training our health professionals to discourage drug use and to identify drug abuse enlarges the conduit through which prevention messages and effective treatment can be delivered to those who most need it."

Education is a fundamental principal of ONDCP's drug prevention and drug treatment initiatives as outlined in the recently released National Drug Control Strategy. Training can greatly increase the degree to which health professionals screen patients for substance abuse. It can also increase health professionals' effectiveness at identifying children and youth that are impacted by the addiction of a parent or other primary caregiver.

For more information on S. 1966, visit http://thomas.loc.gov

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