FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: CONTACT: Tom Riley / Brian Blake (202) 3956618
February 26, 2002
DRUG CZAR SUPPORTS SENATOR JOSEPH BIDEN AND REPRESENTATIVE
PATRICK KENNEDY'S EFFORTS TO EDUCATE HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS ABOUT SUBSTANCE
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
"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.