Innovators Combating Substance Abuse

An RWJF National Program

Field of Work: Substance abuse prevention, treatment and policy.

Problem Synopsis: In the late 1990's, substance abuse, including alcohol, tobacco and drugs, was the number one health problem in the country. The use and abuse of these substances resulted in more deaths, illnesses and disabilities than any other preventable health condition, according to a 2001 report from the Institute for Health Policy at Brandeis University. In 1995, the economic cost of alcohol abuse, smoking and drug abuse was $414 billion, according to that report.

Synopsis of the Work: Innovators Combating Substance Abuse (Innovators) (April 1998 through April 1009) fostered innovation in the substance abuse field by granting awards to established leaders in substance abuse prevention, treatment and policy to pursue work that might not otherwise be funded.

Key Results

  • The national program office developed an addiction art component to the Innovators program. This component featured several juried Art & Addiction Exhibitions that used art as a complement to science in understanding addiction and recovery.

  • National program office staff collaborated with Innovators to produce a book entitled Addiction Treatment: Science and Policy for the Twenty-First Century. Some 31 leaders in the substance abuse and addiction field contributed chapters to the book, including 12 of the Innovators.

  • The 19 Innovators wrote several books, book chapters and more than 90 articles published in journals such as the British Medical Journal, Pediatrics, Lancet, Addiction, American Journal of Public Health and Journal of the American Medical Association.

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