Original Voice

Physician Addiction Programs Show Substantial Promise for Addiction Treatment

By Stephen K. Talpins, CEO, NPAMC

As NPAMC looks to identify and create model programs that have the greatest impact on reducing the rate of alcohol misuse and crime, treatment-based programs are an area of focus.

At the NPAMC conference in June, held in Washington, D.C., Dr. Robert DuPont, president of the Institute for Behavior and Health and former director of the office of National Drug Control Policy and the National Institute of Drug Abuse, spoke to the renewed emphasis of the Federal government on the connection between alcohol addiction and crime. One of the most promising models for addiction treatment, according to DuPont, are physician addiction programs, which have seen a phenomenal success rate throughout the U.S. The first national study of these programs reported that:

  • Participants were tested and monitored for alcohol and drugs for an extraordinary length of time—5+ years
  • 78% were fully compliant the entire 5 years
  • Only ½—11%—of those who had a positive test or relapse did so more than once

Good monitoring with substantial leverage is the distinguishing factor in the physician programs. The consequences are immediate and certain without being what DuPont described as “Draconian.” Those who tested positive were immediately removed from practice and sent to inpatient treatment, but they did not lose their license.

DuPont also discussed DWI/Drug Courts and a program in Hawaii called HOPE (Hawaii’s Opportunity Probation and Enforcement), which utilizes an approach similar to the physician addiction model and applies it to criminal offenders, including intensive monitoring and treatment support. The results of both programs, like South Dakota’s 24-7 Sobriety Program, are outstanding.

According to DuPont, these programs show substantial promise for alleviating the the revolving door created by drug- and alcohol-involved offenders throughout the U.S. For more information on DuPont and these programs, go to www.ibhinc.org.