Treating Addiction Cuts Health Care Costs: Let’s Put Our Money Where The Savings Are

The national debate on health care reform has overlooked an area of vast potential savings—the treatment of substance abuse. Untreated or under-treated substance abusers are world-class consumers of health care dollars; they are repeat customers, who crowd emergency rooms and overwhelm clinics. A recent study by CASA, Columbia University’s National Center on Addiction and Substance…

My Own Joan of Arc

More than 15 years ago, Joan Hajjar was living on the edge. Homeless and without hope, her daily existence revolved around her next drug or drink. Determined to beat her addiction, she entered Phoenix House in 1993, where she found the tools to reclaim her life. Now serving as director of Phoenix House’s AmeriCorps and…

DJ AM: Why He Went Too Far

When I learned about the death of DJ AM—the celebrity spinner who struggled with addiction, but stayed sober for over 11 years—I felt the tragedy at the gut level. I have been in the substance abuse field for over 20 years, first as a treatment provider and then as a researcher. But it is through…

Coming Clean About “The Cleaner”

Back for a second season is A&E’s hit series “The Cleaner,” with Benjamin Bratt starring as an “extreme interventionist,” a character based on the life of the show’s co-executive producer Warren Boyd. What’s encouraging about “The Cleaner” is the exposure the series gives to drug misuse and the nature of addictive behavior. With more than…

Michael Jackson: Rx for an early death

Michael Jackson’s premature death has shocked the world. His talent was so transcendent, it’s difficult to understand how his last decades could be so marked by severe drug misuse that it has cut short his life. Those who knew him tell of his physical and psychic pain. But most addicts suffer psychic pain — often…