Magazine article The Alcoholism Report

Field Groups Take Varying Positions on Reorganization

Magazine article The Alcoholism Report

Field Groups Take Varying Positions on Reorganization

Article excerpt

Reaction among alcohol/drug constituency groups varied from enthusiastic support to ambivalence, and limited opposition.

With many groups still formulating a position, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) was the only major organization to spell out its apprehensions about the transfer of NIAAA and NIDA to NIH, while supporting the creation of an Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (ADAMHSA). In a statement on the Kennedy-Hatch bill, NCADD suggested that the alcohol and drug institutes be housed in a discrete agency in the Public Health Service as a means of "continuing progress in the arenas of alcohol and other drug research."

If moved to NIH, "these relatively modest sized research institutes will be forced to compete for funding with other research institutes of greater size with longstanding support from the scientific community," NCADD said, adding:

"Because of the stigma associated with alcoholism and other drug addiction, alcohol and other drug research have been slow to gain recognition and support from their colleagues in other scientific disciplines. While we acknowledge the elevation in stature which might result from inclusion in the NIH family, we are concerned about the ability of NIAAA and NIDA to compete with the larger and more well-established research institutes."

NCADD also expressed concern about an effort to "meld" the three of ADAMHA institutes into a single "behavioral" or "neuropsychiatric" research entity following any transfer to NIH.

"In particular, it is of vital importance to NCADD that there remains a discrete research institute to address alcoholism and other alcohol-related problems," NCADD said. "The overshadowing of the nation's alcohol problems by the preoccupation with illegal drugs and the peculiar status of alcohol as the nation's favorite legal drug clearly call for ongoing and discrete research attention to alcohol and its deleterious effects."

NCADD noted that while Administration officials have assured field representatives that there is no intent to consolidate the three institutes following their transfer to NIH, "one wonders whether these new and small acquisitions to NIH will be able to maintain their autonomy and institutional integrity in the years to come."

"Finally, NCADD has strongly supported increased research attention to prevention and treatment outcome research in alcohol and other drug problems," it said. "Given NIH's strong biomedical orientation, it would seem unlikely that these critical research avenues will receive enhanced attention at NIH."

As for the establishment of a new services agency, NCADD said such a move would "heighten the profile of alcohol and other drug prevention and treatment and more effectively consolidate a host of prevention and treatment initiatives which are now scattered among OSAP, OTI, NIAAA and NIDA."

"Moreover, the new ADAMHA's concentration on prevention and treatment issues will serve as an important focal point for the identification, evaluation and dissemination of effective prevention and treatment strategies," NCADD added.

The National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors (NASADAD), in testimony before the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee on the Kennedy-Hatch bill, said it supported the committee's "efforts to work with the Administration to support and strengthen the federal government's alcohol, drug abuse and mental health services-related activities by the creation of a new Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Services Administration (ADAMHSA). …

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