National drug czar visits local substance abuse program

Kerlikowske lauds 'balanced approach' such as that employed at Denver EFFECT
By Staff

Denver EFFECT, a substance abuse treatment program serving Denver families, last week hosted a visit from Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Denver EFFECT (Entire Family-Focused Effective Comprehensive Treatment) was established by the Denver Department of Human Services in partnership with the Addiction Research and Treatment Services (ARTS) program in the department of psychiatry at the School of Medicine and Arapahoe House.

During the visit by President Obama's drug czar to the ARTS Outpatient Women's Treatment Services clinic, he spoke about the White House's position on drug addiction. "This administration is looking at addiction as a disease, not a moral failure," he said. "It's much more complex and needs a balanced approach and strategy."

Drug use, Kerlikowske said, is at critical proportions. According to a 2007 report, overdose deaths are now greater than gunshot wound deaths. Drugged driving is now more common than drunk driving; a recent report indicated 16 percent of people operating vehicles are under the influence of drugs.

Denver EFFECT accepted its first family in March 2008 and now serves 40 families with a total of 84 children. The program shows that from enrollment in the program through discharge, clients make significant progress in their responses to family conflict, alcohol and drug use, and psychological and emotional problems.

"Participation of family members in substance abuse treatment has been found to result in higher rates of treatment completion, as well as better treatment outcomes, including a reduction in relapse," said Eric Ennis, senior instructor of psychiatry and director of the ARTS Adult Outpatient Services program at the School of Medicine. "Through Denver EFFECT, family members can gain a clearer sense and understanding of addiction and recovery while feeling more in control of how they can help their loved one through this challenging time. Family members also get the much-needed professional support that is often missing from other approaches."

For more information about Denver EFFECT, contact Program Director Lynne Ford at 720-944-1254.