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Richard A. Rawson,
Détente in L.A.
Treating the worldwide problem of drug abuse
Nations may clash due to politics, religion, and cultural differences, but one unfortunate thing all share in common is the growing, worldwide problem of substance abuse. Disrespecting borders, illicit drug use has grown to the point that it’s estimated that some 200 million people or 5 percent of the world's population now use these substances.
In December, treatment providers from a far-flung and diverse cross-section of nations, including China, Colombia, Egypt, Israel, and Lebanon, met at UCLA to learn the best methods to fight the scourge of drug addiction, as well as to build lasting scientific and medical relationships that will ignore borders and transcend politics.
From Nov. 29 to Dec. 19, UCLA’s Integrated Substance Abuse Programs (ISAP), part of the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, conducted an international substance abuse training program‑‑trainers training trainers‑‑which will prepare participants to return to their home nations and, in turn, train others to teach local health care workers the best methods to treat substance abuse.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) selected ISAP to develop the training manuals now being used, and to organize a global network of 19 resource centers, called Treatnet, to address the growing need for accessible and quality drug treatment and rehabilitation services, including HIV/AIDS prevention.
Following an assessment of what type of training was needed around the world, ISAP developed a series of training volumes. Each volume consists of individual modules that focus on, for example, screening for substance abuse, behavioral treatment methods, or medical treatments.
“While the social and economic toll of drug abuse worldwide is staggering, the most efficient treatment practices are being underutilized,” said Richard Rawson, a professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences and associate director of ISAP. “These volumes contain our accumulated knowledge of the best practices identified by experts from around the world. By training the trainers who will return to their countries to teach others, we intend to initiate a cascade of knowledge that will improve the quality of substance abuse treatment globally.”
Having initiated the translation of the treatment manuals into their local languages, trainers met at UCLA and two other locations (United Kingdom and Australia) to learn how to teach providers the best methods to beat substance abuse.
“In the current environment of global conflict, we believe this effort contributes to the establishment of long-term, person-to-person partnerships that can not only generate solutions to substance abuse problems but also begin to build a foundation for understanding and cooperation between nations with otherwise adversarial relationships,” said Rawson.
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