Pioneers We Have Lost (2015 Update)

Shoulders of GiantsIn 2013, I penned a tribute in Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly honoring recently deceased leaders who had exerted great influence on the history of addiction treatment and recovery in America. As 2015 comes to a close, it seems a fitting time to add to this list of pioneers we have recently lost. Here is a sampling of these men and women who made a difference in the addictions field through their life’s work.

Michael Boyle (1947-2015) was Chief Executive Officer of Fayette Companies, a behavioral health organization in Peoria, IL.  He was a leading champion of evidence-based addiction treatment and the integration of mental health and addiction treatment services.  He conceived and led the Behavioral Health Recovery Management Project—a project that exerted a great influence on the emergence of recovery management and recovery-oriented systems of care in the United States.  

Audrey Conn Kishline (1956-2014) founded Moderation Management in 1994 to promote a moderation-based approach for non-dependent problem drinkers. Media coverage of her book and presentations, her continuing personal struggles with alcoholism (including the deaths of two people in an alcohol-related crash), and her subsequent tragic death all fueled debates about abstinence versus moderation as approaches to the resolution of alcohol problems.   

Donald Edward “Mickey” Evans (1932-2014) was the founder of Dunklin Memorial Camp in rural Florida—a faith-based refuge (recovery colony) for men seeking recovery from addiction.  Mickey’s life and service were very influential in the Christian recovery movement and reflect the long history of resources outside the traditional treatment system to help individuals and families affected by addiction.

Jim Gillen (1954-2015) served as Director of Recovery Services at the Providence Center in Providence, Rhode Island.  He was a leading figure in the rise of a news recovery advocacy movement and the development of local recovery community centers.

William Glasser, MD (1925-2013) was a psychiatrist whose development of Reality Therapy exerted a profound influence on the treatment of addiction in the mid-twentieth century, particularly treatment within the growing network of therapeutic communities and Minnesota Model alcoholism treatment programs.

Ernie Kurtz, PhD (1935-2015) is best known for his books Not-God: A History of Alcoholics Anonymous, Shame and Guilt: Characteristics of the Dependency Cycle, The Spirituality of Imperfection, and Experiencing Spirituality (the latter two co-authored with Katherine Ketcham).  Ernie was the consummate A.A. historian and devoted the later years of his life to exploring the growing varieties of A.A. experience and alternative pathways of addiction recovery.

Nancy K. Mello, PhD (1935 -2013) cofounded the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Center at McLean Hospital (1974) and worked for more than 40 years. She and her husband, Dr. Jack H. Mendelson, conducted numerous studies on alcoholism and also published the first (1980) study on the potential use of buprenorphine in the treatment of opioid addiction.

Msg. William O’Brien (1924-2014) co-founded Daytop Village in 1963 and became a leading figure in the movement to develop therapeutic communities for the treatment of drug addiction.  He helped establish therapeutic communities in more than 60 countries and was one of the founders of the World Federation of Therapeutic Communities. 

Garrett O’Connor, MD (____-2015) served as  Medical Director of the Betty Ford Center’s Licensed Professionals Treatment Program, Chief Psychiatrist of the Betty Ford Center, and President of the Betty Ford Institute.  He taught in the Departments of Psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and at UCLA.  He was a champion of addiction training for primary care physicians and psychiatrists and had a deep interest in the cultural roots of alcoholism among the Irish.  

David Powell, PhD (1945-2013), at the time of his death, was teaching within the Department of Psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine.  He faithfully served the addictions field for more than four decades and was best known for his pioneering publications and presentations on clinical supervision and for his efforts to train addiction professionals in more than 80 countries.  His books include Clinical Supervision in Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counseling.

Beny Primm, MD (1928-2015) was the founder and long-tenured Executive Director of the Addiction Treatment and Research Corporation (Manhattan and Baltimore).  He was a forceful public health advocate during the early days of the AIDS epidemic, a highly respected proponent of medication-assisted treatment of opioid addiction, and a longtime leader within the American Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence.  He also served as Director of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment under President George Bush. 

Max Schneider, MD (1922-2014) was a leading figure in addiction medicine for more than 50 years.  He was also well known for his leadership on the boards of the California Society of Addiction Medicine, the American Society of Addiction Medicine, and the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence as well as for groundbreaking films on addiction that were widely used to educate patients, addiction professionals, and the public.    

Ed Senay, MD (1927-2014) was a pioneer in addiction medicine, who, in collaboration with Dr. Jerome Jaffe, championed a multi-modality system of addiction treatment within the Illinois Drug Abuse Program that was widely replicated in the 1960s and 1970s.  He mentored generations of aspiring addiction professionals (including myself), published innumerable papers, and four books, including Substance Abuse Disorders in Clinical Practice.   

Barry Stimmel, MD (____-2014) was the founder and long-serving director of the Mount Sinai Narcotics Rehabilitation Center and the founding editor of the Journal of Addictive Diseases. He also served as a consultant to the White House Office on National Drug Control Policy. His books included Alcoholism, Drug Addiction, and the Road to Recovery:  Life on the Edge.

Doug Talbott, MD (1924-2014) was the founder and first medical director of Talbott Recovery Campus – an Atlanta-based addiction treatment program that specialized in the treatment of impaired physicians and other impaired professionals. Dr. Talbott was a key figure in the early development of the American Society of Addiction Medicine.

Betty Ann Weinstein, PhD (1941-2013) taught at the Catholic School of Social Work and the Rutgers Summer School of Alcohol & Drug Studies. Generations of students benefited from her papers and presentations on new diagnostic tools and the clinical management of denial.     

Charles Winick, PhD (1922-2015) was a sociology professor who challenged prevailing views of heroin addiction in the 1960s, with his New York State Narcotics Commission studies concluding that most people addicted to heroin  “matured out” of addiction without professional assistance.  He also collaborated with Dr. Marie Nyswander on developing a clinic for the treatment of addicted jazz musicians in New York City and served during the 1950s on the board of the National Advisory Council on Narcotics—the umbrella organization of Narcotics Anonymous in New York City.   

There is a way that the reach of our lives can be extended through the influence we exert upon others and, if we are fortunate, on the larger unfolding of history.  The men and women above are among those who achieved such extended influence.  That reach is something to which we can each aspire.