Think Tanks: Substance Abuse Center "Join Together" Merges With Califano's Controversial CASA

The Boston University-based drug treatment and prevention group Join Together is merging with the controversial National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, an outfit run for years by former Health, Education and Welfare Secretary Joseph Califano that reform groups have generally regarded as a propaganda mill. The two groups made the announcement Thursday.

"Merging Join Together into CASA will greatly strengthen CASA's ability to inform the American people of the economic and social costs of substance abuse and its impact on their lives, make CASA's research findings and recommendations widely available to those working on the front lines to prevent and treat substance abuse and addiction, and significantly expand our nationwide advocacy capacity," CASA said Thursday. "The combination of CASA and Join Together will produce a total far greater than the sum of the parts."

Join Together describes itself as "the nation's leading provider of information, strategic planning assistance, and leadership development for community-based efforts to advance effective alcohol and drug policy, prevention, and treatment." Among the organization's works is a 2003 report prepared in collaboration with the American Bar Association, lauded by drug policy reformers, in which the authoring panel called for a range of reforms to end discrimination against people in recovery from substance abuse, including repeal of the Higher Education Act's provision denying financial aid for college to would-be students because of drug convictions.

In an e-mail message to his list, Join Together director and founder David Rosenbloom, PhD said he was "thrilled about this new development." It would allow Join Together to expand its content making use of CASA staff and reports. "In fact, we have often looked to CASA research reports, conferences, demonstration projects and books as foundations for our own work." Rosenbloom will succeed Califano on the job as CASA's President and CEO.

Drug policy reformers will not be sorry to see Califano go into retirement. Reformers -- and others -- have criticized CASA's research on numerous occasions. For example, sociologist and drug researcher Craig Reinarman dissected Califano's anti-drug and anti-drug reform agenda in a 1997 article in the International Journal of Drug Policy. Califano had attacked Dutch cannabis policies, attempted to smear proponents as "legalizers," and countered them with what he called "facts" purporting to show that "legalization would be a disaster for European children and teenagers."

Califano is also a relentless purveyor of the widely discredited "gateway theory" that marijuana use leads to other drug use, and has resorted to such meaningless and debunked claims as "marijuana users are 85 times as likely to use cocaine as non-users."

In 2002, a Califano report on teen drinking came under fire from a different sort of critic: the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). SAMSHA politely slapped down CASA's sensational -- and widely-reported -- claim that underage drinkers accounted for 25% of total alcohol consumption. The real figure was less than half of CASA's, SAMHSA reported.

Hopefully CASA under Rosenbloom will follow in Join Together's sober footsteps rather than CASA's sensationalistic ones. If so, the new CASA may well become a force for positive change.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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I could care less for either one

What difference does it make that Join Together showed interest in reform in the past? These two organizations have gotten millions of dollars throughout the years and there isn't less psychoactive drugs problems, but more. I know what I'm talking because that's my specialty, and I know who gets what.

I don't give a hoot for organizations or so called "addiction experts" that keep promoting substance use and addiction either a disease or brain disease. Their claims can't be substantiated with scientific proof--and they know it. That explains their blind support for 12-step approach over science and evidence-based support.

Join Together goes even further to publicly support what seems a flawed study--and arranging numbers to suit their position. I will analyze the study they claim as the "proof" for AA and 12-steps "treatment"--which in reality is no treatment, but adjunct to therapy. In my overview of such study, I see it fails to do an equal match of approach-a support group against an office-based one on one treatment. The study also fails to have a control group of people without treatment. What makes the difference in 12-step self-help is group support-nothing else. In fact, there is so much data of drop outs of 12-steps groups than any other approach. If they were so interested in testing comparable approaches, why they didn't try with evidence-based self help groups such as SMART Recovery or SOS?

With all the millions that these two organization have gotten from government grants and foundations, they have not done nothing to reduce consumption or get people from the revolving door of prisons. There is research that actually debunks the myths of 12-step effectiveness.

They are more concerned about numbers that could "prove" their base-less claims, than really look at the validity of the process. But that's what these pseudo advocates want us to believe.

http://www.jointogether.org/news/research/summaries/2007/aa-boosts-sobri...

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