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Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA)


The Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (633 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017) was established in 1992 as a not-for-profit entity affiliated with the university. It was founded by Joseph A. Califano, Jr., a former secretary of health, education, and welfare in the Carter administration, and Herbert D. Kleber, M.D. CASA has been funded by major grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, as well as other foundations, private companies, and government agencies. Califano, who has had a long-term interest in substance-abuse problems, was a vigorous advocate of smoking cessation programs when he was a member of the Carter cabinet. In organizing CASA, he assembled a board of directors that includes many prominent people in politics, industry, academia, Advertising, and the media. Kleber, a well-known drug abuse researcher and former deputy director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under William Bennett and President George Bush, is executive vice president and medical director. Califano is president and chairman of the board.

The work of the center initially emphasized analysis of available data on the social and Eco-Nomic Costs of substance abuse (Alcohol, To-Bacco, and illicit drugs). The center then moved on to creating national demonstration projects, major policy papers on key issues in the substance abuse field, and research projects on treatment.

CASA has demonstration programs at thirty-eight sites in twenty-five cities and sixteen states. These demonstration programs include CASA START, a program to help thirteen- to eighteen-year-old children who are using alcohol, tobacco, or illicit drugs or who are at high risk of doing so. It involves collaboration between schools, police departments and community organizations, and is aimed at preventing substance abuse, improving school performance, and reducing delinquency among these children. CASA WORKS FOR FAMILIES is the first comprehensive national demonstration designed to help drug and alcohol addicted mothers on welfare achieve self-sufficiency. It is a sixteen million dollar, three-year demonstration that combines in a single course of treatment and training: drug and alcohol treatment, literacy and job training, parenting and social skills, violence prevention, health care, family services, and a gradual move to work. The program is being tested in eleven sites in nine states and will serve more than one thousand women and their children. More sites are planned.

Reports put out by CASA include: Substance Abuse and the American Adolescent ; Substance Abuse and the Mature Woman ; Substance Abuse and America's Prison Population ; Substance Abuse on the College Campus ; Substance Abuse and Sex ; Substance Abuse and Learning Disabilities ; and Substance Abuse in Rural America. Other projects include CASA's National Commission on Sports and Substance Abuse, which will produce a comprehensive analysis of substance abuse and sports in America; the National Evaluation of Substance Abuse Treatment (NESAT), which follows two thousand individuals in close to two hundred treatment programs from intake up to one year or more afterwards, to evaluate the effectiveness of drug and alcohol treatment programs; CATS, the Cocaine Alternative Treatment Study, which looks at the effectiveness of acupuncture as a treatment for cocaine in over 500 patients at six university sites across the U.S.; and an analysis of drug courts and their effectiveness.

Through articles both in the popular press and scientific journals, press conferences, and testimony before congressional committees, CASA conducts a continuing campaign to raise public awareness about the pervasiveness of and the Social Costs of Substance Abuse. The priorities for the organization are to explain to the American people the social and economic costs of substance abuse and its impact on their lives, to identify what can be done, which prevention and treatment programs work and for whom, and to encourage individual institutions to take responsibility to prevent and combat substance abuse.

(See also: Economic Costs of Substance Abuse ; Social Costs of Substance Abuse )

Jerome H. Jaffe

Revised by Herb Kleber

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