Today’s Google doodle isn’t just another neat drawing. For addiction recovery advocates all over the world, today’s global doodle is the recognition of an American hero. It honors the life of addiction treatment pioneer Dr. Herbert Kleber. As a psychiatrist in the 1960’s, Kleber played a leading role in transforming attitudes about addiction and its treatment. Dr. Kleber relied on research-backed methods such as medication and therapeutic communities. Unlike most doctors of his time, he viewed addiction as a medical condition and not a moral failure. And so today, October 1, 2019, Google is honoring Kleber by celebrating the 23rd anniversary of his election to the National Academy of Medicine with their doodle.
After completing medical school in 1964, Kleber spent two years working at a National Prison Hospital in Kentucky, where thousands of drug users were incarcerated. Nine out of 10 patients relapsed within three months of leaving jail. “I learned that the techniques then used in treatment were not very effective and that new approaches to treatment were desperately needed,” he later told reporters.
At that time, addiction attracted little interest from researchers. Kleber set up a dedicated drug dependence unit at Yale University to study drug abuse and treatment methods. He also co-founded the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. Kleber was named Deputy Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy in 1989. At the time, methadone was widely criticized but Kleber helped to win support for it, as well as championing education and prevention programs.
The artist behind today’s doodle is Jarrett J. Krosoczka who vividly remembers confronting his mother about her drug use when he was a teenager. After dealing with her being absent, incarcerated and moving through half-way houses as an opioid addict, Krosoczka admits he felt abandoned and scared. His mother began using drugs when she was 13 years old and it ultimately led to her death. He says that Dr. Kleber “followed a calling in his life to study patients with addictions, like my mother.” For Dr. Kleber, it was an unexpected turn in his professional career as a psychiatrist. However, his work on treating addiction brought the scientific community to the understanding that drug abuse is a psychological condition. Krosoczka also said that he’s grateful to Dr. Kleber because his work helped him better understand his mother’s plight.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please understand that freedom from drugs and alcohol can start today. It is important to consult a caring professional that is committed to providing education like Dr. Kleber did so that you are assured of receiving the most effective services available. Today, we know that personalized care is an important part of meeting the needs of patients and addressing their co-occurring mental health concerns. Evidence-based therapies like the ones Dr. Kleber dedicated his life to are really the keys to achieving long-term sobriety and lifelong recovery.
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