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NIDA. (1998, March 24). Science and Public Join Together to Confront Local Drug Abuse and Addiction Issues at Boston Town Meeting. Retrieved from

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March 24, 1998

When a popular Boston firefighter died recently, the local community was both shocked and bewildered by his tragic death. He was a devoted public servant and family man, the father of three. What stunned the community was that he died not from fighting fires, but from an overdose of heroin.

To help the Boston community better understand the complexities of drug abuse and addiction, and the most effective ways to prevent and treat them, a Town Meeting will be held on Thursday, April 2, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Boston Marriott Copley Place.

The Boston Town Meeting, Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction: Myths vs. Reality, is coordinated by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), National Institutes of Health. NIDA staff and local grantees will highlight some new research findings that can help individuals, families, and communities gain more insight into preventing and treating the often misunderstood illness of drug addiction.

"We know from research that drug abuse is a preventable behavior and drug addiction is a treatable illness," says Dr. Alan I. Leshner, NIDA Director. "One of NIDA's most important goals is to help the public better understand the nature of addiction and the means to prevent and treat it. Town meetings such as this one in Boston enable us to share our research findings--especially those about the actions and effects of drugs on the brain--directly with the public."

The Boston Town Meeting attendees will include scientists, civic leaders, policymakers, public officials, and drug abuse prevention and treatment professionals. Key drug abuse researchers will discuss trends and patterns of drug abuse in the Boston area, community attitudes toward alcohol and drug abuse, effective drug prevention and treatment strategies, and the impact of managed care. In addition, participants will consider how the results of research can be used to improve local responses to the problem and shape local and statewide policy. The general public is invited and encouraged to participate in an open discussion on the problem of drug abuse in the State of Massachusetts and the Boston area.

"The Town Meeting is a forum for local participants to advise NIDA on the kinds of research-based information needed at the State and local levels. In this way, we can make sure the research NIDA supports is both useful and used," Dr. Leshner adds.

The Town Meeting is sponsored by NIDA and Join Together/Boston University School of Public Health in partnership with:

  • Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Bureau of Substance Abuse Services;
  • Governor's Alliance Against Drugs;
  • Office of the Mayor, Policy on Substance Abuse;
  • Heller Graduate School at Brandeis University and Brandeis/Harvard Research Center on Managed Care and Drug Abuse Treatment;
  • McLean Hospital;
  • Harvard Medical School, Center on Addictions;
  • Boston College Graduate School of Social Work; and
  • WGBH, serving as Media Relations Partner for the meeting.

A $25 registration fee covers the cost of the Town Meeting and lunch. Registration information may be obtained from Traci Eng at Capital Consulting Corporation, 703-876-0496.

Members of the press who want to attend the Town Meeting, or to arrange an interview with Dr. Leshner or other participants, should contact the NIDA Press Office.

The Boston Town Meeting is the seventh in a series of NIDA-sponsored meetings in selected cities throughout the Nation to refocus the public's perception of drug abuse and addiction to one based on scientific research.