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NIDA News Release Contact: Beverly Jackson,
Michelle Muth or Blair Gately
FOR RELEASE, April 5, 2001

National Institute on Drug Abuse Celebrates the 5th Annual Prism Awards
Unique partnership between science and entertainment emphasizes success of science-based portrayals of drug abuse in the media

What began, five years ago, as a small breakfast meeting with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Entertainment Industries Council (EIC) has evolved into a partnership that is changing the way the entertainment industry depicts drug abuse and addiction in the media. The result of this partnership, which three years ago expanded to include the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJ), is the annual PRISM Awards. The PRISM Awards honor the entertainment industry for the success of its efforts to accurately depict drug, alcohol and tobacco use and addiction in music and TV. On Wednesday, April 4, 2001, NIDA and its partners hosted the 5th annual PRISM Awards in Los Angeles.

"For years, the entertainment industry has been the focus of intense scrutiny and criticism for its glamorization of drug abuse in the media," said NIDA Director, Dr. Alan I. Leshner. Today, through the annual PRISM Awards, the entertainment industry is applauded for its recognition of the power of scientific fact as the basis for film and music that entertains and informs, by accurately conveying the reality of drug abuse and addiction in the lives of everyday people."

NIDA supports the PRISM Awards by providing the entertainment industry with the latest science-based information on the effects of drug abuse and addiction, to help ensure that information communicated to the public via music, television and other mediums is based on scientific fact.

At this year's PRISM Awards, Dr. Leshner joined hosts actress Jaime Lee Curtis and comedian Richard Lewis, along with celebrity presenters Kelsey Grammar ("Frasier"), Melissa Joan Hart ("Sabrina"), Christopher McDonald ("Family Law"), Justin Berfield ("Malcolm in the Middle"), and Noah Wyle ("ER"), to present the awards.

2001 PRISM Award-winners included "Traffic" for Theatrical Film Feature, NBC-TV received the Larry Stewart Leadership and Inspiration Award, Cosby's "Raising Paranoia" episode for TV Comedy Series Episode, Sex and The City's "Quitting Smoking" for TV Comedy Series Continuing Storyline, Third Watch's "Know Thyself" for TV Drama Series Episode, Days of Our Lives' "Fetal Alcohol Syndrome" for TV Daytime Drama Series Storyline, and CBS Cares for TV Community Issue or Continuing Syndrome.

"The media has a powerful role to play in communicating the very real dangers of drug abuse and addiction, as seen in many of the award-winning efforts such as the movie Traffic, and episodes of Third Watch, Days of Our Lives, and others," said NIDA Director, Dr. Alan I. Leshner. "Perhaps the most rewarding aspect of our involvement with the PRISM Awards, as researchers and scientists, is the increased willingness and understanding by members of the entertainment industry of the value and importance of getting it right when communicating the effects of drug abuse and addiction. NIDA is pleased to join the EIC in recognizing the public service that is accomplished when these effects and potential consequences are accurately portrayed in the media."

Fifty-six nominees were selected from among a total of 248 submissions - a 57 percent increase in submissions over last year. The increase in submissions demonstrates the success of the PRISM Awards and reflects the increased awareness of the seriousness of drug abuse and addiction by the media.

"Through the unique partnership between NIDA and the entertainment industry, we see that when combined with the latest science-based research, otherwise merely interesting stories become popular, compelling, award-winning entertainment vehicles that have the power to raise awareness and influence perceptions about drug abuse and addiction," stated Dr. Leshner. "This is entertainment at its best, and each year we are pleased to be a part of this success best reflected in the PRISM Awards."

The National Institute on Drug Abuse is a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIDA supports more than 85 percent of the world's research on the health aspects of drug abuse and addiction. The Institute carries out a large variety of programs to ensure the rapid dissemination of research information and its implementation in policy and practice. Fact sheets on the health effects of drugs of abuse and other topics can be ordered free of charge in English and Spanish by calling NIDA Infofax at 1-888-NIH-NIDA (644-6432) or 1-888-TTY-NIDA (889-6432) for the deaf. These fact sheets and further information on NIDA research and other activities can be found on the Home page at

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