Dr. Herbert Kleber’s Doodle is Proof - Addiction Is Not Shameful

Published01 Oct 2019, 06:23 AM IST
Health News
2 min read

Addiction is no longer a thing to hide - certainly not when Google decides to honour a pioneering doctor who treated drug addiction.

Dr. Herbert Kleber was an American psychiatrist and pioneering substance abuse researcher, whose work spanned more than 50 years; a career which saw him studying the causes of substance abuse and developing treatments to reduce the effects of withdrawal.

With his lifelong work (well, more than half his life),Dr. Herbert substantially changed the way addiction is viewed and saved countless lives.

On the 23rd anniversary of Dr. Herbert's election to the National Academy of Medicine, Google on October 1 dedicated its Doodle to him.

Of course I’m an optimist...How else do I work with addicts for 40 years?
Dr. Herbert Kleber

Addiction was not something that always interested Dr. Herbert. But while working in a prison hospital in Lexington, Kentucky, he began to notice that the majority of patients would relapse shortly after release from hospital. It was then, that he began to develop a new approach to treat addiction.

He created what he himself called “evidence-based treatment." His approach towards treating addicts was also a sharp departure from his predecessors, who had seen addiction as more of a moral failure.

Instead, Dr. Kleber viewed addiction as simply a medical condition; wherein the addict should not be punished or shamed.

Dr. Kleber also focused a lot on research. He authored more than 250 papers and articles on addiction and its treatment and was co-editor of the American Psychiatric Press Textbook of Substance Abuse Treatment.

At Yale and Columbia University, Dr. Kleber mentored many promising researchers who went on to become leaders in the field of substance abuse.

With Dr. Kleber's research, he developed new approaches to help addiction patients successfully recover and avoid relapses. For this, he relied on administering medication and involving the help of communities.

Dr. Kleber went on to become Deputy Director for Demand Reduction at the Office of National Drug Control Policy. He also served as co-founder of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse.

His medical achievements aside, perhaps Dr. Kleber's greatest legacy will be in removing the stigma from substance abuse and firmly establishing substance abuse research and treatment as an important medical discipline.

Interestingly, Mr. Kleber's doodle appears just four days before his first death anniversary. He died Oct. 5, 2018, at the age of 84.

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