Recently, Google Doodle honored Herbert Kleber on the 23rd anniversary of his election to the National Academy of Medicine. Kleber is responsible for shaping modern addiction treatment to the United States. Without Herbert Kleber, we would not have the effective addiction treatments that we have right now.
Herbert Kleber’s Medical Background
When Kleber was a child, his father, who was once a doctor, encouraged him to be a doctor. During the first semester of his sophomore year at Dartmouth College, he felt like changing career paths as he found philosophy and literature more interesting. But, his father told him to give medicine one more year before changing his mind. After taking a psychology class, Kleber decided to keep pre-med and become a psychiatrist. Kleber graduated from Dartmouth in 1956 and enrolled in Jefferson Medical College. In medical school, his peers would make fun of Kleber for studying psychology over “real medicine.”
Herbert Kleber’s Introduction for Addiction Treatment
In 1964, Kleber completed his psychiatry residency at Yale University. While Kleber was expecting to be sent to the National Institute of Health, he was instead assigned to the Public Health Service Prison Hospital. This hospital opened in 1935 to serve patients with substance abuse. After working there, Kleber realized that the treatment options they were giving to patients were ineffective. It included “work” and group therapy only which were not working for most of the patients. 90% of them relapsed after they were released.
Herbert Kleber’s Progress Towards Addiction Treatment Work
Even though Kleber did not plan on a path towards addiction treatment medicine, he was asked by colleagues and peers for advice on the subject and decided to pursue it. He applied for a grant from NIH to conduct research into preventing and treating addiction. Kleber was awarded the grant to help develop a therapeutic community, methadone maintenance program, adolescence program, and community outreach program in New Haven, CT. The funds helped Kleber fund the Drug Dependence Unit at Yale University. In 1989, Kleber caught the eye of President George Bush and was appointed Deputy Director for Demand Reduction at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Kleber came up with programs focused on prevention, education, treatment, and supporting the uses of addiction treatment medicine. Kleber may have passed away last year at the age of 84, but the field of addiction treatment will never forget Kleber’s positive impact.
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