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Campus News
Your faculty and staff news since 1965
Current Issue: November 11, 2002
Volume 38, Number 9

UNM awarded $10 million for drug abuse treatment research

By Steve Carr

UNM has been named as one of 17 nationwide sites linked in a Clinical Trials Network to improve community-based treatment of drug abuse and dependence. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) recently announced the new five-year award. 

With start-up funding of $1.7 million, and an estimated $10 million over a five-year period, this is one of the largest addiction research grants in the state’s history, said Dr. William Miller, program director and distinguished professor of psychology and psychiatry.

The grant funds a partnership between the Clinical Research Branch of UNM’s Center on Alcoholism, Substance Abuse and Addictions (CASAA) and seven community treatment programs in Albuquerque, Española, Gallup and Santa Fe.  Together, they form the “Southwest Node” of the network.  The other two newly-funded nodes are based at Harvard University and the University of California, San Francisco.

“This is exactly the kind of new initiative envisioned in UNM’s Strategic Plan,” said UNM Provost Brian L. Foster. “It is interdisciplinary, and involves our partnering with community programs around the state to improve the health of New Mexicans.”

“This is an exciting opportunity for New Mexico,” Miller said.  “We will be testing state-of-the-art treatment methods right in the front-line clinics where ultimately they have to be applied.” 

A central purpose of the Clinical Trials Network is to implement science-based treatments in ongoing treatment systems.

“Two things make this program unique. The opportunity to do high quality research in real world clinical settings and to disseminate state-of-the-art treatments to well-trained clinicians.”

Dr. Michael Bogunschutz

The New Mexico treatment programs partnering in this new collaboration include Ayudantes (Española and Santa Fe), Counseling and Psychotherapy Institute (Albuquerque), The Life Link (Santa Fe), the Na’nizhoozhi Center, Inc. (Gallup), and Turquoise Lodge (Albuquerque). Also participating are two public treatment programs operated by the UNM Health Sciences Center.

“A unique aspect of this program is that it is a two-way collaboration,” said Carol Luna-Anderson, executive director of The Life Link.  “It not only brings the best science into our communities, but the treatment programs themselves have direct input into what research is needed and done at a national level.” 

The governing board of the Network is comprised of research scientists and treatment program directors, in equal proportions.  Luna-Anderson and Miller will serve on the national committee.

Co-director of the Southwest Node is Dr. Michael Bogenschutz, associate professor and vice chair for Addiction Services in the Department of Psychiatry at UNM’s School of Medicine.  Bogenschutz and the department bring expertise in research and use of medications in detoxification and substance use disorder treatment.

“Two things make this program unique,” Bogunschutz said. “The opportunity to do high quality research in real world clinical settings and to disseminate state-of-the-art treatments to well-trained clinicians.”

The Clinical Trials Network, in its third year of operation, is already using treatment methods developed and tested at CASAA, including motivational interviewing, a counseling method introduced by Miller in 1983 to strengthen people’s commitment to change, and community reinforcement approach, brought to CASAA in 1985 by Dr. Robert Meyers, clinical coordinator for the node.