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April 16 Event Aims to Erase Stigma of Drug Addiction

CHICAGO --- An innovative medical education program to break down the stigma of drug addiction will begin at 5:30 p.m. April 16 with a dramatic reading by professional actors of Act III of Eugene O'Neill's “Long Day's Journey Into Night” at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. The event is free and open to the public, but registration is recommended.

The Addiction Performance Project from the National Institute on Drug Abuse will be held in the Hughes Auditorium at the Robert H. Lurie Medical Research Center of Northwestern University, 303 E. Superior St., on the Chicago campus.

The project, targeted to primary care providers as well as the public, aims to promote a healthy dialogue that fosters compassion, cooperation and understanding for patients living with addiction. The O’Neill play, about a family’s struggle with addiction, will be read by Kathryn Erbe, best known for playing detective Alexandra Eames in Law & Order: Criminal Intent, and actors Arliss Howard, Bob Braswell and Polly Noonan.

The reading will be followed by a brief expert panel reaction and facilitated audience discussion. Topics may include the challenges and opportunities in caring for drug-addicted patients, provider biases, and how best to incorporate screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment.

Of the 23.5 million patients who needed specialized treatment for a drug or alcohol problem in 2009, nearly 90 percent had not received it. Research suggests that primary care providers could significantly help reduce drug use before it escalates to abuse or addiction. However, many express concern that they do not have the experience or tools to identify drug use in their patients.

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