Pioneer Voices


Bill InterviewingErnieKurtz5_2008.jpgMuch of what is known about the modern evolution of addiction treatment and recovery exists as oral history. The ephemeral nature of that knowledge became clear to me while researching my book on the history of addiction treatment and recovery in the U.S. There were several cases in which a key informant died in the weeks or months following my interview with them. There are richly detailed accounts in Slaying the Dragon that would not be there if those interviews had not occurred when they did. That was when I developed the idea of interviewing the major pioneers of addiction treatment and recovery to capture their ideas and voices for posterity.

When I launched my website in 2010, it seemed a perfect venue to create an archive where these interviews could be made available worldwide at the click of a mouse. Since then, I have posted more than 100 interviews with addiction treatment and recovery advocacy pioneers. I would like to call your attention to several of these recently posted interviews.

Dr. Stephanie Covington explores the evolution of her pioneering work in the development of gender-specific treatment and recovery support services in the United States. Her writings served as a precious guide to me in the years I was evaluating gender-specific addiction treatment programs in Illinois.

Dr. Jean Kilbourne describes the evolution of her landmark work exposing the marketing practices of the alcohol, tobacco and pharmaceutical industries, what such practices mean for people in recovery and how treatment programs can inoculate those they serve from such predatory manipulation. Her films and publications are must reading for anyone working in the addictions field. This interview is the amazing backstory to those resources.

An interview with Dr. Ernie Kurtz on researching A.A. history was filmed at his home and presented as a keynote at the 2014 AA History Conference in Sedona, AZ. This film is now posted (click here) as is an earlier interview with Ernie on the history of A.A. (click here). Both capture Ernie at his best and are highly recommended.

Karen Moyer and Brian Maus discuss the needs of children affected by addiction and the unique program they have developed to enhance the health and development of such children. The story of Camp Mariposa is an inspiring tribute to the power of personal vision and private philanthropy in addressing the far-reaching effects of addiction.

A.J. Senerchia is one of the leaders of a new organization, Young People in Recovery (YPR). Young people are playing an increasingly important role in the new recovery advocacy movement, and the interview with A.J. provides background on YPR and the role of young people in this larger movement. Very inspiring.

Dr. Joseph Westermeyer is a pioneer in cross-cultural addiction psychiatry. His work exerted a significant influence as Don Coyhis and I were doing the research that would become the book, Alcohol Problems in Native America: The Untold Story of Resistance and Recovery. In this wide-ranging interview, Dr. Westermeyer talks about his life and his evolving understandings of addiction, addiction treatment and addiction recovery in widely varying cultural contexts. The interview should be required reading for students of addiction medicine and addiction studies.

Dr. Joan Zweben has made significant contributions to the clinical treatment of addiction. She was an early voice calling for recovery-oriented psychotherapy within addiction treatment, and she has been one of the pioneers in elevating the quality and recovery orientation of medication-assisted treatment in the U.S. In this engaging interview, she describes her life and work.

At the near-end of my career, I have had the pleasure of learning insights gleaned from the lives of these and other pioneers in the addictions field. What I would have given to have had such access when I began this work in the 1960s. For those at all stages of your careers, here is such an opportunity. The 100+ interviews are posted here.