History of The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA)
Originally founded as The Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University in 1992 by Joseph A. Califano, Jr., former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare in the Carter administration and Chief Domestic Advisor to President Johnson, the organization focused on alcohol, tobacco, drug abuse and addiction, and assembled under one roof the skills needed to assess the impact of all addictive substances in all sectors of society. Today, Mr. Califano remains active with the organization and serves on its Board of Directors.
In the decades that followed its founding, the organization would distinguish itself as the preeminent leader in conducting and synthesizing research focused on improving the understanding, prevention and treatment of substance use and addiction.
Understanding the important role of families in preventing substance use, CASA launched Family Day in September 2001, a national movement to remind parents that frequent family dinners are an effective tool to help keep America’s kids substance free.
Top reports and publications
In 1993, CASA released its first report, The Cost of Substance Abuse to America’s Health Care System; Report 1: Medicaid Hospital Costs, which documented Medicaid hospital spending that is attributed to tobacco, alcohol and other drug use. This report was followed in 1995 by its first teen survey, titled National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse, reporting on American parental and teen attitudes about addiction and substance use.
In 2011, CASA released Adolescent Substance Use: America’s #1 Public Health Problem which declared teen smoking, drinking, misusing prescription medication and using illegal substances a public health problem of epidemic proportions.
CASA’s landmark report, Addiction Medicine: Closing the Gap between Science and Practice, released in 2012, revealed that addiction treatment is largely disconnected from mainstream medical practice. It examined the science of addiction and the profound gap between what we know about the disease and how to prevent and treat it versus current health and medical practice.
History of Partnership for Drug-Free Kids
The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids (originally the Partnership for a Drug-Free America) was the 1986 creation of marketing and media executives who believed that the persuasive power of advertising would be effective in preventing young people from trying substances.
Legacy of public service announcements
Under the leadership of former Johnson & Johnson CEO James E. Burke, the Partnership brought together the donated time and talent of advertising agencies, production companies, the SAG-AFTRA union and major television networks, radio stations, magazines and newspapers in the development and airing of Partnership public service advertising (PSAs). With iconic PSAs, including “Fried Egg” and “Long Way Home,” along with many ads featuring celebrities, prominent sports figures and real families impacted by addiction, the collective body of work is now the largest single-issue public service campaign in the history of advertising.
By the early 1990s, more than $300 million worth of advertising time and space was being contributed annually to these PSAs. Between 1987 and 1992, the years in which the Partnership’s pro-bono campaign began and achieved its peak media exposure, the percentage of 12th graders reporting having used “any illicit drug” in the past year fell from 42% to 27% — a decline of 36% (University of Michigan, Monitoring the Future survey).
Shift to directly help families
With profound shifts in the media landscape, however, it became more difficult to reach teens with prevention messages via pro-bono advertising. At the same time, a new generation of parents was in need of more information and practical help to prevent their children from becoming involved with substances.
As a result, in the early 2000s, the Partnership began to evolve from an organization focused primarily on public service campaigns to one dedicated to providing science-based resources and services to help parents address adolescent substance use. Its free bilingual helpline, has provided personal and compassionate support to thousands of families since its launch in 2011. The Partnership’s parent coaching program began several years later, and it continues to offer peer-to-peer support to parents seeking help for a loved one’s substance use or addiction. Amid the urgency of the addiction crisis, the organization introduced new solutions to help families, broadening its range of online resources and e-books, text-based support and online support communities available to parents and caregivers.