News Releases

March 30 2012.

Alaska Senators Introduce Bill to Advance Research in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

WASHINGTON, DC—Today U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Mark Begich (D-AK), Tim Johnson (D-SD) and Daniel Inouye (D-HI) introduced The Advancing FASD Research, Prevention, and Services Act to improve research, prevention, and services for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD).  FASD is an umbrella term that describes a range of physical and mental birth defects that can occur in a fetus when a pregnant woman drinks alcohol.  Alcohol exposure during pregnancy is a leading cause of non-hereditary cognitive disability. 

“Alaska is doing well in the fight against FASD, but this is clearly an instance where just being ‘good’ isn’t good enough,” said Sen. Murkowski, lead Republican co-sponsor of the bill.  “I’m proud to co-sponsor this important, comprehensive bill, because education is a key component, but not the only component.  Whether in small town or urban America, this bill also provides a support system for state and community outreach that deals with alcoholism head-on.”

“Alaska’s fetal alcohol syndrome rate fell 32 percent between 1996-2002 in no small part from efforts like this bill,” said Sen. Begich.  “The Advancing FASD Research, Prevention, and Services Act would continue to authorize funds through 2017 for the needed research, surveillance  and education to prevent this spectrum of disorders and help children and adults afflicted with the disease live a full and healthy life. I am pleased to stand with my colleagues today to introduce this important measure to help keep families in Alaska and across the country aware of the risks of FAS.”

“This disease is entirely preventable, and yet it is estimated that nearly 8,000 South Dakotans are living with FASD,” said Sen. Johnson. “While there is no known cure, the bill we introduced today seeks a balance between directing and coordinating federal resources to prevention activities and to services for individuals living with FASD and their families.”

The legislation would:

·                 Require the National Institutes of Health to develop a research agenda for the diagnosis, prevention and intervention of FASD

·                 Authorizes federal grants for pilot projects to determine and implement the best practices for educating children with FASD within the school system

·                 Directs NIH to conduct support activities to integrate case definitions into clinical practice, thereby improving surveillance activities, and to provide health care workers and others with resources to reduce alcohol-exposed pregnancies

·                 Authorizes development and broadcast of national public service announcements to raise public awareness of the risks associated with alcohol consumption during pregnancy

Funding would also be authorized to improve interventions and services for individuals with FASD who are incarcerated or otherwise involved in the justice system.

Federal grants would also be authorized for states, tribes, tribal organizations and other non-profit organizations to develop support services such as vocational training, housing assistance, and medication monitoring services for adults with the disease. 

People affected with these disorders face numerous medical, physical, educational, and financial challenges.  Difficulties can include severe learning disabilities, physical abnormalities, costly medical bills, and behavioral impairments. Diagnoses under the FASD umbrella include Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Alcohol-Related Birth Defects and Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder. 

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The Interagency Coordinating Committee on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (ICCFASD) announces the release of a consensus statement, Recognizing Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder (ARND) in Primary Health Care of Children. These recommendations are the result of a consensus development style conference which took place in November 2011, sponsored by the ICCFASD, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Recognizing Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder (ARND) in Primary Health Care of Children

Consensus Statement

Recognizing Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder (ARND) in Primary Health Care of Children



Announcing New Resources from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

A new ACOG website provides resources for women’s health care providers in identifying women who drink too much and in providing brief educational counseling to reduce or eliminate alcohol use. It also provides information for the public along with linked resources. This website is a one-stop choice, offering a cell phone app, downloadable patient information sheets, current news articles, treatment referral information, and more. The tools on this website were developed in response to the needs expressed by ACOG’s members. Some examples of tools you can find here include:

Alcohol screening and brief intervention at a glance – Pocket card (5”x8” plastic, hole-drilled to attach to a ring), contact Jeanne Mahoney via email:

Tips for working with women who drink

iPhone app for identifying and intervening with women who drink at risk levels

ACOG Committee Opinion: At risk drinking and alcohol dependence: Obstetric and gynecologic implications

Additional clinician resources

Community resources

Drug Policy for the 21stCentury

Drug Policy for the 21stCentury (PDF)

President Obama Signs Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act of 2012 (PDF)

Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services
Eric Holder, U.S. Attorney General
Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy

Illegal drugs not only harm a user's mind and body, they devastate families, communities, and neighborhoods. They jeopardize public safety, prevent too many Americans from reaching their full potential, and place obstacles in the way of raising a healthy generation of young people.

To address these challenges, today we are releasing the 2012National Drug Control Strategy - the Obama Administration's primary policy blueprint for reducing drug use and its consequences in America. The President's inaugural National Drug Control Strategy, published in 2010, charted a new direction in our approach to drug policy. Today'sStrategybuilds upon that approach, which is based on science, evidence, and compassion. Most important, it is based on the premise that drug addiction is a chronic disease of the brain that can be prevented and treated. Simply put, we are not powerless against the challenge of substance abuse - people can recover, and millions are in recovery. These individuals are our neighbors, friends and family members. They contribute to our communities, our workforce, our economy, and help make America stronger.

Our emphasis on addressing the drug problem through a public health approach is grounded in decades of research and scientific study. There is overwhelming evidence that drug prevention and treatment programs achieve meaningful results with significant long-term cost savings. In fact, recent research has shown that each dollar invested in an evidence-based prevention program can reduce costs related to substance use disorders by an average of $18.
But reducing the burden of our Nation's drug problem stretches beyond prevention and treatment. We need an all of the above approach. To address this problem in a comprehensive way, the President's new Strategy also applies the principles of public health to reforming the criminal justice system, which continues to play a vital role in drug policy. It outlines ways to break the cycle of drug use, crime, incarceration, and arrest by diverting non-violent drug offenders into treatment, bolstering support for reentry programs that help offenders rejoin their communities, and advancing support for innovative enforcement programs proven to improve public health while protecting public safety.

Together, we have achieved significant reform in the way we address substance abuse. And the Affordable Care Act will - for the first time - require insurers to cover treatment for drug addiction the same way they would other chronic diseases. This is a revolutionary shift in how we address drug policy in America.

Over the past three decades, we have reduced illegal drug use in America. Over the long term, rates of drug use among young people today are far lower than they were 30 years ago. More recently cocaine use has dropped nearly 40 percent and meth use has dropped by half. And we can do more. As President Obama has noted, we have successfully changed attitudes regarding rates of smoking and drunk driving, and with your help we can do the same with our illegal drug problem.

  • Click here to see videos and read more about innovative new alternatives to drug control supported by the Obama Administration

  • Click here to download the infographic: "Obama Administration Drug Policy: A Record of Reform"

A full copy of the 2012 National Drug Control Strategyis available here.

Katie Greene
Acting Associate Director

Quinn Staudt
Deputy Director for Stakeholder Outreach

Jacqueline Hackett
Deputy Director for Policy

The White House · 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW · Washington DC 20500 · 202-456-1111


Website aims to remove stigma of mental illness in black communities:

Atlanta — According to statistics, only 1 in 3 black people who need mental health care receive it. This exemplifies the
well-known fact that the black community faces significant barriers to mental health care. While issues such as racism,
institutional mistrust and lack of insurance are major obstacles, the barriers posed by stigma and misinformation are some of the most prohibitive. is designed to empower the Black community by promoting mental health and providing a safe place to learn about mental illness, discuss mental health issues, connect with other individuals and families dealing with mental illness, and find treatment.

"Stigma often stifles the conversation regarding mental illness in the Black community," explained Dr. Sarah Y. Vinson, a Harvard-trained, Black psychiatrist and founder and chief editor of "Families too often base decisions on little information or misinformation. We hope to change that by providing facts and facilitating dialogue around mental illness in an environment of relative anonymity and acceptance." visitors will find clinically based information and summaries of mental health research relevant to the Black community presented plainly. Site contributors represent a variety of disciplines and backgrounds, including psychology, psychiatry, social work, and people with first-hand experience with mental illness.

The site includes valuable resources like a library of mental illness descriptions written specifically for the Black
community, links to additional mental health and mental illness resources, and a growing directory of mental health
providers working with and within the Black community. The meat of, however, is its interactive discussion forums and articles.

Several recent postings have a back-to-school theme, including an article by a school psychologist addressing planning ahead and a video discussing school accommodations for mental health issues. Other postings include the first in a series of articles about anxiety by a black anxiety expert; a report on July's State of Black Mental Health Forum on Capitol Hill; a column by a New Orleans native, Hurricane Katrina survivor and psychiatrist-in-training about her personal experience with the disaster's effects on mental health; and an article reviewing some of the ongoing needs for mental health treatment in New Orleans post-Katrina.

"At, we appreciate the strengths of the Black community while acknowledging its unique
challenges, both in a broader social sense and specifically in matters of mental health," said Dr. Vinson. "We want to
help people stop looking at mental illness as shameful and provide the information they need to develop their strengths
and embrace the help that is available."