Google is remembering the incredible work of pioneering addiction psychologist Dr Herbert David Kleber with a Doodle on what would have been the 23rd anniversary of his election to the National Academy of Medicine.
Dr Kleber, who passed away just last year, was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on 19 June 1934. At the prompting of his father who had one time aspired to be a doctor himself, Dr Kleber attended Dartmouth College, where he studied pre-med and discovered his passion in psychology.
But, it wasn’t until he was assigned to the Public Health Service Prison Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky, after completing his psychiatric residency at Yale University, that Dr Kleber’s life’s mission really began.
These are four important things to know about the American psychiatrist.
He viewed addiction as a medical condition
Unlike many doctors of his time, Dr Kleber viewed addiction not as a moral failure, but as a condition that could only be treated through research, medication and therapy.
It was while treating inmates for addiction in Kentucky that Dr Kleber realised a new, scientifically backed approach was needed to successfully treat the condition – as the current method saw a majority of patients relapse shortly after release.
Dr Kleber eventually came up with a method he called “evidence-based treatment”, which relied on research and science to change the path of addiction.
His work was recognised by President George H W Bush
Dr Kleber’s success eventually caught the attention of President Bush, who appointed the psychiatrist the deputy director for demand reduction at the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
In the role, Dr Kleber implemented policies that led to a “decreased demand for illegal drugs through programs in prevention, education and treatment,” according to Columbia University.
He founded various centres aimed at treating addiction and wrote numerous papers on the subject
In addition to co-founding the National Centre on Addiction and Substance Abuse, Dr Kleber and his then-wife Dr Marian W Fischman established the Division on Substance Abuse at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons – which would later become one of the largest and most successful research programs on substance abuse in the country.
In 1996, Dr Kleber was elected to be a member of the prestigious Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Science.
Prior to his passing at the age of 84, Dr Kleber authored more than 250 papers and multiple books on the treatment of addiction.
He considered himself a “perpetual optimist”
Having dedicated more than four decades to the field of addiction treatment, Dr Kleber once remarked: “Of course I’m an optimist. How else do I work with addicts for 40 years?”
His optimism and tireless commitment to treating addicts is credited with saving numerous lives.