May 1971

Developing an Epidemiologic Field Team for Drug Dependence

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, University of Chicago, and the Department of Mental Health, State of Illinois, Chicago.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1971;24(5):389-393. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1971.01750110001001

We are concerned with the question of how local treatment programs for narcotic addiction might organize their therapeutic activities around the goal of reducing incidence and prevalence of this disorder in defined communities. Toward this end, they examined program models developed for control of infectious diseases such as syphilis. A key element in the venereal disease control system is the epidemiologic field team which engages in intensive case-finding and treatment-intake functions, and which responds quickly to contain local epidemics. We explored the feasibility of using methadone-maintained exaddict field workers to perform similar functions in an addiction control system. Despite a number of developmental problems, this field team was able to carry out a variety of epidemiologic-research, case-finding, and intervention functions on the actively addicted population of their community.