Doctor DeLuca’s Addiction Website


Director of rehab center quits in dispute over alcohol treatment

July 11, 2000, 07:30 PM

©2000-01 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


NEW YORK – The director of the Smithers Clinic, the celebrity rehab center that treated Truman Capote and Joan Kennedy, has quit in a dispute over his decision to adopt a program that allows patients to drink in moderation.


</images/videoicon.gif> RESOURCES

   Moderation Management

   Alcoholics Anonymous


The resignation of Dr. Alex DeLuca from the Smithers Addiction Treatment and Research Center comes amid a renewed debate over whether problem drinkers should be allowed to drink in controlled fashion or should abstain altogether.


Last month, Audrey Kishline, the founder of Moderation Management, a national organization that promotes moderate drinking for problem drinkers, pleaded guilty to causing a deadly drunken-driving accident in Washington state. She has renounced the movement.


DeLuca's decision to include Moderation Management as a treatment option at Smithers was first reported in last week's New York magazine. He told the magazine: "I humbly submit that this is the way alcoholics should be treated."


DeLuca resigned Monday under pressure from St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, which runs the clinic.


The hospital said in a statement that the Smithers center "has a long and proud tradition of treating alcoholism by advocating total abstinence. While we recognize there may be other alternatives in the treatment of this difficult disease, no change in our own program policy was ever approved."


"Since Dr. Alex DeLuca does not support the program philosophy, we have accepted his resignation as director of Smithers," the statement said.


DeLuca could not be reached for comment Tuesday. A call to the only Alex DeLuca listed in New York state was not returned.


In an interview in Tuesday's New York Times, DeLuca said he was not advocating that the Smithers center drop abstinence.


"I was only suggesting that you could engage people in a kinder, gentler manner rather than telling them that they had to sign up for a goal of achieving abstinence from the beginning," he said.


The Smithers center, whose patients over the years have included writer John Cheever and baseball star Darryl Strawberry, was founded 30 years ago with a $10 million donation from philanthropist Robert Brinkley Smithers, who also started the Christopher D. Smithers Foundation.


The two organizations are no longer linked, and the dispute over controlled drinking has deepened a rift between the clinic and the foundation, which advocates total abstinence for alcoholics and drug addicts.


The foundation took out a full-page ad in The New York Times on Sunday noting that it is not associated with the clinic and that it believes "alcoholism is a disease that requires abstinence-based treatment, and that controlled drinking, under any name, whether it be `modern management' or `harm reduction,' is not possible where the disease of alcoholism exists."


In Washington state, Kishline, 43, pleaded guilty in the March 25 deaths of a man and his 12-year-old daughter. Kishline was driving the wrong way down Interstate 90, and her blood-alchohol level was more that three times the legal intoxication threshold.



She faces a possible life sentence.


Kishline started Moderation Management in 1993, calling it an alternative to abstinence-based Alcoholics Anonymous. The moderation program says it is not for alcoholics, just problem drinkers.


Since the accident, Kishline has quit the movement. Her lawyer has said that Kishline realized that Moderation Management "is nothing but alcoholics covering up their problem."



©2000-01 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.