While Hollywood has close ties to the issue of addiction, the art of acting itself isn’t directly connected – until now. The Addiction Performance Project employs the talents of movie and television stars in their innovative continuing medical education (CME) program for doctors and other health providers.
The performances are a project of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health, and are designed to help doctors and other health professionals better identify and help drug-abusing patients in healthcare settings and to break down the stigma associated with drug addiction. The performances take place at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association (APA).
The group’s most recent performance was held in San Francisco on May 19, 2013 and featured Mare Winningham, Debra Winger, Blythe Danner, Dianne Wiest and Kathryn Erbe. The program began with a dramatic reading of Act III of Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night, with Winningham reading the part of Mary Tyrone, the morphine addicted matriarch of a family devastated by addiction.
The reading was followed by an expert panel reaction and facilitated audience discussion to explore the challenges for providers in working with addicted patients and the experience of these patients and their families. Former Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy also joined NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow and expert APA members on the panel to discuss, from a patient and family member perspective, the devastating consequences of drug abuse and addiction.
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