In the early fifties there was little help available for anyone suffering alcohol use disorder. The Smithers Foundation helped to fund the National Committee on Alcoholism (now the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence) which helped establish a nationwide network of affiliates – more than 200 sites at its peak.
The Foundation established of The New City Medical Society on Alcoholism (now the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM)) with more than 3,000 members all involved in treating people addicted to alcohol. It also influenced corporate industry and labor giants like General Motors, Exxon, U.S. Steel and the AFL-CIO to recognize alcohol use disorder in the workplace, and to understand it was a treatable medical illness. This was the forerunner to Employee Assistance Programs which are a part of the labor management workforce today.
Additionally, the Smithers Foundation funded research which was the basis for “The Disease Concept of Alcoholism” by E. M. Jellinek, and started to publish its own literature, addressing the myriad aspects of AUD.
The Smithers Foundation continued its work to increase awareness and education about alcohol use disorder. This included increased funding for like-minded scientists and academic institutions as well as publications that informed professionals and the larger community about how best to manage addiction to alcohol.
This decade started with a $10 million gift – the largest ever made by an individual or organization for alcohol use disorder – to establish the Smithers Alcoholism Treatment and Training Center. It was the first comprehensive alcohol use disorder unit as a part of a leading hospital that provided detox, rehab and professional training services. Other large foundations and corporations followed suit, but perhaps most notable from this time period was the creation of a federal research institution on issues related to alcohol use disorder. The Smithers Foundation supported the passage of the Hughes Act sponsored by Senator Harold Hughes which provided the legislation for The National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse (NIAAA). This landmark policy and research initiative greatly expanded funding and increased services for people struggling with alcohol addiction, their families and communities. Smithers also funded the establishment of EPRA, a comprehensive vocational rehabilitation program for individuals in recovery from drug and alcohol abuse. Among its objectives: helping those individuals return to full employment.
The Smithers Foundation expanded its influence during the eighties with a major grant in support of the Fellowship Center, which established protocols for education and treatment of AUD in New York State prisons. It also made a $6.7 million dollar gift to Cornell and Rutgers Universities to create a major institute dealing with alcohol use disorder prevention in the workplace. As the decade came to a close, Smithers was recognized as one of 101 candidates registered for the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize.
This marked a period of significant impact on youth prevention and education projects through strategic grants. Recipients included: Youth Outreach through the Alcoholism Council; collaboration with Dr. Essie Lee and Hunter College for training in prevention provided to New York City Departments of Police and Correction, Y.M.C.A., Boys and Girls of New York City, Girl Scouts, City College of New York and the New York City Board of Education.
The Smithers Foundation also made a major grant to New York Yankees baseball star Derek Jeter’s Turn Two Foundation to promote and develop youth leadership, scholarship and citizenship.
While continuing to support local organizations, the Foundation also started to work with the international community through the United Nations.
In 2003 the World Health Organization declared alcohol use disorder among the top ten health threats in the world. It was appropriate for Antonio Maria Costa, executive director United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to keynote the Smithers Foundation’s 50th anniversary gala celebration.
Eventually, the World Health Organization changed its position on alcohol use disorder, declaring it the number one health threat in the world. The Foundation responded by continuing to fund innovative programs and supporting new collaborations like “The Leadership to Keep Children Alcohol Free”, specifically geared to a 9-12 year old audience.
From 2004 to the present day, the Foundation continues its work with the local, national and international community as each struggles with addressing the myriad of problems that are a direct result of alcohol use disorder.
The Smithers Foundation celebrates 60 years.
The Smithers Center® was established within Columbia Psychiatry.
Home is Where the Heart Is – Designer Showhouse – a benefit for the American Heart Association was held at the Foundation Estate in 2015.
The Foundation participates in UN conferences through OCCAM advocating the incorporation of alcohol and drug prevention and treatment in areas of the world that have suffered from natural disasters; helping developing countries incorporate alcohol and drug awareness programs into plans for establishing sustained economic health and social benefits.
The Smithers Foundation helped introduce the Employment Program for Recovered Alcoholics into the United Kingdom and continued the work of R. Brinkley Smithers who founded EPRA in New York in 1977. There is an urgent need to help Military Veterans experiencing mental health issues, primarily alcohol and drug problems and this has led to the idea of the Veteran Voice Project.
Christopher Smithers is asked to be a U.S. Representative to the UN for OCCAM.
Adele C. Smithers, Chairman of the Smithers Foundation, passed away February 2017. She devoted herself to the field of alcohol use disorder. She was a fierce advocate and tireless leader for creating a better understanding of alcoholism based on the science of addiction and finding ways to provide care for those trying to deal with this medical condition. She carried the torch of her beloved husband, R. Brinkley Smithers, after his death in 1994, continuing to provide leadership, direction and inspiration.
Christopher Smithers writes Three Position Papers that were placed in the New York Times in 2017 titled: “The Role of Law Enforcement in Reducing Heroin and Opioid Addiction.” “America In Peril, Attacking the Heroin and Opioid Addiction Crisis America: Enforcement, Prevention and Education,” and “How Opioid Treatment Has Fueled the Epidemic!”
#Stop the Spiral – Stop the Spiral is a call to action to increase awareness of and access to evidence-based medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder (OUD). The Foundation launches a PSA to raise awareness of Opioid addiction. The heart-wrenching Hey Charlie video shows how quickly the use of banned substances in social situations almost seamlessly spirals into an addiction to opiates. www.stopthespiral.com
The International Council for Film, Television and Audiovisual Communication (ICFT), Paris, announced that they concede the UNESCO Fellini Medal for the Smithers Foundation Award. The Smithers Foundation award is presented annually to a movie present at the Venice Film Festival that best sheds light on the struggle for social justice and acceptance of the beliefs, differences and customs of others. See Awards – The Ambassador of Hope Award.
The Foundation supported three programs with Columbia University—The Practicum Clinical Training of Psychiatric Technicians in Mozambique, Pregabalin Research project and the Quality Measure Proposal.
Columbia University receives funding for two important conferences: Global Mental Health Conference in South Africa and Building a Bridge for Research to Treatment.
Columbia University Irving Medical Center celebrates the life and mourns the passing of Christopher B. Smithers, whose extraordinary leadership and generosity has been transformative to the research and treatment of substance use disorders. The Smithers Family has long been a source of knowledge and support for enhanced awareness and better treatment for substance abuse.