A. Thomas McLellan accepted the job as deputy federal drug czar because his son had died of an overdose, he tells the New York Times, even though “I hate Washington.” McLellan, 61, is on leave as a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. His son overdosed on anti- anxiety medication and Scotch last year at age 30 while his older son was in residential treatment for alcoholism and cocaine addiction.
McLellan said that of the 25 million substance abusers he estimated were in this country, only about 2 million were receiving treatment. He and his boss, Gil Kerlikowske, want to triple that number, partly by spending more money and partly through other tactics, like integrating addiction treatment into the primary health care system. “This is an extraordinary moment of opportunity,” said Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, who helped persuade McLellan to take the job.