Turkey Health and Government Officials Visit LESC

On April 20th about a dozen officials and professionals from Turkey came to LESC at Su Casa to discuss SUD policy and treatment. The team is part of a program called the “Global Drug Policy – Study Tour for Stakeholders from Turkey.” The purpose of the visit was to meet with experienced behavioral health organization and criminal justice institutions that work with people with significant addictions - to learn how we work.

April 20, 2017

Turkey has a significant drug problem and few treatment resources. This group is part of the Turkish leadership to develop sound policy and treatment resources in an environment that approaches addiction as a criminal justice problem. The Turkish team is visiting a few providers in New York, Seattle and Vancouver. It is an honor to be asked and a reflection of the regard OASAS has for LESC. 

LESC is among a select few from New York State to represent how effective SUD services are delivered to the Turkish Government.

The visiting team was headed up by Arash Alaei, MD Assoc the Dean for International Education and Global Strategy; Clinical Professor School of Public Health and Assoc Director Global Institute for Health and Human Rights - State University at Albany. The Turkish visitors included the following officials and professionals:

  • Selahaddin MENTEŞ (deputy undersecretary of Turkish Ministry of Justice)
  • ‍Enis Yavuz YILDIRIM (Director General of Prison and Probation Programs)
  • ‍Mehmet ÖKMEN (deputy director general at the Directorate General for Law-MoJ)
  • Dr. Sertac Polat Director of Drug Addiction Program at Turkish Ministry of Health
  • Dr. Sevgi Guler Technical Staff from Turkish MOH
  • Professor Adem Sozuer, Dean of Law School, Istanbul University
  • Dr. Tuba TOPÇUOĞLU, faculty member from Law School, Istanbul University
  • Dr. Rabia Bilici, Director of Drug Addiction, Public Substance Use Treatment Center in Istanbul
  • Dr. Meral Akbiyik, Psychiatrist, Substance Use Treatment Service in the private sector
  • Dr. Selmur Topal, Director of Communicable Disease, Turkish Ministry of Health

Their main questions focused on:

  • Policies regarding drug use from a criminal-justice perspective and how to move towards a public health and patient-focused perspective;
  • How do we deliver a comprehensive approach, how do we integrate services for complex and multiple needs;
  • What are the long term outcomes and benefits for clients and;
  • What are our unique approaches, treatment models and recommendations.

We assembled our own distinguished team of experts that engaged in a lively discussion about treatment approaches, significant factors on the local, State and Federal level that affect treatment delivery and a slide presentation on the neurobiological impact of drug use and treatment.

Our distinguished team of discussants and presenters included:

  • Medical Directors Drs. Gallo and Levy
  • Program Directors: Larry Taub, Victor Gonzalez, James Quick and Despina Vougioukas
  • Clinical Staff: Yanina Shusterov; Yvette Scott, Suzanne Heller
  • Executives: Valerie Walters, Lolita Silva-Vasquez, Peter Santoro and myself

Dr. Levy provided a wonderful slide presentation on the biology of addiction and treatment and both Medical Directors, Program Directors and staff discussed our treatment approaches, different models including outpatient and residential and many of the significant factors that affect treatment such as medical disorders, co-occurring disorders, lack of housing and employment, a changing payer system and of course stigma. We met for about two hours and our visitors expressed their genuine appreciations to the LESC team for sharing valuable recommendations and the wisdom gained from many years of experience.