Wednesday, May 20, 2009

My Conversation with Doctor Raymond Griffin-the Forensic Addictionologist

Raymond Griffin is the President of the NCADD of Westchester County, an instructor at Mercy College, an addictionologist, therapist and radio talk show personality on WVOX 1460 AM Radio (2nd/3rd Monday of every month). He is pictured above with baseball great, Darryl Strawberry at the recent Marty Mann Benefit Dinner. Darryl was one of many key note speakers of the evening. The fundraiser dinner benefited the organization's goal of educating the public to fight the stigma surrounding the disease of alcoholism and other drug addictions and supporting its program and services.

What is your title?

I am an Forensic addictionologist.

Is there a particular school of thought that you aspire to?

More Rogerian…

What’s that?

Carl Roger’s school of thought. It’s a school of thought that’s behavioral as compared to analytical.

Why behavioral?

I believe that cognitive behavioral therapy CBT has the most efficacy in a therapy modality.

Why did you go this route?

Because I’ve always felt "analysis is paralysis" and what helps change…what helps people move from where they are to where they want to be is through the process of behavioral changes that leads to a more enlightened/improved thinking.

What kind of practice do you have?

My practice is split in two. Half of my practice is treating impaired health professionals and the other is forensics…I’m also a forensics addictionologist.

What’s that?

I do evaluations for the courts…to assist the courts to understand if that person has an addiction or not and making recommendations.

How do you go about detecting this illness?

Well, …through drug testing and hair testing to empirically determine whether that person has used drugs or not…the second way is through face to face interviews and the use of questionnaires/screening instruments and the third is collateral contact -by speaking with people that know that person well.

What is your biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge is helping the health care professionals and breaking through the MDiety (the notion that they are god and they don’t need help).

How do you go about overcoming this obstacle?

Group therapy is the most effective tool for the doctor to be in with other doctors to help them understand they have an illness.

What made you decide to do this?

I’ve always had a fascination with human behavior and since elementary school people always came to me with their problems….so it seemed the logical choice.

How did this make you feel as a kid?

Um…it was a good feeling to know that people trusted me and that maybe just maybe you could be helpful to them.

How many years in the field ?


Are you still taking classes?



You always need to take continuing education to stay current and I do at least six hours of professional reading a week and I teach at Mercy college for the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency's CASAC Program…I also taught at the graduate program at Fordham for six years and I lecture nationally at conferences and I am the president of NCADD of Westchester.

As the president of that organization, what are your duties?

To facilitate the promotion of the councils’ mission which is to eradicate the stigma of addition.

What are current statistics on the severity of this problem?

Do you mean how many people are addicted? About 12% are afflicted…it’s the number one killer in America.

What are the underlying causes?

Addiction is primary…

What does that mean?

Progressive, chronic and if not treated a fatal disease. The main contributing factor is genetics.

Is there a shot or a pill?

Unfortunately, not yet…they are working on a genetic marker associated with the Gnome Project (5years ago, two scientists were finally able to map the DNA of the Human Body) so if we find the genetic marker…we’ll be much closer to finding the cure….but currently the best thing we can do is remission of the disease.

Which is?

Refraining from abusing substances.

What is your thoughts on medication?

When appropriate, it’s needed. The big trend we’ve seen in addiction is more people suffering from co-occurring disorders- which is someone who suffers from addiction and another illness such as depression. Such a person may benefit from medication…the medicine I would prescribe would be non addictive medications.

What are some of the rewards you’ve had from working in the field?

It’s to see so many people that through their own efforts and hard work have turned their life around from a dysfunctional addict to a thriving, productive human being.

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