Dr. Herbert Kleber dedicated more than half his life to treating drug addiction, spending more than 50 years studying the causes of substance abuse and developing treatments to reduce the effects of withdrawal. His work changed the way addiction is viewed and treated and helped save countless lives.
To honor the American psychiatrist and pioneering substance abuse researcher’s work, Google on Tuesday is dedicating its Doodle to Kleber on the 23rd anniversary of his election to the National Academy of Medicine, a volunteer organization that provides advice on health and medical advice.
When he began his career, substance abuse wasn’t a major focus of research for the medical community. His research in addiction began when he was deployed to a prison hospital in Lexington, Kentucky, where inmates were being treated for addiction.
After noticing that the majority of patients would relapse after release, Kleber developed his “evidence-based treatment,” treating addiction as a medical condition instead of a failure of moral character. His approach stresses the importance of research, employing the use of medication and therapy to prevent patient relapses.
In 1964, he took a faculty position at the Yale University School of Psychiatry, where he founded the Drug Dependence Unit in 1968. He served as the unit’s head for more than two decades before being appointed in 1989 by President George H.W. Bush to serve as deputy director for Demand Reduction at the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
During his five-decade career, Kleber authored more than 250 papers and articles on addiction and how to treat it and was co-editor of the American Psychiatric Press Textbook of Substance Abuse Treatment. During his time at Yale, and later Columbia University, he mentored generations of researchers who would go on to be leaders in the substance abuse field.
The Doodle appears just a few days before the first anniversary of his death. He died Oct. 5, 2018, at the age of 84.