DARE honors UF addiction expert

July 26, 2006

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Dr. Mark Gold, a distinguished professor and chief of addiction medicine with theMcKnight Brain Institute of the University of Florida, received the 2006 DARE America Distinguished Service Award on Wednesday in Orlando at the organization’s 19th annual international conference.

DARE – Drug Abuse Resistance Education – is an international program designed to give children the skills they need to avoid involvement in drugs, gangs and violence. It honors Gold for nearly 14 years of volunteer service on the DARE America Scientific Advisory Board, where he regularly provided information to the drug prevention program.

“Addiction is a brain disease,” said Gold, a professor in the College of Medicine since 1990. “At this time, prevention is the only 100 percent successful treatment. One goal at the McKnight Brain Institute, and my goal, is to develop new treatments for patients where prevention has failed or is not possible.”

Millions of students throughout the world have benefited from Gold’s personal contributions to prevention through his research, according to Charlie Parsons, DARE director. This year 36 million students around the world – 26 million in the United States – will be exposed to the program, according to DARE.

“It is clear from data about teen smoking, drinking and drug use that prevention efforts must keep pace with research progress,” Gold said.
“I am hopeful that we can continue to get the message out. Research clearly shows that the teenage brain is unprepared by evolution and developmental processes for tobacco, alcohol or drugs of abuse.
Prevention is safe, effective and can help children choose school, sports, church, music or other activities where experience translates into something useful. Drug use teaches, too, but only how to find, prefer and use drugs. I am very gratified that DARE has asked me to help them with the medical literature and review research that I feel can be relied upon for prevention messages and exercises.”