With so much information about alcohol and other drugs available today, both from public and private sources, it is difficult to appreciate how society viewed these issues half a century ago.
Before the hippie generation discovered marijuana, LSD and other mind-altering drugs, alcohol was America’s most popular drug. And, at that time, alcohol wasn’t even recognized as a drug. There was no National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), and there was no other federal, state or local programs addressing drug abuse.
It was organizations such as the Michigan Temperance Foundation that provided what little information was available about alcohol and its negative impact on the individual and society. The Temperance Foundation was a church-related organization that centered its activities primarily on public policy. The MTF director lobbied for liquor control laws at the state Capitol, and the group carried on an education program in churches and schools across Michigan.
Because of MTF’s significant involvement in legislation, contributions to it were not tax deductible. To obtain a source of tax deductible contributions, Ross McLennan, the Foundation’s then director, in 1956 formed the Michigan Alcohol Education Foundation.
Education programs were expanded, with educational representatives going into churches and schools, showing films, leading discussions and helping to raise the awareness of young people and adults to the negative effects of alcohol. There were also assembly programs that captured the attention of the kids, including the very popular assembly featuring Glen Cunningham, a world famous track star who had to overcome injuries from a near-fatal schoolhouse fire to represent the United States in the Olympic Games.
As other drugs became an important part of society’s substance abuse problem, the Michigan Alcohol Education Foundation became the Michigan Alcohol and Drug Education Foundation, adding to its steadily growing focus on education and information.
The most popular publication was written by Robert L. Hammond, then Executive Director, titled “Almost all you ever wanted to know about alcoholism,” which eventually enjoyed a distribution of more than two million copies in several editions.
It was during the 1980s that the organization’s name was again changed, this time to the American Alcohol and Drug Information Foundation, or AADIF to more accurately reflect the scope and influence of the organization. In 1993, AADIF became the publisher of the Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education, a world renown, peer-reviewed professional journal with subscribers in colleges, universities and libraries across America and in 32 foreign nations.
Today, the Michigan Council on Alcohol Problems is a subsidiary of AADIF, and is headquartered in Lansing, Michigan. The mailing address is 412 N. Walnut, Lansing, Michigan 48933 and the telephone number is (517) 708-2986.