Hamid Ghodse, 1938-2012

A leading international authority on substance abuse and drug addiction, known for the compassion he showed towards the afflicted, has died.

February 28, 2013

Hamid Ghodse was born in Iran on 30 April 1938 and educated in Esfehan, Tabriz and Tehran, and at the American University in Beirut. After obtaining a medical degree (1965) and serving as a lieutenant in the Iranian Health Corps (1965-67), he moved to the UK for postgraduate training at the Morgannwg Hospital in Bridgend, South Wales and the St Bartholomew’s and Maudsley hospitals in London (1968-74). He then became resident psychiatrist at the University of London’s Institute of Psychiatry (1974-78) before joining what is now St George’s, University of London, where he remained for the rest of his career.

Initially appointed honorary consultant psychiatrist, Professor Ghodse became professor of psychiatry and addictive behaviour in 1987, the first person in the UK to have addiction as part of his professorial title. He went on to set up and run St George’s International Centre for Drug Policy from 1992.

Soon established as a major researcher in the field, Professor Ghodse co- edited Psychoactive Drugs: Improving Prescribing Practices (1988) and was sole author on Addiction at Work: Tackling Drug Use and Misuse in the Workplace (2005) and International Drug Control into the 21st Century (2008). The fourth edition of Drugs and Addictive Behaviour: A Guide to Treatment, published in 2010, was renamed Ghodse’s Drugs and Addictive Behaviour to reflect his eminence in the field.

In educational terms, Professor Ghodse made a huge impact. He created training programmes at several levels, including the country’s first, widely imitated MSc in addictive behaviour. He also developed a generic curriculum on substance abuse, which has been adopted by all English medical schools. Yet Professor Ghodse’s influence extended beyond the academy. Governments in many countries sought his advice on medical education and health policy, and he was elected president of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), the United Nations’ drugs watchdog, no fewer than 11 times.

Raymond Yans, president of the INCB, paid tribute to Professor Ghodse’s “remarkable leadership, wisdom and elegant diplomacy”, adding: “He always showed the deepest compassion for the suffering of people affected by drug abuse and worked passionately to bring about changes to reduce such suffering worldwide. He touched the lives of many, from those being treated…to health professionals in the field, academia and the international community.”

Professor Ghodse died on December 2012 and is survived by his wife Barbara, a daughter, two sons and four grandchildren.


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