Helping others with addictions

and alcohol abuse in his own life.

Now he's turned those experiences to helping others who are coping with the same problems.

Since 1993, Fisher has overseen the growth of his Reno-based nonprofit project, the Center for the Application of Substance Abuse Technologies.

As executive director of CASAT, Fisher has watched it grow to provide a wide range of services in drug and alcohol abuse treatment, including increasing the number of trained counselors and providing them with new ways to enhance prevention, treatment and recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.

The center focuses on new ways of counseling using techniques such as "Motivated Interviewing." Fisher says this method focuses on identifying whether a person has a drug or alcohol problem and how to treat it.

Fisher says this method can be more effective than automatically confronting a person about the problem.

"When you have a drug or alcohol problem, you don't want someone coming up to you and telling you have a problem," Fisher said.

The program is also instituting ways to crack down on retailers selling to underage drinkers and looking for consistent message in the community about drugs and alcohol.

He said abuse prevention could have a tremendous impact on the economy "By preventing even one kid from abuse, you could save $7 for every $1 in treatment," Fisher said.

Fisher, who has worked in the psychology department at University of Nevada for 20 years, had a serious alcohol and drug problem.

Fisher started experimenting with drug and alcohol as an adult after he moved to Nevada from Washington.

Soon, Fisher was regularly smoking marijuana and consuming alcohol on a daily basis.

He also experimented with other drugs such as cocaine.

Fisher said his abuse also seemed to make him irritable and he tended to isolate himself from other people.

As a result, his relationship with his family was strained.

But Fisher never had a traumatic event such as a car accident or illness that might have forced him into quitting.

It finally took a relative of Fisher's to convince him that he had a problem and needed to get help.

"For the grace of God, I was very fortunate that nothing bad ever happened to me," Fisher said.

"This person finally said to me, 'You know, this is really affecting your relationships.'"

After recovering from his addiction, Fisher decided he could help others in need.

In 1992, he applied to the state for a grant of $70,000 for to start such his program.

Over the years, CASAT has received grants in the neighborhood of $4.5 million and employs about 50 people.

"We receive more and more grants all the time," Fisher said.

The organization also funnels grants to other treatment and prevention centers in Nevada and six other states.

For instance, CASAT has just granted $200,000 to a new organization called Women's Alliance for Strengthening Access and Retention Services for each of the next two years.

The program will assist in assessment in the treatment, prevention and recovery of drug abuse by women.

CASAT receives grants from treatment centers such as the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment and has a contract with the Nevada Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Abuse to help implement its new programs.

Fisher, who lives in Las Vegas, continues to oversee the CASAT, traveling between his office at UNR and the CASAT office in Las Vegas office.


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