G. Douglas Talbott, M.D. - 1924-2014
Dr. G. Douglas Talbott, M.D., the 90-year-old founder and original medical director of Atlanta, Georgia’s Talbott Recovery Campus, passed away on Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014, from pneumonia and cardiovascular disease. He was one of the most forceful voices in advocating the recognition of alcoholism as a disease. Moreover, he was a pioneer in educating physicians about substance abuse and in offering substance abuse treatment programs for them.
Dr. Talbott was a graduate of Hotchkiss, Yale University (class of 1946) and Columbia Medical School. Beginning his career as an internist, he became a famous cardiologist who specialized in the treatment and care of individuals with alcohol and other drug dependencies. He created the first treatment program specifically designed to meet the requirements of physicians suffering from the disease of addiction.
Dr. Talbott was the guiding force helping the Talbott Recovery Campus establish a national reputation as the treatment center of choice for addicted healthcare professionals. During the critical early years in the addiction treatment field, he was consistently a leader in the development of treatment methods such as the Mirror Image, Return Visit Programs, community living and extended therapeutic leaves.
In the 1950s he was a captain in the Air Force and Chief of Medicine at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. He began his work here with the NationalAeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to help select suitable crews for the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space programs.
In the 1960s he founded and become Director of the Cox Heart Institute, a nationally recognized cardiac research institute.
In the 1970s he became Medical Director of Baltimore’s Public Inebriate Program which promoted compassionate care for those on “skid row”. During this decade he also created an alcohol and drug program at DeKalb General Hospital for DeKalb County Georgia and the city of Atlanta.
Dr. Talbott was a formative figure in the AMA’s Impaired Physicians Program. He created the DeKalb County Impaired Physicians Committee which became the official program for the Medical Association of Georgia. This program then became a national model for treating impaired physicians and other health professionals. In 1976 he entered the private treatment business with a program he created at Ridgeview Institute, also in metropolitan Atlanta.
In the 1980s he was central in the founding of the American Society of Addiction Medicine which specialized in educating physicians and improving the treatment of individuals suffering from alcoholism or other addictions. In 1989 he co-founded the Talbott Recovery Campus which became a model for the treatment of physicians and other professionals such as nurses, dentists and veterinarians.
Talbott’s success with health professionals promoted the organization to expand its programming to others regardless of their occupations. In the 1990s this included a modified version for adolescents and young adults. This expansion allowed thousands to receive the same core treatment as professionals received.
Dr. Talbott formerly held the following positions: President of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), Vice-President and USA Representative of the International Society of Addiction Medicine (ISAM), Clinical Professor of Family Practice at Morehouse School of Medicine, Adjunct Professor of Pharmacology at Mercer University School of Pharmacy and medical consultant to the Atlanta Braves and National Basketball Association.
Dr. Talbott was an addiction treatment icon and a nationally recognized authority on alcoholism and other drug addictions. He consulted at the White House, authored dozens of papers and articles, published numerous books, appeared frequently on television programs and talk shows, lectured and conducted workshops throughout the United States and Canada.
Doc or Doccy, as he was affectionately called by his family, excelled in play as in work. He was passionate about squash, an indoor racquets game that intrigued his father so much that his dad built a court in their Dayton, OH house. Doc won the Dayton city championships and Ohio state veterans singles and doubles titles and for many years was a nationally ranked masters player.
He served on the board of US Squash in the 1960s and, after moving to Atlanta in the 1970s, helped found the Southeastern Squash Racquets Association (SESRA). In 2002 he was the first recipient of the Dayton Squash Racquets Association Lifetime Achievement Award. His legacy continues in two of his sons, who after retiring from successful pro careers, coach squash at Yale and Stanford. He also built a squash court in the Florida Keys which was the southernmost court in the country.
As a resident of the Florida Keys for over thirty years, he fulfilled his dream of living by the sea. Dr. Talbott is survived by his wife, Polly, of 67 years along with their six children (Wendy, Doug Jr., Dave, Rich, Mark and Polly), nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the American Heart Association.
Re-printed from Talbott Recovery News, October 2014