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National Library of Addictions Presents 10th Annual Nathaniel Hakim Askia Lifetime Achievement Award to Senator Steven Tolman

07-16-2011 11:19 AM CET | Health & Medicine

Press release from: Regan Communications Group

/ PR Agency: Regan Communications Group
Boston, MA (July 13, 2011) – On Wednesday, July 13, Senator Steven A. Tolman of the 2nd Suffolk & Middlesex District, will be honored as the 2011 recipient of the Nathaniel Hakim Askia Lifetime Achievement Award during a ceremony at Anthony’s Pier 4 in Boston. Presented by the National Library of Addictions (NLA), the award, now in its tenth year, recognizes individuals who dedicate their work and lives to helping people with addictions to drugs and alcohol.

More than fifty healthcare professionals and government officials will gather to congratulate Senator Tolman on his award. Guest speakers include Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission; Reverend Vernard B. Wade, the brother of Nathaniel Hakim Askia; and Paul DellaRocco, President of Franciscan Hospital for Children.

Founded in 1993 by Dr. P. S. Kishore, the National Library of Addictions is a not-for-profit, intellectual gathering place for health care professionals and community members who are working to overcome the effects of addictions. The library, located in Brookline, MA, serves as a research facility, continuing medical educational institute, and place for professionals to exchange ideas and develop treatment methodologies.

The Lifetime Achievement Award is named after Nathaniel Hakim Askia, a man who recovered from heroin addiction in the 1960s and subsequently founded the FIRST Academy, a therapeutic community for recovering addicts in Roxbury. Askia was among the first people to address addictions as a community-based issue. Addiction treatment advocates and treatment providers in particular are traditionally cloaked in anonymity. Dr. Kishore created the Nathaniel Hakim Askia award in 2002 as a way to acknowledge the unspoken heroes who often go unrecognized.

“When faced with challenges and temptation, Nathaniel would often quote Psalm 22:1, ‘A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold,’” said Reverend Vernard B. Wade, Pastor at Dominion Christian Church and brother of Nathaniel Hakim Askia. Wade attended the event with Nathaniel’s oldest son, Nathaniel Askia Jr.

For several years, Senator Steven A. Tolman has served as a strong, vocal advocate in the war against addictions. After his term as Senate Chair of the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Committee, he remained involved with the cause and in 2009 became the Chairman of the Massachusetts Oxycontin and Heroin Commission, an organization dedicated to investigating the effects of the abuse of prescription medication and illicit drugs.

“Senator Tolman has been and will continue to be a powerful advocate for the war against addictions,” said Dr. Kishore. “His passion does not go unnoticed and the Library of Addictions is so pleased to present him with this award as he has dedicated many efforts to help those struggling with addiction.”

Senator Tolman remains a spokesperson for adequate funding and diversion of low level offenders from jail to treatment. He is also a strong supporter of children’s mental health and mental health insurance parity, as he has become the lead sponsor of the Children’s Mental Health Law, the Mental Health Parity law and legislation which created the Quality Homecare Workforce Council for personal care attendants.

“It is an honor to receive this award today,” said Senator Steven Tolman. “Nothing happens in the Legislature because of one person’s passion or efforts though. My colleagues and I have worked hard to maintain Massachusetts’ substance abuse funding during these difficult financial times, however, there remains much to be done and there are thousands still suffering with this dreaded disease. I know that maintaining Massachusetts’ treatment system will continue to be a priority and that efforts to raise awareness about the deadly opioid crisis here in Massachusetts will continue.”

Tolman has been a member of the Massachusetts Senate since 1999 and of the Democratic State Committee since 1991. Before joining the Massachusetts Senate it 1999, he served as a State Representative from 1994-1998. Tolman holds a Bachelor of the Arts in Law and Labor degree from the University of Massachusetts at Boston. He also graduated from the Harvard Trade Union Program. He represents the 2nd Suffolk & Middlesex Senate District, which includes Allston-Brighton, portions of the Back Bay and the Fenway neighborhoods in Boston, northwest Cambridge, and the towns of Belmont and Watertown. Tolman lives with his wife and three children in Brighton.

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