Honoring the Life and Legacy of Dr. Robert Newman

A Pioneer of Addiction Treatment and Advocate for Patients

The Legal Action Center joins with colleagues around New York, the country and the globe, to mourn the death of our former Board Member, Robert Newman, and to honor his life and the immense contributions he made to the field of substance use disorders.

He leaves an enormous legacy of professional achievement, courage, uncompromising conviction and compassion.

For nearly five decades, Dr. Newman was a pioneer in dismantling discriminatory views on medication assisted treatment (MAT). He was responsible for the major expansion of methadone treatment programs in New York City in the early 1970s, and educated clinicians and policy-makers around the world on the life-saving benefits of MAT.

LAC’s President and Director Paul Samuels says “It is impossible to calculate how many lives Dr. Newman saved through his work to improve access to methadone maintenance and other medication-assisted treatment for substance use disorders. What is certain is that his intellect, courage and compassion have made an indelible mark on the field of substance use treatment, and on the lives of countless individuals”.

In addition to his groundbreaking work to expand methadone treatment, Dr. Newman was an unwavering advocate for patients’ rights to confidentiality. In 1970, Dr. Newman was sued by the government for refusing to provides lists of methadone patients to the police for a far-reaching investigation. He won the case in court, arguing that the subpoena was unconstitutional. This case laid the groundwork for passage of the federal law to protect the confidentiality of substance use disorder treatment records a few years later.

We will honor the life and legacy of Dr. Newman by continuing to fight discrimination against people with substance use disorders, to protect their right to treatment confidentiality, and to reduce barriers to evidence-based addiction treatments.

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