Editor’s Note: The Dick Prodey Lecture Series that I wrote about two weeks ago took many years to evolve into the community institution that it is today. Dick agreed to write the following first-hand account of its history, which I thought might be of interest to readers interested in addiction help for family.
By Dick Prodey
I met Dr. Bill Dixon at Sheppard Pratt in 1972 and was impressed by his gentle manner and his courage. He was Chief of Alcoholism Services, and at a time when his colleagues scoffed at alcoholism, Bill had already hired Del Ames, a local counselor, to do a one-hour, free public education series at the hospital.
I had been giving talks on addiction at a Baltimore County regional health center. Del retired and recommended me to replace him. I took over the series in 1979 and have been doing it ever since.
I delivered my first lecture to fifteen people in a small meeting room on the third floor of the hospital. Audiences grew; the lectures moved to a larger conference room to accommodate fifty attendees, and that grew until audience members were standing in doorways and sitting on the floor. I remember not being able to leave the podium until the break.
Initially, there were nine topics handled in a one-hour format with a short film on addiction after. However, the films became dated, and the program evolved into two hours of lecture. The lecture on Alcoholics Anonymous was blended into the other eight, and those eight were packaged in a box of audiotapes and sold at a reasonable cost. Those 300 packages sold out quickly.
Soon after completion of the Sheppard Pratt Conference Center, the “Dick Prodey Lecture Series” moved to the Center’s Auditorium where it is held today, sponsored jointly by The Kolmac Clinic, The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence of Maryland and The Sheppard Pratt Hospital. Audiences range from 40 to 100 attendees. Kolmac supplied a projector, and what was a blackboard format has become a slide presentation, allowing time for a Q&A after several of the lectures, a favorite feature for me.
In 2015 the eight lectures were videotaped. Plans for selling those tapes are in progress. Today, the lectures are available to download through the website, Keep Sober.
The talks are structured as stand-alone, so one can attend them in any order. What was originally a program aimed at educating the families of the Sheppard Pratt alcoholism inpatients is now free and open to the public.
Contact us to learn more about getting addiction help for family.