Dan Anderson Research Award

The Dan Anderson Research Award recognizes a single published article by a researcher who has advanced the scientific knowledge of addiction recovery.

Daniel J. Anderson, Ph.D., addiction treatment pioneer and former Hazelden president

Daniel J. Anderson, Ph.D. was an addiction treatment pioneer and former Hazelden president. He is best known as the founder and primary architect of the Minnesota Model, the preeminent method of addiction treatment.

His revolutionary ideas on treating alcoholism and expanding the Minnesota Model during his 30 years at the Hazelden Foundation, helped incorporate that model of treatment into programs worldwide. Many addiction treatment centers in the United States and worldwide, including the Mayo Clinic and the Betty Ford Center, emulated the Hazelden model of care.

In Anderson's biography, John Schwarzlose, president of the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, Calif., recounts how in 1980 Anderson was extremely helpful in the planning of the Betty Ford Center. Schwarzlose referred to Anderson as his mentor, one who "always had the best interests of patients at heart in his work. Some in Dan's position would have seen the Betty Ford Center as a potential threat to Hazelden's preeminence. Dan's reaction, however, was not only to graciously agree to help, but to encourage our center to improve on what Hazelden had done."

"The Minnesota Model represented a social reform movement that humanized the treatment of people addicted to alcohol and other drugs," said Jerry Spicer, former Hazelden president and author of The Minnesota Model: The Evolution of the Multidisciplinary Approach to Addiction Recovery. "Dan played a major role in transforming treatment wards from 'snake pits' into places where alcoholics and addicts could retain their dignity."

"Dan showed tremendous care and compassion for people suffering from alcoholism, especially during a time when it wasn't popular to do so," said Gordy Grimm, a long-time friend, associate, and fellow pioneer of the model. "He did as much as anyone to raise awareness that alcoholism is a treatable chronic disease. His work touched the lives of millions of people and greatly reduced the stigma of this disease."

As a psychologist at Willmar State Hospital in the 1950s, Anderson and Nelson Bradley, superintendent of the hospital, were dedicated to finding an effective way to address "inebriates," a group that was considered "at the bottom of the patient pecking order" at that time, Anderson said in a 1998 interview. "Everyone looked down on them, including the community, hospital staff, and even our mentally ill patients. The inebriates had a lower status than the schizophrenics and the manic depressives, or even the kleptomaniacs or pedophiles."

The prevailing view during the 1940s and '50s was that alcoholics were weak on willpower, and if they ended up on the streets, they probably deserved to be there. But Anderson was intent on helping this population. He saw the tremendous value of Alcoholics Anonymous and made the Twelve Steps of AA the foundation of the model. Anderson and Bradley viewed alcoholism as a primary disease of the body, mind and spirit. Their theory was that alcoholism is a multiphasic illness that needs to be addressed by a multidisciplinary team of professionals (counselors, spiritual care specialists, psychologists, psychiatrists, physicians, recreational therapists, and more). The Twelve Step multidisciplinary approach to addiction treatment is an idea that was introduced at Willmar State Hospital and more fully evolved under Anderson's direction at Hazelden.

The idea for sharing the Minnesota Model was a pivotal part of the Hazelden mission under Anderson's leadership. Anderson was a huge proponent of passing on Hazelden's knowledge through consultation, training and education. He was a popular lecturer, both nationally and internationally, and wrote numerous essays, articles and books on addiction topics. Two essays still regarded as classics include "The Psychopathology of Denial" and "Behavioral Management of Chronic Illness."

He taught for more than 30 years at the Rutgers Summer School of Alcohol Studies and lectured frequently at the University of Minnesota's Chemical Dependency Counselor Certificate Program.

He was active as a member or consultant for many professional associations. His honors and achievements were numerous and included the Rutgers Summer School of Alcohol Studies 1982 Outstanding Achievement Award; the 1984 Nelson J. Bradley Outstanding Service Award from the National Association of Alcoholism Treatment Programs; the First Annual President's Award from the Minnesota Chemical Dependency Association; an honorary Doctor of Science degree from the University of Minnesota in 1987; and the Distinguished Alumni Award for 2000 from the University of St. Thomas.

Anderson was born in Minneapolis on March 30, 1921. He earned his bachelor of arts degree from the College of St. Thomas in 1950, his master of arts in clinical psychology from Loyola University in Chicago in 1956, and his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Ottawa in 1966. Anderson served as a clinical psychologist at Willmar State Hospital from 1952 to 1961 and was a consultant and lecturer for Hazelden from 1957 to 1961. He joined Hazelden full time in 1961 and was executive vice president and director there until 1971. He served as president of Hazelden from 1971 until his retirement in 1986. He remained active in the field as president emeritus of Hazelden in the following years and passed away at the age of 81 in February 2003.


Past Dan Anderson Research Award recipients

  • 2014 - Dr. Henry R. Kranzler
  • 2013 - Dr. Matt G. Kushner
  • 2012 - Dr. Roger D. Weiss
  • 2011 - Dr. Mike Dennis and Dr. Chris Scott
  • 2010 - Helen Pettinati, Ph.D.

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