Maywood, Illinois, United States
West graduated from Stritch School of Medicine.
Rancho Mirage, California, United States
West was a medical director of Betty Ford Center from 1982 to 1989, as well as a director of outpatient programs from 1989 till 2007.
West attended Wisconsin boarding school run by the Jesuits. He then graduated from the Stritch School of Medicine at Loyola University of Chicago.
West had a distinctive career in the medical field. He served as a general surgeon in Chicago, Illinois from 1948 to 1981, and was part of the surgical team that performed the first human organ transplant—a kidney. While still practicing surgery, West became interested in the study of substance abuse. After he retired from surgery, he moved to California to become the first medical director associated with the famed Betty Ford Center—one of the first well received drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities, which was created by substance user and former First Lady Betty Ford. He served as the Center's first medical director from 1982 until 1989. That same year West became the director of the Betty Ford Center's outpatient programs. West remained with the Betty Ford Center until 2007.
Also the writer of a newspaper column on the subject, West put the knowledge gained over the years into his first book, 1997’s The Betty Ford Center Book of Answers: Help for Those Struggling with Substance Abuse—And for the People Who Love Them.
The volume is structured in a question-and-answer format, with chapter titles alerting readers to the various aspects of substance abuse covered in each portion. Topics include the affects of drugs and alcohol on the mind, as well as on the body; how to recognize when someone is addicted to drugs or alcohol; and discussion of what family and friends of addicts can do to help them. West also provided a list of organizations and facilities nationwide which help people with substance abuse problems.
Additionally, West was a contributor of a weekly column called "Sober Days" to The Desert Sun, addressing questions about alcoholism and alcohol abuse sent in by newspaper readers.
West became interested in the issue of substance abuse because of his own personal history and that of his family. He recalled for Rosalind Smith in a Detroit News interview; “When I was in medical school, in my second year, we had a terrible number of exams. My partner, who was No. 1 in the class told me about these pills he had gotten from a pharmaceutical company ... They were called benzedrine. He says, ‘Just take a quarter (of a pill), and it works great. It will keep you alert and awake.” West went on to recall for Smith that although he abused benzedrine and also became addicted to alcohol, the abuse “was not flagrant. It was more periodic. If you are an intern or resident in medical training, you have so many duties and so much responsibility, it is very difficult to abuse drugs or alcohol flagrantly,” he explained. “But I recognized it as a problem.”
West's first wife was Shirley Crews. He married Maureen Clark in 1998. West is survived by his sons Bill and Raymond, and four daughters - Vicky Dingler, Judith West, Pamela Byrne and Penny West.