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White House Holds Landmark Symposium to Discuss Advancing Addiction Medicine

White House Holds Landmark Symposium to Discuss Advancing Addiction Medicine

Author: Shernide Delva

There was a historic land mark symposium held in the white house at the end of September to discuss approaches to drug addiction medicines. The discussion was focused on the crucial developments in addiction medicine.

The symposium was titled “Medicine Responds to Addiction” and was held by Michael Botticelli, the Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), and Dr. Patrick O’Connor, president of the American Board of Addiction Medicine (ABAM) Foundation.

The goal of the symposium was to address the epidemic of opioid addiction by highlighting advances in medical training and practice. Introducing the event, Botticelli started off by stating:

“America must bring the power of medicine and public health to bear to reduce substance use and its consequences. Today’s symposium can help ensure that the next generation of physicians is well-equipped to bring an effective public health response to substance use disorders.”

The meeting brought together leaders from several federal agencies such as the National Institute of Health, SAMHSA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Also in attendance was U.S Surgeon General Vice Admiral Vivek H. Murthy as well as representative from graduate medical training programs, medical boards, public and private health care systems, and foundations from across the country.

So what was the major focus? Essentially the goal was to identify ways to accelerate training and certification of medical providers in addiction prevention and treatment. We’ve read up on how first responders and school nurses have garnered media attention in hopes that they will be required to have naloxone on hand so a main topic of discussion was training in addiction medicine. Dr. Patrick O’Conner elaborated by stating:

“Training in addiction medicine is absolutely essential to build a workforce of competent providers. There is now an extensive body of science concerning the epidemiology of addiction, the consequences of risky substance use and substance-use disorders, and the effective approaches to prevention and treatment. The time has now come to advance patient care by fully integrating this science into medical practice.”

Over the past 5 years, ABAM foundation has developed 36 addiction medicine training fellowship training programs in North American. More importantly, ABMS is not considering an application from the American Board of Preventative Medicine to establish addiction medication as a full-fledged sub-specialty that mall medical fields can have access to.

O’Conner has been a major player in seeking the establishment of this new sub-specialty and the process for the new sub-specialty is anticipated to conclude in the near future. O’Conner believes that recognizing addiction medicine as a medical discipline will result in prevention, recognition, treatment and recovery from addiction that will “greatly improve the health of our nation”

There is a profound need to address the addiction disease and its prevention and treatment across primary care and in many areas of specialty care practice. Substance use disorders are some of the largest preventable health problems facing our nation. In 2014, 22.5 million people in the United States needed treatment for a substance use disorder however only 11.6% received treatment for their substance use problem.

Hopefully this symposium will address the issue of addiction and move the country in the right direction to treating and preventing addiction in America. The advances in medicine for treating addiction show positive trend of addiction being treated in a medicinal fashion. Moving forward, a subspecialty for addiction treatment will allow clinicians to have people who specialized in treating the complex nature of the disease of addiction.

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