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Friday, May 10, 2013

Treating Addiction Patients With An Integrated Approach

"When you form a team, why do you try to form a team? Because teamwork builds trust and trust builds speed."  Russel Honore

Working with addicted clients takes a team...

Often when clients finally enter treatment for the disease of addiction they have tried to find sobriety on their own or they have sought counsel from their primary care physician or perhaps they have reached a point in their life where they realize for the first time that they can't do it on their own. They need emotional support from their family members, perhaps they have reached out to their Employee Assistance Program via their employer, or maybe they have been ordered by the judicial system to seek treatment or face jail.

Whatever the catalyst when someone enters treatment they soon realize that they are not alone and their treatment course will be guided by a team of professionals. This team may include physicians, psychologists, nurses, dieticians, counselors, social workers, and case managers. The team works together in both one-on-one and group settings, uncovering each participant’s strengths and gifts to help clients flourish in a drug-free life. This teamwork helps to establish a foundation of trust with the client. Recovery is possible.

ASAM annual conference held in Chicago

The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) held their 44th Annual Medical-Scientific Conference in Chicago April 25-28, 2013. The theme of this year's conference was "New Treatment in Addiction Medicine." According to the conference's website:
"The multi-faceted nature of addiction--its genesis, impact and treatment--demands knowledge and expertise in a variety of disciplines and approaches. One single treatment program can never address every kind of addiction or every person suffering from substance use disorders. Continuous assessment, monitoring and modification of treatment are necessary as the patient journeys from active addiction to life-long recovery. New developments in pharmacology, neuroscience, psychiatry, counseling and other avenues of treatment provide those who diagnose and treat addiction with a promising array of tools to apply to each complex situation."

Integration of primary care and addiction medicine discussed at ASAM

On Sunday, April 28, 2013, the ASAM conference program included a symposium The Addiction Medicine/Primary Care Interface: Models of Integrated Care. The presenters for this symposium were Alexander Walley, MD, MSc; Daniel Alford, MD, MPH, FASAM, FACP; Judith Martin, MD, FASAM.

Medscape News published an interesting article about this particular symposium. The doctors provided examples of their own experience with integrated care. But they also discussed the challenges to integrated care. These include:
  • Lack of funding
  • More research will be needed to prove the cost effectiveness of integrated care
  • Integrated care should not neglect one-on-one relationships of team members

Enjoying a medical practice that includes various specialties

Perhaps you have had the opportunity to have a primary care physician whose practice is part of a group of physicians who are credentialed in various specialties. For example, there might be physicians who specialize in internal medicine, obstetrics & gynecology, orthopaedic surgery, sports medicine, primary care and pediatrics. This type of group practice makes it easier for a patient or an entire family, for that matter, to receive referrals and consults from each specialist.

The addition of an addiction medicine specialist would be ideal so that if one of the doctors recognizes that a patient is struggling with alcohol abuse, prescription drug abuse or other co-occurring disorders a referral can be made immediately and the treatment course can be designed.

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