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Friday, October 25, 2013

Better Addiction Medicine Education for Doctors

Recognizing the signs of addiction should be a skill that all doctors are trained to do. A large number of addicts fuel their dependence through their primary care physician, playing a major role in the prescription drug epidemic plaguing America. In this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association, experts are calling for better training for doctors in the field of substance abuse.

It has become common practice for doctors to fail in diagnosing and treating substance abuse, due to lack of education in addiction medicine, according to three experts.

Many diseases that are the result of substance abuse are left untreated. As a result hospitals have become “clogged” with suffering patients dealing with such illnesses, according to Dr. Evan Wood of the University of British Columbia, Dr. Jeffrey H. Samet, President of the American Board of Addiction Medicine (ABAM), and Dr. Nora D. Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

“Despite the availability of these evidence-based prevention and treatment strategies, only a small fraction of individuals receive prevention or treatment consistent with scientific knowledge about what works,” Dr. Samet said.

New therapies and behavioral interventions have been developed for a number of addictions, Newswise reports. The American Board of Addiction Medicine (ABAM) has accredited 18 addiction medicine fellowship programs. Physicians who finish one of these fellowships are eligible to sit for the ABAM exam for certification in addiction medicine.

“There is a remarkable gap between the science of addiction medicine and the care that patients actually receive,” Dr. Wood said. “Ultimately, this stems from the fact that investments in research have not been coupled with strategies to adequately train physicians to deliver evidence-based care.” He noted that only about 10 percent of people with an alcohol addiction receive recommended care. Most treatment for addiction in the United States and Canada is provided by laypersons, the article notes.

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