Wyatt SA, Dekker MA. Improving Physician and Medical Student Education in Substance Use Disorders. J Am Osteopath Assoc 2007;107(suppl_5):ES27–ES38. doi: https://doi.org/.
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Medical and psychosocial problems related to substance use disorders (SUDs) remain a major source of national morbidity and mortality. This situation exists despite greater understanding of genetic, neurobiologic, and social underpinnings of the development of these illnesses that has resulted in many advances in addiction medicine. The value of assessment and brief intervention of this disease is well documented. Patients need to be identified and engaged in order for them to be treated. A variety of evidence-based pharmacologic and psychotherapeutic treatments are now available. Strong evidence exists that treatment of patients for SUDs produces results similar to or better than those obtained from treatment for other chronic illnesses. It is also clear that physicians can play a pivotal role in helping to reduce the burden of disease related to SUDs However, to do this, physicians need to be better educated.
Through such education comes greater confidence in identification and providing treatment. Also, the discomfort and stigma often associated with this disease are reduced. The federal government—through the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the Surgeon General, the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of the Department of Transportation (DOT)—is expending concerted efforts to improve physician education in addiction medicine. These efforts culminated in the Second Leadership Conference on Medical Education in Substance Abuse in December 2006. The osteopathic medical profession was represented at this conference.
This article reviews not only the recommendations from this meeting, but also the nature of the problem, how members of the osteopathic medical profession are currently addressing it, and a strategy for improvement endorsed by the American Osteopathic Academy of Addiction Medicine.
We enlist your expertise in developing strategies to promote medical education curricula on drug and alcohol related disorders, the improvement of medical education after graduation, implementation of screening and brief intervention in mainstream medical care, obtaining appropriate physician reimbursement for these services, and preventing the non-medical use of prescription medications.
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