ASAM Spearheads New Primary Care Addiction Programs

Related Sessions Presented Saturday

Two related sessions about integrating addiction medicine into a primary care practice will be presented Saturday.

10 a.m. to Noon: Workshop C: How to Establish and Integrate Addiction Medicine into an Existing or New Family Care, Internal Medicine Practice, in the Georgetown East Room on the Concourse Level
2 to 4 p.m.: Symposium #10: Addressing Substance Use Disorders in Primary Care and the Patient Centered Medical Home, in the Jefferson Room on the Concourse Level. Among the speakers will be Edwina Rogers, executive director of the Patient Centered Primary Care Collaborative (PCPCC), a group of 700 medical groups, including ASAM, as well as insurance companies and major businesses that are supporting the patient-centered medical home concept.

Health care reform is driving many changes in medical practice, with primary care physicians being a focal point in the development of the patient-centered medical home. The role of addiction medicine in these changes was discussed in a Component Session Thursday night.

Among the topics addressed in “Addiction Medicine and Primary Care: Recent Positive Developments” were the training of primary care physicians in addiction counseling, a training program to screen for substance abuse, and the role of a private group in moving addiction medicine into primary care.

“Those are exciting things ASAM is involved with to get patient-centered medical homes and primary care physicians to address substance use disorders and provide help in education,” said Norman Wetterau, M.D., FAAFP, FASAM, who led the discussion. Dr. Wetterau is also the ASAM liaison to the Physician Clinical Support System for Primary Care (PCCS-P).

Many positive developments are happening in this area because of increased federal support, including grants for these primary care goals, he said. First among them is the PCSS-P, a mentoring program to provide support to primary care physicians (see related story on page 7).

PCSS-P is funded by a grant administered by ASAM and funded by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Under the program, primary care providers can gain access to clinical resources, information, and materials about managing substance abuse. Resources include addiction clinical experts serving as mentors and providing education about managing substance abuse via phone or email. These mentors can also assist primary care physicians in incorporating substance abuse screenings, brief interventions, and treatments into their practices.

ASAM has also just launched a new online skills training for primary care providers on Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT). is a NIDA-funded program that is being conducted in collaboration with one of ASAM’s leading institutional partners, Clinical Tools. The program offers training for primary care physicians to improve their skills for screening for substance abuse and work with substance abuse specialists.

SBIRT offers screening tools for tobacco, alcohol, and drug abuse; teaches implementation of brief interventions and other treatments; explains referral and follow-up processes; and offers case-based learning with patients.

Another facet of the cooperation with primary care is the development of COPE  — the Coalition on Physician Education in Substance Use Disorders — a not-for-profit group. It is dedicated to training physicians to prevent, identify, and provide specialty-appropriate interventions for patients who use tobacco or illicit drugs, or are involved in the unhealthy use of alcohol or non-medical use of prescription drugs.

Also discussed during the session was Society of Teachers of Family Medicine, which got its start during an ASAM conference two years ago. The group will have a conference in two weeks with a focus on helping family practice residency faculties teach addiction medicine training to trainees.