Sunday Conference News

Med-Sci 2013 Blows into the Windy City

ASAM members in Chicago are looking forward to introducing their fellow ASAM members from around the country to the sights, sounds, and foods the Windy City for next year’s ASAM Medical-Scientific Conference April 25-28, 2013 in Chicago. The conference venue will be the Chicago Hilton.

Illinois Society of Addiction Medicine (ISAM) President John Peterson, M.D. says his chapter hopes to contribute to the speakers featured at next year’s conference.

“Chicago is a good place to hold a conference,” he says. “It will mean a lot to our chapter to have the conference in Chicago because it will allow more of us to attend.”

ISAM Chapter members will no doubt take an active role in staffing the 2013 ASAM Annual Medical-Scientific Conference, says Dr. Peterson, an Urbana, IL. Emergency Room Physician. He is also complimentary of the support ASAM offers its members and says the organization continues to serve as “the voice” of addiction medicine.

“Nobody does a better job of keeping addiction medicine professionals up to date with the research and policy affecting our specialty,” he says.

While launching the planning phase for next year, Dr. Peterson says the Illinois chapter is currently involved in literary reviews of key topics within the field. In May, ISAM will review White Paper on Marijuana by Andrea Barthwell, M.D. Likewise, Dr. Peterson says ISAM maintains a close watch on the state’s Medicaid funding cuts and its impact on addiction medicine.

Member Profile: Addiction Is a Health Care Issue

Daniel Glick, M.D., APBN, ABAM, FASAM

Daniel Glick, M.D., APBN, ABAM, FASAM

ASAM provides Daniel Glick, M.D., APBN, ABAM, FASAM, access to a dynamic network of career professionals who are leading a state-of-the-art, scientific movement to modernize and expand the working knowledge about addictive biology. The big impact of this work is driving a refocus on the problems of addictive disorders toward their appropriate categorization as an epidemic health care issue versus a legislative issue. Dr. Glick is an Addiction Psychiatrist at Scottsdale Psychiatry and Addiction Medicine and President of the Arizona Society of Addiction Medicine.

“American society still pretends to believe in temperance despite 13 years of failed experimentation with Prohibition and then collecting decades of rigorous medical research that corroborates a ‘disease model of addiction,'” he says. “These are medical problems that deserve medical solutions. Judicial solutions just haven’t worked, have they?”

He first became a member of ASAM in the mid-1990s, becoming inactive for a short time due to a change in his practice, and then later reactivating. Today, Dr. Glick remains highly involved with his local chapter, serving as an officer on its board of directors, chairing its past three annual medical conferences, and participating in community affairs. Additionally, he has contributed as a member of ASAM’s Physicians Health Committee. In recognition of his various efforts, Dr. Glick was honored to become a newly elected Fellow of ASAM.

“ASAM is a national resource of forward-thinking, dedicated men and women who graciously carry out ASAM’s mission and goals,” he says. “ASAM is a powerful leading voice in the contemporary dialogue on addiction.”

Member Profile: Persistent about Forming Alliances

Roy E. Smith, M.D.

Roy E. Smith, M.D.

Forming alliances goes a long way in promoting addiction medicine advocacy, and Roy E. Smith, M.D., an ASAM member since 2009, has jumped in with both feet in his passion about educating more primary care physicians regarding the specialty. He is Medical Director of LRADAC Inpatient Detox and Outpatient Treatment Center in Columbia, S.C., and is currently President of the South Carolina Society of Addiction Medicine.

In addition to his work in educating primary care physicians about addiction, Dr. Smith has applied his energies toward encouraging his state chapter to form alliances and partnerships with ASAM’s Georgia and North Carolina chapters. Working together, these alliances have created opportunities for continuing medical education. Additionally, he works with his state’s Physician Advocacy and Assistance Committee (PAAC) to assist in substance recovery among health care professionals.

“The greatest benefit of ASAM membership is the opportunity to connect with other addiction professionals nationwide,” Dr. Smith says. “Its board certification program and educational resources are outstanding.”

Member Profile: Passionate About Involvement

Kelly Clark, M.D., M.B.A, DFAPA, FASAM

Kelly Clark, M.D., M.B.A, DFAPA, FASAM

Get involved. Your voice of advocacy is needed. Just ask Kelly Clark, M.D., M.B.A, DFAPA, FASAM, who serves as Medical Director for Behavioral Health at Capital District Physician’s Health Plan (CDPHP). An ASAM member for 10 years, she is President of the Kentucky Society of Addiction Medicine.

“I am passionate about addiction medicine,” she says. “Being involved gives professionals a real opportunity to make a difference for our patients, our practices, and our communities.”

An ASAM Fellow, Dr. Clark is an ex-officio member of the ASAM Board of Directors, and co-chairs the ASAM Finance Committee and the ASAM Legislative Action Committee.  She has also served on ASAM’s Pain and Addiction Committee and its Pharmacological Issues Workgroup.

“We are the voice of evidence-based medicine instead of anecdotal medicine,” she says. “Without ASAM, there would not be enough voices to represent patients or physicians dealing with addiction.”

October 12 the Deadline for 2013 Conference Abstracts

The American Society of Addiction Medicine relies on addiction medicine specialists to bring the latest science to each year’s Medical-Scientific Conference by submitting abstracts, courses, and workshops. Therefore, ASAM invites member and non-member addiction specialists to submit programs for the 2013 Medical-Scientific Conference by the abstract submission deadline of October 12. Next year’s conference will be April 25-28, in Chicago.

The Medical-Scientific Program Committee reviews submissions for quality, interest, and appropriateness. The committee specifically seeks submissions that address topics that registrants of past conferences have indicated as significant to addiction medicine. In clinical addiction medicine, these key topics include pain and addiction, neurobiology of addiction, benzodiazepine dependence, marijuana dependence, nicotine dependence, co-occurring opiate and benzodiazepine dependence, pathological gambling, approaches for treating dual diagnoses, sleep and addiction, traumatic brain injury and addiction, advanced buprenorphine treatment, interpretation of drug screening tests, and holistic healing.

In addition to clinical topics, other hot categories and topics include the latest updates in policy, such as health care reform updates; practice management issues, such as electronic health records in the addiction setting; and how to set up an addiction medicine practice; and socio-medical topics, such as gender-specific approaches to treatment and adolescent addiction.

ASAM also confers prestigious awards for best abstracts. The ASAM Medical-Scientific Program Planning Committee Award goes to the author receiving the highest rating for scientific merit. The committee seeks that one special author for this key award who has presented new ideas or findings of importance to the field of addiction medicine based on sound methodology and clarity of presentations. ASAM also presents the Young Investigator Award to the winning paper’s first author, an individual who has earned a doctoral degree within the past five years.

All abstracts are carefully vetted by the Medical-Scientific Conference Abstract Review Committee, which also determines the category of presentation most appropriate for each submission. Paper presentations showcase research findings or data on clinical experiences delivered in 15-minute talks, followed by five-minute question and answer periods. Poster presentations provide an excellent opportunity to share research interests and ideas, with poster presenters attending their poster during designated periods.

Courses offer a review of basic concepts or new material in special areas using a lecture format. Topics suited for courses include diagnostic approaches, specialized treatment areas, or translating research findings into practical clinical terms. Workshops serve as an ideal venue for subjects best handled informally in give-and-take sessions of small groups, addressing the development of special skills, particular diagnostic or treatment problems, or other issues requiring the active exchange of ideas.

Information about the requirements and submission process for abstracts will be available this summer on the ASAM website. The Society looks forward to your participation in contributing toward program excellence for the 2013 ASAM Medical-Scientific Conference.

ASAM the Voice of Addiction Medicine on Capitol Hill

From one Medical-Scientific Conference to another, the ASAM Legislative Advocacy Committee works behind the scenes advocating for the addiction medicine specialty and its patients. The committee has much to show in terms of plans for the future and achievements from the past year.

ASAM Legislative Advocacy Committee Co-chairs Ken Roy, M.D., and Kelly Clark, M.D., M.B.A., report the committee focuses its efforts on both the state and national levels to represent the voice of addiction medicine. Dr. Roy currently serves as Medical Director at Addiction Recovery Resources, New Orleans, and Co-Chair of ASAM’s Public Affairs Council. Dr. Clark is the Behavioral Health Medical Director at CDPHP, Albany, N.Y., and an ex-officio member of ASAM’s Board of Directors.

“There are numerous issues to tackle in the area of addiction medicine,” Dr. Roy says. “But regularly, ASAM’s Government Relations Staff, and the Legislative Advocacy Committee meet to discuss our priorities and stay on track with those issues in which we believe we can be effective.”

ASAM’s chief concerns relate to state and federal policies that would expand access to treatment for the 23 million Americans who suffer with substance use disorders. Those policies most often tackled by ASAM’s Government Relations Department and Legislative Advocacy Committee include issues of providing parity in health insurance coverage for mental health and addiction disorders, securing the inclusion of strong addiction and mental health treatment benefits under health care reform, expanding and improving addiction treatment for America’s veterans, regulating the marketing of tobacco and alcohol products to youth, and increasing the appropriation of federal dollars to key government agencies that provide addiction treatment, prevention, and recovery resources.

To maintain a strong presence in the nation’s capital, ASAM engages in a blend of legislative strategies to advance addiction prevention, treatment, and recovery policies, such as “lobby days” and ASAM Action Alerts. In 2011, for example, 35 ASAM members participated in ASAM’s annual Legislative Day, attending meetings with congressional offices to discuss and educate members on federal policies related to the practice of addiction medicine. This was ASAM’s best-attended, most successful Legislative Day to date.

ASAM also organizes Capitol Hill policy briefings to educate Congress about the health, economic, and legal benefits of implementing pro-addiction treatment policies and partnering with mental health and addiction coalitions that represent a spectrum of public and private mental health and addiction issues.

In its advocacy capacity, Dr. Clark says one of ASAM’s legislative accomplishments in 2011 was its collaborative work with the Coalition for Whole Health. Specifically, Dr. Clark says it involved coalition comments made in August 2011 to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services regarding proposals to cover depression and alcohol misuse screenings for adult Medicare beneficiaries, something that is now covered, she says.

More work lies ahead for ASAM’s Legislative Advocacy Committee, including the issue of achieving true parity in health care coverage. Specifically, ASAM supports insurance coverage for the treatment of addiction that is equal to that of coverage for treatment of other medical illnesses. However, the path to achieving “real parity” has not reached the level it should, Dr. Clark says. Congress passed the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act in 2008, but the federal agencies responsible for drafting the regulations that implement this law have yet to issue final rules.

“As we look at health care reform, it’s important for legislators to realize that addiction is a biological illness, it’s widespread, and that to be treated effectively, it must be covered in health insurance plans,” Dr. Clark says.

Drs. Roy and Clark said ASAM continues to work with state chapters to strengthen the effectiveness of its objectives. To that end, Dr. Roy advises visiting ASAM’s website, where local chapters can access state and federal advocacy toolkits.

Parity Implementation Coalition Advocates Mental Health Support

A. Kenison Roy, M.D., FASAM

A. Kenison Roy, M.D., FASAM

ASAM will continue to push for adequate funding for mental health and addiction treatment as a major participant in the Parity Implementation Coalition, says A. Kenison Roy III, M.D., DFAPA, FASAM, Vice Chair of the ASAM Legislative Advocacy Committee. The coalition, with 14 member groups, seeks to ensure allocation of health care resources and services for mental health and addiction comparable to those provided for other health conditions.

Parity efforts are aimed at achieving proper enforcement of the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, which was an amendment to the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act. Interim final regulations for the law went into effect in January 2010 for plan years beginning on or after July 1, 2010.

The Parity Act protects a group health plan’s mental health and/or substance use benefits, and was designed to end inequitable access to mental health benefits compared to those for general health. The Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act, which became law in 2010, embraced provisions of the Parity Act, Dr. Roy notes.

“ASAM pointedly took no position on health care reform overall, but lobbied strongly and successfully for inclusion of provisions buttressing treatment of addiction,” Dr. Roy says. “Regardless of the decision to be made by the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of the health care law, ASAM and the Coalition will continue to advocate for parity for addiction treatment, including delivery systems and financing.”

“ASAM’s view is that addiction is an illness and merits the same level of treatment and access to resources as other illnesses. As a member of the Coalition, we work hard on issues related to parity,” he adds.

Field hearings on these issues are planned across the country by Patrick Kennedy and Jim Ramstad, former Democratic and Republican members of Congress from Rhode Island and Minnesota, respectively. These hearings are intended “to make sure that parity comes to pass” and isn’t “sabotaged” by being starved of resources or otherwise, Dr. Roy says. The total number of hearings and their locations have not been finalized, although, according to a recent comment made by Ramstad, three are tentatively scheduled in the next three months, and a fourth is definitely set for St. Paul, Minn., on July 17.

“Assuming that the Affordable Care Act survives the current Supreme Court review, states will form health insurance exchanges, whose plans must include a minimum level of insurance coverage or “essential health benefits,” as legislated in the Affordable Care Act,” Dr. Roy says. The exchanges will offer insurance plans for those in the individual and small business markets. “There is an effort to minimize and/or diminish the requirement that addiction (and mental disorders) be covered at parity,” he says. “ASAM members can become involved by participating in their state legislative process and by helping to assure that the Essential Health Benefit in their states provide adequate treatment for addiction.”

Ruth Fox Scholarship Brings Residents to Med-Sci Conference

Another diverse group of resident physicians attended the 2012 ASAM Medical-Scientific Conference and the Ruth Fox Course, thanks to the Ruth Fox Memorial Endowment Fund. Each year, selected residents are invited to apply for the Ruth Fox Scholarship, which includes travel and expenses, lodging, registration to the Ruth Fox Course, Medical-Scientific Conference, the ASAM Awards Luncheon, and a three-year membership in ASAM.

Awardees are also invited to attend the Ruth Fox Course for Physicians and the ASAM Welcome Reception and New Member Reception, as well as all other Med-Sci events. Scholarship recipients also meet at the end of each day with the Ruth Fox Memorial Endowment Fund Chair, Committee members, and Board members and other leaders.

The Endowment Fund was established in 1990, on the 35th anniversary of the founding of ASAM as a living tribute to Ruth Fox, M.D. (1895-1989), the ASAM founding president.

“The Ruth Fox Endowment Fund was started by the late Jasper Chen See, M.D., who felt that this fund needed to be protected and used for absolute emergency purposes only and to attract young physicians to the field of Addiction Medicine,” says Max Schneider, M.D., FASAM, Chair of the Ruth Fox Endowment Fund and Chair of the Ruth Fox Scholarship Program.

One of Dr. Schneider’s goals as chair has been to encourage resident physicians in family practice, pediatrics, and internal medicine, as well as psychiatry, to apply for the scholarship.

“They’re (family practice and internal medicine residents) the ones who don’t get this in medical school,” he says. “There are very few medical schools that teach addiction medicine.” These physicians are also often the first physicians that people with addiction-related issues often see.

The Ruth Fox Scholarship Program also has encouraged resident physicians from around the United States and Canada to apply.

“It’s important that word of this opportunity reaches to schools all around the country,” he says. “It is my hope that we can select residents from different groups each year to spread the word to as many training programs as possible.”

Previous resident physicians who have attended the ASAM Medical-Scientific Conference have provided positive feedback on their experience and have made good suggestions on topics to include, Dr. Schneider notes.

Endowment funds are maintained in a separate account from ASAM’s annual operating account. The Board’s policy is to keep the principal intact, using earnings to support designated activities. The Fund has reached $4.5 million in pledges and gifts toward its $10 million goal.

For information about making a pledge, contribution, bequest, or memorial tribute, or to discuss other types of gifts in confidence to support the Endowment Fund, contact Claire Osman at 1-800-257-6776 or (718) 275-7766, or via email at asamclaire@aol.com. Contributions to the Endowment Fund can also be made on the ASAM website. All contributions to the Endowment Fund are tax-deductible to the full extent allowed by law.

NCADD Uses April to Highlight Problem of Underage Drinking

More than 6,500 youths under age 21 die each year from injuries suffered in accidents involving underage drinking. To highlight this important issue, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) made April NCADD Alcohol Awareness Month.

Of those 6,500 deaths, almost 2,400 occur in driving crashes and almost 2,400 die in other accidents, such as falls or fires. Another 1,500 youths die in alcohol-related homicides, 300 in suicides, and others to alcohol overdose, according to the NCADD.

“The issue of underage drinking is a complex problem, one that can only be solved through a sustained and cooperative effort,” says Robert J. Lindsey, NCADD President/CEO. “But, if we care about the health and well being of our children, the bottom line, based on science, is that we need to do everything we can to discourage them from drinking alcohol until age 21.”

It is relatively easy for teenagers to get access to alcohol, with 16 percent of all alcohol sales attributed to underage drinkers. Children are flooded with media messages that glamorize alcohol use, increasing the likelihood that they will drink alcohol.

“We need to wake up to the problem of underage drinking and recognize the reality that for some, alcoholism and addiction develop at a young age and that intervention, treatment, and recovery support are essential for them and their families,” says Lindsey. “We can’t afford to wait any longer.”

The NCADD has sponsored Alcohol Awareness Month each April since 1987 to increase public awareness and understanding, reduce stigma, and encourage local communities to focus on alcoholism and alcohol-related issues.

Alcohol use by young people is extremely dangerous—both to themselves and to society, and it is associated with traffic fatalities, violence, unsafe sex, suicide, educational failure, alcohol overdose and other problem behaviors.

Some important basic Facts About Underage Drinking:

  • Alcohol is the No. 1 drug of choice for America’s young people, more than tobacco or illicit drugs.
  • Those who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcoholism than those who begin at age 21.
  • Each day, 7,000 children in the United States under the age of 16 take their first drink.
  • Underage alcohol use costs the nation an estimated $62 billion annually.

Reducing underage drinking is critical to securing a healthy future for America’s youth and requires a cooperative effort from parents, schools, community organizations, business leaders, government agencies, the entertainment industry, alcohol manufacturers/retailers, and young people. Alcohol Awareness Month highlights the need to work together to create comprehensive education, prevention, enforcement, intervention, and treatment resources.

For more information about NCADD, underage drinking, and NCADD Alcohol Awareness Month, visit the NCADD website.

ASAM Plans Campaign to Advocate for Medication-Assisted Treatment of Addiction

Mark L. Kraus, M.D., FASAM

Mark L. Kraus, M.D., FASAM

Issues arising from the 2012 ASAM Annual Medical-Scientific Conference will set into motion a campaign to persuade insurance companies, government officials, and others about the health and fiscal value of medication-assisted treatment for addiction, says ASAM Patient Advocacy Task Force Chair Mark L. Kraus, M.D., FASAM.

Two sessions during this year’s conference set the stage for informing addiction medicine specialists about the issues, the resistance to, and the resulting advocacy for medication-assisted treatment to address addiction. “State Medicaid Limitations on Buprenorphine: How to Fight Back” and “Addressing Prescription Drug Abuse: Role of the Physician in Counteracting Diversion, Misuse, and Addiction” were both presented Saturday.

ASAM appointed a new Patient Advocacy Task Force to confront this major U.S. medications crisis, and the task force has launched a campaign to advocate medication-assisted treatment for addiction on many different fronts. The crisis involves widespread drug-abuse issues, which have culminated in efforts by state and federal government officials and insurance companies to unduly restrict the use of prescription drugs to treat drug and alcohol addiction, Dr. Kraus says.

If similar restrictions were applied to medications for heart disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure, that would spark “a lot more ruckus” than has been true of access limits for addiction medicine, he says. Insurers and others are concerned about costs, yet “it’s been shown that these medications save money” by preventing the ravages of addiction. He adds, “Addiction is not going to be wished away—it has to be treated.”

Dr. Kraus, who is a Diplomate of the American Board of Addiction Medicine and Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at Yale University School of Medicine, cites limitations in Maine and other states on the use of buprenorphine, curbs in other states on use of methadone, and still other states that don’t offer any medication-assisted treatment for addiction. Many insurance companies specify what form—tablet or film strip, for example—that a prescription medicine is allowed, for how many months, what dosage, and how frequently the medication can be taken.

“That intrusion must be stopped,” Dr. Kraus says. “Policy makers seem to believe that they are saving money through medication-access limitations, but instead, they are boosting society’s costs. It has been shown that these medications save money in the long run. Having no treatment costs society a lot of money—money that we don’t have.”

Stay tuned for progress of the ASAM Patient Advocacy Task Force in advocating for medication-assisted treatment of addiction by frequently visiting the ASAM website, www.asam.org.