Dr. Baxter Looks Back at his Term as President

Louis E. Baxter, Sr., M.D., FASAM

Louis E. Baxter, Sr., M.D., FASAM

When I assumed the presidency of ASAM in 2009, I pledged to represent and serve you, the ASAM member, and your highest aspirations as caregivers. I also outlined my goals for continuing to define and develop this unique organization called ASAM, in its evolving role as a well-recognized, well-established and increasingly respected professional specialty society. Optimistic and goal-driven as I am, it would have been impossible then to anticipate all we have accomplished.

Advocating for Enlightened Public Policies
ASAM’s Government Relations Department has worked diligently to advance our Society’s influence in shaping addiction-related federal policies, including the recently enacted health care reform legislation and the interim regulations implementing the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008.

During my tenure as ASAM president, I have commissioned four new task forces to address some of the most important issues facing our field. The task forces are the Justice System Action Group, the Health Information and Technology Action Group, the Diagnostic and Descriptive Terminology Action Group, and the Medical Marijuana Task Force.

Also in the past two years, ASAM’s Board has approved a number of new and updated public policy statements.

Improving Access to Care, Quality of Addiction Treatment
Prescribing of methadone has grown substantially in recent years because a growing number of individuals need treatment for either of the indications for which methadone is FDA-approved — opioid addiction or chronic pain.

In response to the need for training and mentoring in this field, ASAM launched the Physician Clinical Support System for Methadone (PCSS-M) to assist practicing physicians and other health care providers in prescribing for, and managing patients on methadone. With the SAHMSA-funded PCSS-M in the third year of operation, ASAM recently launched a sister project, the NIDA-funded Physician Clinical Support System for Primary Care (PCSS-P). The PCSS-P strengthen efforts to increase alcohol, tobacco, and drug screening and interventions in primary care settings through mentoring, education and training.

In late 2010, the Harvard Business School began a one-year project to help expand the use of the ASAM Patient Placement Criteria (PPC). A team of four students will help ASAM pursue a commercial software developer to take the PPC text and produce an end-user, counselor-assessment software application.

In regards to the access to treatment in criminal justice settings, I was elected to the Board of Directors of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, which is working to reverse the current dismal situation. I am also a member of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy’s (ONDCP) small group of experts who helped develop President Barack Obama’s Strategic National Plan to address the addiction treatment needs in the U.S.

Strengthening ASAM and Enhancing Member Service
I have long believed that ASAM has the potential to be — indeed, has a moral obligation to be — a leader within the house of medicine. ASAM can do so by helping to shape the awareness, knowledge, and practices of the larger group as they relate to the disease of addiction, the evidence base for addiction treatment, and the clinical specialty of addiction medicine.

During the past two years, the Society’s courses and conferences brought together experts from the U.S. and abroad to meet with our members so as to advance the knowledge base in addiction medicine and related medical specialties. These include:

  • ASAM’s 2010 review course in addiction medicine
  • ASAM’s 2009 course on the state of the art in addiction medicine
  • The MRO course and the MROCC examination
  • A course on best practices in buprenorphine treatment for opioid dependence
  • The Ruth Fox Course
  • ASAM’s annual course “Pain and Addiction: Common Threads”

During my presidency, ASAM has embarked on a vigorous expansion of its publications program, updating publications that include our newsletter and journal, our well-respected textbook and more specialized publications. Some of the highlights include the Fourth Edition of Principles of Addiction Medicine, the new Supplement on Pharmacotherapies for Alcohol Use Disorders, and a new ASAM reference work, Essentials of Addiction Medicine.

A high priority throughout my tenure has been defining and delivering new ways we can serve ASAM’s members, such as a new ASAM Weekly newsbrief, a new online Career Center, an onsite newspaper at the Med-Sci Conference and a new Live Learning Center.

Even as I take pride in our achievements during the past two years, I am well aware of the challenges ahead. ASAM must continue to focus on finding new sources of funding for workforce development, expand our roles into new and emerging health care markets, and continue our collaboration with key stakeholders in Congress and the federal agencies, as well as organizations representing education, research, and business.

As always, ASAM’s elected officers, board, council chairs, and staff encourage and welcome your involvement. Thank you for all you have done, and for affording me this opportunity to serve. – See more at: http://asam-365.ascendeventmedia.com/Highlight.aspx?id=2728&p=261#sthash.NYLkcags.dpuf