Dr. Kurth Welcomes Attendees to Conference

Donald J. Kurth, M.D., FASAM

Donald J. Kurth, M.D., FASAM

Welcome to ASAM’s 42nd Annual Medical-Scientific Conference and 8th Annual Legislative Day in our nation’s capital, Washington, DC. As the incoming president of the pre-eminent addiction physicians’ education, research and treatment organization in America, I am pleased to extend my warmest greetings to each and every one of our friends, visitors, guests, and members.

This year’s conference is just packed with activities spanning the entire week. Someone once said, “No margin — No mission.” If we cannot find a way to live within our available resources, we can never accomplish the great goals we have set for ourselves. But I can tell you this, we are up for that challenge.

On Wednesday, our policy-minded physicians reached out to our nation’s leaders during the ASAM Legislative Day to help move national addiction public policy in a thoughtful, compassionate and evidence-based direction. On Thursday, our internationally famous pre-conferences took center stage just packed with useful information for both the entry level and the seasoned veteran addictionists.

Med-Sci Committee Chair Gavin Bart, M.D., FASAM, CME Committee Chairs Adam Gordon, M.D., and Edwin Salsitz, M.D., and their hard working committees have put together a line-up of educational talks this year may be the best we have ever seen at ASAM’s Med-Sci. Following the ASAM Business Meeting on Friday morning, our Scientific Plenary and Distinguished Scientist Lecture Award winner, George E. Vaillant, M.D., kicks off Med-Sci with his talk, “Using Occam’s Razor on Dual Diagnosis.”

Let me touch a just a few highlights. Symposium No. 4 includes International Society of Addiction Medicine President Hannu Alho, Gabriell Welle-Strand, M.D., and others discussing innovative addiction treatment models from around the world.

On the public policy front there are two big initiatives that I will mention. The first, of course, is our successful battle for national addiction treatment parity, which was signed into law by President George Bush on October 5, 2008. Parity became fully enforceable as of January 1, 2011. However, the battle is not over and we simply cannot sit on our duffs and wait for successful implementation of these laws. We and our patients still must continue the fight to be ensured the rights we have won.

The second public policy initiative that you will be hearing more about is The Americans in Recovery Act (TARA). Just as the Americans with Disabilities Act brought those suffering from physical disabilities out of the shadows, so TARA will allow our patients in successful recovery from drugs and alcohol to finally become full-fledged citizens of the U.S..

Before closing, I want to thank Immediate Past President Louis Baxter, M.D., for the fine job he has done as ASAM president these past two years. We have a great organization in fine shape to tackle the challenges of the future. And next, I want to welcome all of our new ASAM officers and Board members to the leadership of our wonderful organization. Our new officers include Stanley Gitlow, M.D., president-elect; Herb Malinoff, M.D., secretary; and Lori Karan, M.D., treasurer. We have some stiff challenges ahead, but I know each one of them is up for the job.

Finally, I want to welcome our new Executive Vice President Penny Mills and Deputy Director, Louis Shomette, on board, and offer my heartfelt thanks to all of our ASAM staff for all that they do to keep ASAM the premier addiction physician organization that is it.

I want all of our membership to feel free to contact me at any time for any reason. I would love to hear whatever is on your mind. Please enjoy yourselves and have a wonderful time at the best Annual Med-Sci Conference ASAM has ever presented.