Fundamentals Course Aimed at Primary Care Professionals

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Peter Selby, MBBS

A new Med-Sci Pre-Conference course, “The ASAM Fundamentals of Addiction Medicine,” helped members and non-members learn more about addiction medicine and how to recognize, treat and/or refer patients.

Thursday’s daylong course featured an energetic and interactive format, with active roundtables and facilitators. Sessions were heavily focused on active learning, such as skills demonstration and skills building, and less on lecturing. Audience response devices were used throughout the day to challenge attendees to test their new knowledge.

“The goal of the course was to build expertise among primary care physicians and psychiatrists to treat patients with addiction with the same confidence they would have in treating any other chronic illness. This will help empower participants to confidently embark on a very rewarding professional journey to incorporate addiction medicine into their daily practices and save countless lives,” said Peter Selby, MBBS, CCFP, FASAM, ABAM Diplomate, the Course Chair and Curriculum Director.

The growing need to expand the physician’s role in treating addiction is due, in part, to medical and psychiatric illnesses among patients with substance use disorders, he said. Contributing to the need is the development of new medications and access to those medications and medical care through coverage available because of the Affordable Care Act.

With the expansion of the physician’s role and increased patient access to medical care, it is appropriate that the need for early intervention starts to take place in primary care and general psychiatry practice, Dr. Selby said. Attendees left the course better equipped to identify their feelings and attitudes that promote or prevent therapeutic responses to their patients with substance use disorders. Attendees will be contacted three and six months after the course for feedback about the changes they have made to their practices.

Speakers at the session discussed the three major neurocircuits underlying addictive disorders and their clinical implications, universal screening tools to identify substance use in patients, counseling strategies to motivate patients, and how to conduct a biopsychosocial and developmental ambulatory assessment. The day concluded with a session on proven and effective medications to treat a variety of addictions, notably alcohol, opioid, and tobacco addictions.

“Addiction is a chronic, relapsing disorder that is immensely treatable,” Dr. Selby said. “Early treatment can save lives, helping not only the individual, but families and society. It’s unfortunate that this segment of the population has been neglected for so long.”