Med-Sci Conference Takes on the Hot Topics in Addiction Medicine

ASAM's 43rd Annual Medical-Scientific Conference takes place today through Sunday in downtown Atlanta, home of the spectacular Centennial Olympic Park.

ASAM’s 43rd Annual Medical-Scientific Conference takes place today through Sunday in downtown Atlanta, home of the spectacular Centennial Olympic Park.

The 43rd ASAM Medical-Scientific Conference will tackle the most pressing addiction medicine issues from prescription drug abuse to synthetic cannabinoids in continuing medical education sessions today through Sunday. Medical-Scientific Program Committee Chair Gavin Bart, M.D., FACP, FASAM, also says key sessions will address the maintenance of certification process through the American Board of Addiction Medicine, and the development and accredita­tion of addiction medicine residencies.

“The goal of the Medical-Scientific Conference is to bring the latest developments in research and clinical practice to various health professionals who work with patients and families affected by addictive diseases,” he says. “It’s really the premier forum for the translation of research into practice for addictive diseases.”

Dr. Bart draws attention to key sessions that conference registrants will want to consider in planning their daily schedules. A major highlight today is the Opening Scientific Plenary and Distinguished Scientist Lecture Award from 9 to 10:30 a.m. in Grand Ballroom East, Ballroom AB. The plenary addresses “Screening and Brief Intervention for Unhealthy Alcohol and Other Drug Use: Where the Evidence Is…and Isn’t.” Also, today’s National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) Symposium 2 will present the latest updates on medication management for alcoholism. The symposium will be presented from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. in Grand Salon West, Salon D.

Dr. Bart also encourages conference registrants to visit two important displays. The 2012 Medical-Scientific Program Committee Award-Winning Paper 4, “Comparing the Drinkers Pyramid to Prevalence of At-Risk Use and Alcohol Use Disorders in Emergency Depart­ment and Urgent Care Settings,” developed by J. Aaron Johnson, Ph.D., is on display from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. today during Paper Session I in Grand Salon East, Salon A.

Additionally, Dr. Bart recommends the Young Investigator Award-Winning Paper 7, “A Randomized Controlled Trial Comparing the Long-Term Analgesic Effectiveness of Six Months Buprenor­phine and Methadone Treatment in Patients with Chronic Non-Malignant Pain and Opioid Addiction.” The paper developed by Anne Neumann, Ph.D., MA, is on display from 3 to 5 p.m., today during Paper Session II, Grand Salon East, Salon A.

This year’s Medical-Scientific Conference also takes on a troublesome, emerging addiction topic—prescription drug abuse. “Several sessions throughout the conference will address this topic in terms of prevention, diversion, and treatment of overdose,” Dr. Bart says. “ASAM is really tackling this problem of prescription drug abuse head-on and has developed a policy statement about safe prescribing practices.”

A session he particularly recommends on this topic is the Policy Plenary, “Addressing Prescription Drug Abuse: Role of the Physician in Counteracting Diversion, Misuse and Addiction” from 8 to 9:30 a.m., Saturday, in Grand Ballroom East, Ballroom AB, featuring a guest speaker from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). CDC’s headquarters in Atlanta made it possible for the agency and ASAM to collaborate on this session.

“The CDC was a natural partner in our Medical-Scientific Conference this year,” Dr. Bart says. “CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control stands at the forefront of initiatives for screening, intervention, and referral to treatment, as well as tracking the prescription drug epidemic. Several sessions at the conference will be devoted to these topics.”

Another Saturday highlight is Component Session 5, “State Medicaid Limitations on Buprenorphine: How to Fight Back,” from 10 a.m. to noon in Grand Salon West, Salon E. Sunday sessions are worthy of consideration as well, particularly Symposium 11, “Emerging Drugs,” from 8 to 10 a.m. in Grand Salon West, Salon D.

“We are all concerned about new drugs of abuse,” Dr. Bart says. “Synthetic cannabinoids and synthetic stimulants, often referred to as bath salts, have received much media attention, so we will present the latest information on those substances.”

Another hot topic Sunday will be addressed in Component Session 8, “The American Board of Addiction Medicine (ABAM) and Maintenance of Certification: Our Role in the Movement Toward Improved Quality of Care,” from 10 a.m. to noon in Rooms 206-207.

“Because the American Board of Addiction Medicine will go live this year with maintenance of certification, we will need to understand the major expectations,” Dr. Bart said. “We must learn how to participate in lifelong learning and self-assessments required in the process.”

One blockbuster Medical-Scientific Session already occurred Thursday — the daylong National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Blending Initiative Knowledge Exchange Meeting. Leading addiction medicine experts addressed everything from new pharmacotherapy approaches for substance use disorders to implementing Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) in primary care settings and emergency departments.

“One of the biggest and newest developments is that ASAM had partnered with NIDA to bring its Blending Initiative meeting to the ASAM Medical-Scientific Conference,” Dr. Bart says. “This meeting brought NIDA’s Clinical Trials Network studies to addiction medicine specialists for direct application to clinical practice. Previously, NIDA conducted this as a standalone conference. From the NIDA Blending Initiative meeting, ASAM Med-Sci Conference registrants may return to their practices and immediately apply skills they learned.”

Dr. Bart also applauds the ASAM e-Live Learning Center, the second year for this service that allows conference registrants to access sessions through the ASAM e-Live Learning Center.

“The painful circumstance of having to choose between two overlapping sessions in the same time slot is now eliminated,” Dr. Bart says. “Registrants may log in and view any conference content from the comfort of their own homes or offices. They can also earn CME by viewing these sessions online. This is a great value-added feature of the conference.”