Addiction Medicine: And Now, for Some Good News

With media attention focused for the last few years on the spread of the opioid epidemic, it can be easy for clinicians to forget that addiction medicine is also one of the most rewarding medical specialties.

“You can see patients progress from sickness to wellness in a relatively short period of time,” noted Louis E. Baxter, MD, in an interview with the American Medical Association. “It’s rewarding to see folks that were down and out—in terms of their health and their life, their ability to earn and care for their family—return to become healthy and contributing members of society.”

Good News in Addiction Medicine

In that spirit of encouragement, we thought it was time to focus some attention on success stories and breakthroughs in the field of addiction medicine. Read on for a roundup of some of the most uplifting recent news.

Drug Overdose Deaths Drop in U.S. for the First Time Since 1990

The New York Times, July 2019
A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention signals what experts are calling “a light at the end of the tunnel.” The decline is due almost entirely to a reduction in deaths from prescription opioid painkillers, and overdose deaths involving other drugs continued to rise. Therefore, experts are remaining cautiously optimistic about whether the decline marks the beginning of a sustained reversal.

Northwell Opening First Addiction Treatment Facility Centered on Research

Modern Healthcare, August 2019
Opening in November 2019, Wellbridge Addiction Treatment and Research in Long Island, NY, will be the first center in the nation to integrate research and treatment into the same setting. Performing studies within clinical settings will allow researchers to address real-world patient and environmental factors that may not be present in the laboratory. The founders hope that someday Wellbridge will be synonymous with addiction medicine the way that Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and MD Anderson Cancer Center are linked to cutting-edge cancer care.

For One Rural Community, Fighting Addiction Started with Recruiting the Right Doctor

NPR, December 2018
Dr. Mark Lim is bringing healing to rural Wisconsin by expanding addiction treatment beyond opioids to include alcohol, methamphetamines, cocaine and other substances. His success comes from his dedication to ensuring that he’s addressing addiction as a whole, not just prescribing buprenorphine.

Addiction Intervention in Hospital is a “Reachable Moment”

Science News, August 2019
According to a study conducted by Oregon Health & Science Center, patients who meet an addiction medicine consult team while they are in the hospital are twice as likely to participate in treatment for substance abuse disorder after they go home. Published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, the study confirms that hospitalization presents an opportunity to intervene and improve outcomes.

ASAM Inspires Next Generation of Addiction Medicine Specialists

American Society of Addiction Medicine Specialists, February 2019
Few things are more encouraging than meeting new partners who are joining the cause. These 18 physicians-in-training were awarded Ruth Fox Scholarships this year. They will receive specialized education so they can advance the future practice of addiction medicine.

National Survey Highlights Parents’ Role in Protecting Teens from Substance Use

Center on Addiction, June 2019
When it comes to teen substance use, parents can still make a difference, according to the nation’s leading science-based nonprofit dedicated to the prevention and treatment of addiction. The Center on Addiction’s 2019 survey of adolescents found that more than half of teens said they believe parents are the most common reason kids choose not to drink or use drugs. Further, more than half of teens surveyed describe their own relationship with their parents as “excellent.”

For the First Time, U.S. Panel Recommends Screening Adults for Illicit Drug Use

STAT, August 2019
More people suffering from addiction may be identified and offered treatment thanks to recent findings from the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force. The panel has now confirmed that it can be beneficial for health care providers to routinely ask patients a series of screening questions to uncover illicit substance abuse. The answers can help health care providers assist their patients with appropriate support resources.

1 Million Americans Have Recovered from Opioid Use Disorder, Study Estimates

Becker’s Hospital Review, August 2019
Analyzing the data from the 2017 National Recovery Survey, researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital determined that an estimated 1.2 million Americans have achieved long-term recovery from opioid use disorder. The study, published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine, also examined the differences between recovery from drug addiction and recovery from alcohol abuse, offering insights into specialized strategies that will be most effective for long-term support.

Are you an addiction medicine professional? Please download our free Addiction Medicine EHR checklist to see if your practice is utilizing the right technical support tools.