Addiction 101

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  • Snapshot: MICARES

    The number of opioid-related deaths in Michigan has reached epidemic proportions, requiring the resources of three of the state’s major universities and one of its largest health systems to tackle it.

    Under a $1.5 million grant Michigan State University, Wayne State University and Grand Rapids-based Spectrum Health are collaborating to train more physicians as certified addiction medicine specialists. Currently, fewer than 200 physicians in Michigan are certified in addiction medicine or addiction psychiatry.

    "Only one physician in the Upper Peninsula is certified as an addiction medicine specialist," said Cara Poland, MD, a Spectrum Health Medical Group physician, assistant professor in the MSU College of Human Medicine, certified addiction medicine specialist.

    Poland and Strutz are leading the program called Michigan CARES (Collaborative Addiction Resources and Education System) in cooperation with Professor Mark Greenwald, PhD, who heads Wayne State University’s Substance Abuse Research Division.

    The addiction medicine specialty was formally recognized in 2016 as the opioid epidemic was increasing nationally. The usual route to certification in a medical specialty is through a fellowship program. New specialties, however, have a limited amount of time to use a “practice pathway” toward certification without a fellowship. Due to the urgency of the problem, Poland and Strutz’s new program will assist physicians in fulfilling the practice pathway requirements through online courses, clinical experiences, and leadership opportunities.

    Importantly, “Our expert interdisciplinary team will ensure that training content and principles of treatment are based on state-of-the-art scientific knowledge. This will prepare professionals on this practice pathway to deliver evidence-based health care throughout Michigan,” Greenwald said.

    In the U.S., opioid misuse was blamed for 49,000 deaths in 2017, prompting the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to lower the country’s average life expectancy. Michigan recorded nearly 2,000 opioid-related deaths in 2017, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

    Opioids include prescription painkillers, heroin, fentanyl and other synthetic drugs. “Due to recent policy changes that prescribers have followed, opioid-related deaths due to prescription painkillers have shown a modest decrease. Yet, despite this positive trend, deaths from heroin and synthetic opioids have risen. Cocaine and sedative use along with opioids also complicates the picture. Our training curriculum will be responsive to these changing tides,” Greenwald added.

    “We are in a current opioid epidemic, and by some measures Michigan is in the top 10. We literally don’t have enough doctors equipped to deal with this epidemic. Most doctors receive fewer than five hours of addiction training in medical school which is not nearly enough. This isn’t a problem any one of us can or should try to solve on our own,” Poland said. “I’m thankful we were given this opportunity.”

    Learn More


    Addiction Series Intro and OverviewWith Patrick and Dr. Cara Poland


    Addiction and the Profession of MedicineWith Patrick and Dr. Corey Waller


    Neurobiology of AddictionWith Dr. Jamie Alan and Dr. Amy Schattel


    Pharmacology and Toxicology General PrinciplesWith Dr. Jamie Alan and Dr. Amy Schattel


    Opioids with Mariah and Dr. Stewart Bryant


    AlcoholWith Mariah and Dr. Tahir


    Marijuana and NicotineWith Dr. Allek Scheele and Dr. Pranay Bonagiri


    Ethics and AddictionWith Patrick


    Addiction and PregnancyWith Patrick and Dr. Cara Poland


    Addiction, Mental Health, and Psychiatric ComorbiditiesWith Patrick and Dr. Nick Nissen


    Language of AddictionWith Patrick and Dr. Alena Balasanova


    Neurobiology of Addiction and Recovery with Dr. Christopher Blazes


    Where We're Going with Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse


    Doctoring in the Realm of Hungry Ghosts with Dr. Gabor Mate with Dr. Gabor Mate


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    Entering the field of addiction?

    The NIDA Young Investigator Travel Award encourages young investigators who are within 5-10 years of earning their PhD, MD, or DO degree entering the fields of addiction research and practice. The awards focus is to provide a training experience for young investigators in the area of drug addiction and infectious disease research, through conference fellowships at The ASAM Annual Conference.

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    If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction,
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    Substance Abuse And Mental Health Services Administration

    Confidential free help, from public health agencies, to find substance use treatment and information. 1-800-662-4357


    Browse addiction resources from treatment finders to recovery groups to grief support.

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    American Society of Addiction Medicine

    ASAM is dedicated to increasing access and improving the quality of addiction treatment, educating physicians and the public, supporting research and prevention, and promoting the appropriate role of physicians in the care of patients with addiction. Students can join for free. ASAM Free Resources

    National Institute on Drug Abuse

    The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) supports and conducts research across a broad range of disciplines and leads the nation in scientific research on the health aspects of drug abuse and addiction.

    National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Website

    The mission of the NIAAA is to generate and disseminate fundamental knowledge about the effects of alcohol on health and well-being, and apply that knowledge to improve diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of alcohol-related problems, including alcohol use disorder, across the lifespan.

    Health Management Associates Institute on Addiction

    Is home to some of the industry’s foremost addiction experts with over 200 years of collective experience in all aspects of addiction treatment. Within the HMA IOA, you have access to the technical assistance, education, and strategy development your organization needs to deliver effective addiction treatment.

    Their specialized suite of financial products give medical students, residents, and practicing physicians greater freedom to forge their futures. By reducing financial barriers and burdens, we ensure that all doctors have increased capacity to serve their patients and the population at large.

    Panacea Financial, a Division of Primis. Member FDIC.

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