Report: Many Doctors Ill-Equipped to Deal with Opioid Epidemic

N.Y. Times says few medical schools teaching addiction

Fictional case studies have shown a new aspect in the fight against opioid addiction—the battle of determining true medical need for pain-killing medications vs. a physical dependence upon the substance. In other words, can doctors win over patients who fear being judged?

While addiction contributes to more than 600,000 deaths in the United States each year, comprehensive addiction training is quite rare in American medical training. A report by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University called out “the failure of the medical profession at every level—in medical school, residency training, continuing education and in practice” to adequately address addiction.

Dr. Timothy Brennan, who directs an addiction medicine fellowship at Mount Sinai Health System, said that combating the crisis under these circumstances is “like trying to fight World War II with only the Coast Guard.”

Just now, a years-long initiative led by doctors and medical students is yielding some results, as a handful of students are beginning studies in the field of addiction medicine. About a dozen addiction medicine fellowships have received gold-standard board certification status from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.

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