The Opioid Epidemic as a Watershed Moment for Physician Training in Addiction Medicine
Since at least 1784, when the American physician, civic leader, and iconoclast Benjamin Rush first published Inquiry into the Effects of Ardent Spirits on the Human Mind and Body, individuals inside and outside of medicine have advocated for the recognition of addiction as a disease meriting medical treatment. In medical schools and residencies, Rush’s plea fell largely on deaf ears. Medical schools have historically provided little in the way of training for the diagnosis and treatment of addiction. According to the 2012 National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse report, most medical schools offer only a few hours of addiction training over 4 years . The opioid epidemic, however, which now exceeds HIV/AIDS in its catastrophic effects, has rattled the medical establishment out of complacency, providing new opportunities to equip American physicians with the knowledge to respond to addiction as a legitimate and treatable medical disorder.
This paper reviews milestones in...
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