Family Medicine Is Poised to Lead on Addiction Care

Cedric Fernando MD

September 15, 2022

Family Medicine Is Poised to Lead on Addiction Care

Family physicians are in a unique position to help the recovery of patients suffering from addiction. They often are the first providers to seek treatment for loved ones who cannot manage their substance abuse. Alcoholism affects entire families and can cause liver damage when a patient reaches their 40s.

Outpatient treatment

The field of family medicine is well-positioned to lead in addiction care. This area of medicine strives to treat the whole patient and often is the first line of defense for patients with mental and behavioral health problems. As a result, many family physicians are also the first to recognize addiction and its co-occurring conditions.

There are many ways to improve medical care for addicts. One method is to increase the number of addiction specialists in the medical community. This would increase the availability of medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorders. In addition, physicians need to be better-trained and supported to provide quality care.

Brief Interventions

Family physicians are uniquely positioned to fill a gap in the addiction care system, particularly in the outpatient setting. Their expertise in addiction treatment, along with their biopsychosocial approach, can help people who are struggling with addiction. However, addiction is a growing health care crisis, and a significant amount of research is needed to determine which treatment methods are effective.

Family physicians can offer patients various treatments, from simple counseling to more intensive outpatient care. These non-pharmacological treatments are often called “talk therapies” and aim to change addictive behaviors. They also teach patients skills to prevent relapse. In addition, they can connect patients with resources in the community. The programs can also involve family members and significant others.

Residency programs

In the United States, the majority of family medicine residency programs include an addiction medicine curriculum in their curriculum. This program is designed to help residents learn about substance abuse and mental health disorders through didactic and interactive learning experiences. It is also designed to link the curriculum to core family medicine competencies. The eight-module curriculum is designed to be integrated into a typical three-year family medicine residency program.

The curriculum for this program includes an inpatient and outpatient rotation. Residents also have the option to complete a third clinic experience. These experiences often include research, community health, or quality improvement activities. In addition, many residents pursue an experience related to their particular interests. Others choose to prepare for the challenges of working in underserved communities or specific primary care settings. Finally, some residents choose to take courses in medical humanities or social justice.

Consultations with addiction professionals

If you suspect a loved one is struggling with addiction, it may be helpful to consult an addiction specialist. These professionals can help you understand the different options for treatment. Addiction treatment options include outpatient therapy, short-term residential rehab, and family-based treatment. The type of treatment you receive will depend on your unique needs and situation.

The AMCS at St. Paul’s Hospital has seen steady growth since its inception in 2014. These physicians have worked with addiction patients to provide evidence-based care and improved access to addiction treatment. The program has had some challenges but has learned essential lessons and expanded. The program has also seen an increase in consultation requests for treatment. However, the growth of the service has been met with some resistance from staff members.

Learning collaboratives

Family medicine is a well-positioned specialty to fill a growing need in addiction treatment, particularly in the outpatient setting. Family physicians can destigmatize the disease and provide a biopsychosocial approach. In addition, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education has recognized addiction treatment as a core competency.

The collaborative model supports team-based care, allowing for greater access to care and reimbursement through medical insurance. Students will develop leadership, collaboration, and critical thinking skills, as well as demonstrate competence and competency in their field. In addition, they will gain experience in teaching and learning from peers. They will also experience the joy of leading a group addressing complex issues such as addiction and chronic pain.