Addiction Medicine Conference 2014

Written by on May 1, 2014 in Insight - No comments

Several hundred doctors converged at the Renaissance Hotel in beautiful Asheville, North Carolina for the 2014 Addiction Medicine Conference. The conference, organized by Sara McEwen, MD, and James Finch, MD, provided insightful workshops designed to strengthen fundamentals and lay the groundwork for the challenges that the future will bring for people with addiction issues. In addition to the educational side of the conference, physicians will be able to network with colleagues practicing all around the United States as well find new clinical materials.

AMconferenceWEBThe agenda of this 5th annual event started on March 21st with a registration at 7:00 in the morning and an overview of the weekend conference, including a breakfast sponsored by Millennium Laboratories. An hour later, the first speaker, Paul Martin, MD began his session entitled “Opening Plenary Session: A Year of Anticipated Changes” focusing on the new coding guidelines for DSM-5, ICD-10, and ASAM. The field of addiction is vastly shifting with new research and protocols available for diagnosing, treating and paying for substance use disorder services. The aforementioned resources help physicians stay aware of the changes to ensure the quality and access to addiction treatment. Dr. Martin is a family medicine doctor in Asheville. He received his medical degree for University of Arizona College of Medicine. He is a fellow of the American Society of Addiction Medicine and has been in practice for 38 years.

Some of major topics of the seminars had to do with changes such as the implementation of the ACA and the recently updated Guidelines for Using Opioids for Chronic Pain according to the co-directors of the conference, the emergence of the ACA as well as other developments will “significantly alter access to care, coding, and clinical guidelines.” These modifications were delineated for those participating in the seminars as well as insight into new drugs found on the streets and some innovative pharmacotherapies that are being worked on. Adam Zolotor, MD, was the speaker that discussed the impact of the ACA for North Carolina regarding substance abuse and mental health disorders. One of the largest expansions of coverage in a generation, the ACA will require insurance plans to cover these services, on line with general care services. Previously, one third of those currently covered were not for substance abuse, one fifth for mental health. Dr. Zolotor is the Vice President of the NC Institute of Medicine and an associate professor of family medicine at the University of North Carolina where he received his doctorate degree.

Dr. Finch, who is the Director of Physician Education at the Governor’s Institute and President of the NC Society of Addiction Medicine, followed this seminar with his speech on Chronic Pain and Opiods: Project Lazarus Part 1. He discussed how a doctor should choose patients who are suitable candidates for this type of management as well as assessing the risk factors before prescribing opiods. Stressing the necessity of drug screening, Dr. Finch delineated a correct code of conduct for therapy and safety issues. Dr. Finch was the recipient of the 2013 Frederick B. Glaser Award. The Glaser award is given to someone who has shown important contributions to the field of alcohol or other substance abuse. Dr. Finch did his fellowship at Duke University’s Division of Family Practice.

The conference also had seminars for medical professionals other than doctors. Physician Assistants, Nurse Practitioners and Practice Managers were able to attend a workshop that elaborated on more administrative and clinical work. The discussion concerned: Initial Patient Assessment, Engagement and Induction Monitoring, Physician to Physician Care Coordination, Drug-Drug Interactions, Updating Clinical Policy & Responses to Prescribed and Illicit Benzodiazepine Use in OTPs, and the Treatment of Pregnant and Post-Partum Women according to the literature. This type of knowledge is crucial for appropriate care given by the support staff at the clinics.

One of the largest sponsors of the event is the Governor’s Institute on Substance Abuse. is a website that connects healthcare providers with up to date information and educational resources. Articles on the latest drugs and their affect on users are some of the topics discussed on their website. For instance Zohydro, a pure form of the painkiller hydrocondone, had been banned in Massachusetts, but a recent injunction lifted the ban. Another article describes a study on headaches, recommending that narcotics not be used as a first line of treatment.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration was also a big presence and supporter of at the conference. SAMHSA is a leader of public health efforts to decrease the consequences of both substance abuse and mental illnesses in America through prevention, treatment and recovery programs. The site has contact information for these diseases, such as suicide prevention, substance abuse treatment facilities and mental health services. SAMHSA contains articles pertaining to health reform, the Affordable Care Act, and the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act.

The Addiction Medicine 2014 conference was a big success. The organizers did a great job coordinating the speakers, and the speakers chose engaging and current topics to discuss. The sponsors were also knowledgeable giving insight into such services as billing and coding. Please visit for more information.

By Ashley AustinManaging Editor, Med Monthly

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