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“All doctors should learn how to treat addiction.” We agree.

An opinion piece in the June 13, 2023, edition of The Washington Post makes the case that because of the growing overdose crisis in the United States, all doctors need to know how to treat addiction. As addiction treatment specialists, we at Valley Medical and Wellness agree.

The article, written by Patrice A. Harris, Josiah D. Rich, and Joshua M. Sharfstein, begins as follows:

“Given the size of the U.S. overdose crisis—the number of annual deaths topped 100,000 again in 2022—it is astonishing how few Americans who need medical addiction treatment receive it. Buprenorphine and methadone, highly effective drugs for opioid use disorder, are provided to fewer than 1 in 6 people who would benefit from them. A major reason for this failure is that not enough doctors have been trained in their use.”

The article continues:

“Surprising as it might seem, most U.S. medical schools and residency programs do not provide a full set of training for treating addiction. This needs to change.”

At Valley Medical and Wellness, we agree with this assessment. The number of patients we treat for substance abuse is large and continues to grow, a sign of the overall crisis facing our community. We also know that Valley Medical is unique in its focus on addiction treatment (and its relation to chronic pain) and that many clinics and providers in our community send their substance abuse patients to us because they are not fully trained or focused to provide the proper treatment.

As noted in the article, buprenorphine and methadone are both effective for treating opioid use disorder, one of the most significant factors behind the current crisis. At Valley Medical we focus on buprenorphine treatment, as it produces far fewer and less aggressive side effects than methadone and similar medicines.

Valley Medical is also confronting this crisis by providing ongoing education to medical students and other young professionals entering the healthcare industry. We take pride in providing real-world addiction medicine experience to individuals ready to enter medical school. We also sponsor an ongoing fellowship program for University of Minnesota medical students, hosting one fellow a month at our clinics.

Our goals are to help sufferers of addiction get their lives back and to better educate up-and-coming medical professionals in the field of addiction medicine. We agree with the conclusion reached by the article’s authors:

“Opioid use disorder is treatable, and medicines are readily available. But doctors cannot learn to help patients by taking a weekend course alone. The training needs to be part of their foundational education. All physicians should emerge from medical school and residency able to give this lifesaving care.”

Michael Miller Michael Miller Michael Miller is a Business Process Writer at Valley Medical and Wellness. He's an established writer with more than 200 books and thousands of articles published over the past three decades. He writes on a variety of topics, from healthcare to technology to music. He is also a member of the Interstellar Foundation, dedicated to telling the story of humankind via NASA spacecraft traveling beyond the solar system.

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