Few physicians know how to recognize addiction or address it, even though they may see addicted patients on a regular basis and even treat the conditions their addictions cause. A recent Columbia University report found that most doctors do not know how to diagnose substance abuse or treat it. Of the 22 million Americans with a substance abuse problem, only 10 percent received treatment.
According to the Washington Post, a new program aims to address this deficit by offering residencies in addiction medicine to doctors who have finished other specialized training. The program, sponsored by the American Board of Addiction Medicine, aims to elevate addiction medicine as an officially recognized sub-specialty. This training coincides with the increased recognition that addiction is a disease and should be treated like one. Richard Blondell, a professor of family medicine at the State University of New York at Buffalo, told Washington Post that doctors are now aiming to “fix the underlying biological problem” of addiction rather than “trying to fix the underlying psychological problem.”