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01-03-2012 03:49 PM CET | Health & Medicine

Press release from: Tartaglia Communications

/ PR Agency: Tartaglia Communications
Contact: Dennis Tartaglia
(732) 545-1848

For Immediate Release


Chevy Chase, Maryland – January 2, 2012 – The American Board of Addiction Medicine (ABAM) and The ABAM Foundation today installed newly elected Directors and Officers. All are distinguished physicians and from a range of medical specialties. These volunteer Directors lead ABAM in the formal certification of physicians as experts in addiction medicine, establish and accredit physician post-graduate addiction medicine training programs, and thus advance the quality of medical care for substance use disorders related to alcohol, tobacco and other addicting drugs, including some prescription medications.

ABAM is an independent medical specialty board established in 2007 to certify addiction medicine physicians from several specialties, including emergency medicine, family medicine, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, preventive medicine, psychiatry and other specialties. Prior to ABAM’s formation, only one medical specialty (psychiatry) offered sub-specialized training and certification in addiction.

Trained addiction medicine physicians have now joined other addiction professionals in the interdisciplinary care of patients with addictive disorders. Physician specialists in addiction medicine bring unique skills and competencies to the treatment team, contributing to the care of individuals and families with a multitude of needs, using all appropriate treatment modalities.

“Addiction medicine is a unique field, encompassing elements of a range of medical specialties that come into contact with patients with addictive disorders,” said ABAM and ABAM Foundation President Jeffrey H. Samet, M.D., M.A., M.P.H. “We want addiction prevention, screening, intervention and treatment to become routine aspects of medical care wherever health care is provided. ABAM-certified physicians will also be able to address common medical or psychiatric conditions related to the use of addictive substances.”

Although one in five Americans entering the health care system has a substance abuse problem, there has never been a board certified medical specialty, drawn from all areas of medicine, dedicated to treating addiction. “Physicians are often at a loss for what to do about substance use and addiction issues, and may even misdiagnose the problem,” said Dr. Samet. “We hope to change this by expanding the cadre of board certified addiction medicine physicians across medical specialties.”

Studies show that fewer than one in five physicians consider themselves adequately prepared to diagnose alcoholism or other drug use disorders. Yet physician training in addiction medicine is sorely lacking. Separate courses in addiction medicine are rarely taught in medical school, and there are no addiction medicine residencies among the 9,026 Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) accredited residency programs in the nation’s hospitals.

To ensure that ABAM-certified physicians maintain life-long competence, ABAM offers a rigorous certifying examination developed by an expert addiction medicine committee and the National Board of Medical Examiners, as well as a maintenance of certification program. Nearly 2,600 physicians have been certified. Physicians from any specialty who are certified by a member board of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), or who have completed an ACGME-accredited residency in their primary field, may qualify to sit for the ABAM examination and become board certified in addiction medicine.

One of ABAM’s goals is to have a member board of the ABMS certify physicians in addiction medicine. Certification by an ABMS member board is considered the “gold standard” in physician credentialing. In a move to meet ABMS criteria, the ABAM Foundation has given its accreditation to 9 addiction medicine residency training programs affiliated with the nation’s top medical schools, and, when a sufficient number of residencies have been established, the Foundation will apply to ACGME to accredit these programs. At some time after ABMS recognition of addiction medicine, completion of an addiction medicine residency will be required by the ABMS member board which administers the certification process in addiction medicine.

A grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) to the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences will help establish a core of post-graduate addiction medicine education programs in academic medical centers throughout the United States.

In announcing the grant, NIAAA Acting Director Kenneth Warren, Ph.D. said, “We are very excited about this opportunity to help medical students and residents in a variety of specialties who are interested in addiction medicine apply advances in research to real-world practice. This critical investment in our nation’s health will ultimately improve patient care and reduce the medical, social, and financial burden of the addiction disorders.”

ABAM was launched at a time of increasing promise for addiction treatment and at a time of increased need for treatment providers. Recent scientific discoveries have confirmed that addiction is a chronic disease of the brain caused by biological and developmental factors, with unique vulnerabilities and pathology, and a predictable course if not interrupted by effective treatment. An increasing number of medically based addiction treatments have recently become available, and more are on the horizon. The need for addiction medicine physicians will increase, as 30 million formerly uninsured Americans will have health insurance under the health care reform Affordable Care Act signed into law in 2010.

“Years of scientific research have proven drug addiction is a brain disease caused by biological, environmental and developmental factors—a disease which can have far reaching medical consequences. Given the proper training, tools, and resources, physicians can be the first line of defense against substance abuse and addiction--identifying drug use early, preventing its escalation to abuse and addiction, and referring patients in need to treatment,” said Nora D. Volkow, MD, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

For more information on ABAM, the ABAM 2012 Certification Examination, and the ABAM Foundation accredited residency training programs, please visit

Officers and Directors
The American Board of Addiction Medicine
The ABAM Foundation


Jeffrey H. Samet, M.D., M.A., M.P.H.
Diplomate, American Board of Internal
Professor of Medicine and Social and Behavioral Sciences
Chief, General Internal Medicine Section
Boston University School of Medicine

Patrick G. O’Connor, M.D., M.P.H., FACP
Diplomate, American Board of Internal
Professor of Medicine and
Chief, Section of General Internal Medicine
Yale University School of Medicine

Kevin B. Kunz, M.D., M.P.H., FASAM
Immediate Past President
Diplomate, American Board of Preventive
Clinical Instructor, Department of Psychiatry
University of Hawaii School of Medicine
Kona Addiction Services

Lon R. Hays, M.D., M.B.A., DFAPA
Diplomate, American Board of Psychiatry
and Neurology
Chair and Professor
Department of Psychiatry
University of Kentucky College of Medicine

Robert J. Sokol, M.D., FACOG.
Diplomate, American Board of Obstetrics
and Gynecology
The John M. Malone, Jr, MD, Endowed Chair & Director, C. S. Mott Center for Human Growth and Development
Distinguished Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Wayne State University School of Medicine


Hoover Adger, Jr., M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A.
Diplomate, American Board of Pediatrics
Professor of Pediatrics
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Louis E. Baxter, M.D., FASAM
Diplomate, American Board Addiction
Immediate Past-President
American Society of Addiction Medicine
Executive Medical Director
Professional Assistance Program of New Jersey
Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine
University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey

Richard D. Blondell, M.D.
Diplomate, American Board Family
Professor of Family Medicine
Department of Family Medicine
SUNY University at Buffalo

Kathleen T. Brady, M.D., Ph.D., DFAPA
Diplomate, American Board of Psychiatry
and Neurology
Professor, Department of Psychiatry and
Behavioral Sciences
Director, Division of Clinical Neuroscience
Director, General Clinical Research Center
Medical University of South Carolina

Gail D'Onofrio, M.D., M.S.
Diplomate, American Board of Emergency
Professor and Chair
Department of Emergency Medicine
Yale University School of Medicine
Yale-New Haven Hospital

Larry M. Gentilello, M.D., FACS
Diplomate, American Board of Surgery
Professor of Surgery
Department of Surgery
University of Texas
Southwestern Medical School

Michael M. Miller, M.D., FASAM, FAPA
Diplomate, American Board of Psychiatry
and Neurology
Associate Clinical Professor
University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health
Medical Director
Herrington Recovery Center
Rogers Memorial Hospital

Edward V. Nunes, M.D.
Diplomate, American Board of Psychiatry
and Neurology
Professor of Clinical Psychiatry
Department of Psychiatry
Columbia University College of
Physicians and Surgeons

Jeffery N. Wilkins, MD
Diplomate, American Board of Psychiatry
and Neurology
Vice Chair, Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health
Lincy/Heyward-Moynihan Chair of Addiction Medicine
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
Professor of Psychiatry, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Martha J. Wunsch, M.D., FAAP, FASAM
Diplomate, American Board of Pediatrics
Medical Director
The TASL Clinic

Tartaglia Communications is a full-service public relations firm that specializes in developing strategic communications solutions for health, science and nonprofit organizations of all types and sizes. The firm provides personalized service, high-level strategic insight, and the results-oriented approach that clients in these sectors need to achieve their communications objectives in a cost-effective manner.

Dennis and Sheila Tartaglia
Tartaglia Communications
P.O. Box 5148
Somerset, NJ 08875-5148

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