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Policy Alert

Expert Panel: 5 Ways to Improve Resident Substance Abuse Training

Although substance use disorders can be reliably detected and effectively managed by primary care physicians, evidence-based practices are underused, in part, due to lack of physician training.

To address this problem, the Betty Ford Institute sponsored a consensus conference of medical education and substance abuse experts to develop guidelines aimed at improving substance abuse training in residency programs.

The panel made the following 5 recommendations:

  • Integrate substance abuse competencies into training.
  • Assign substance abuse teaching the same priority as teaching about other chronic diseases.
  • Enhance faculty development (i.e., require faculty expertise in substance use disorders and addiction medicine).
  • Create addiction medicine divisions or programs in academic medical centers.
  • Make substance abuse screening and management a part of routine care in new models of primary care practice.

Details of these recommendations as well as suggestions for implementation appeared in the Jan. 4 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine.


National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and AlcoholismNational Institute on Drug Abuse Boston Medical Center Boston University Medical Campus