ASAM Honors Dr. Mark S. Gold With Addiction Treatment Trailblazer Award

By John Lavitt 05/20/15

The renowned addiction specialist was honored with the John P. McGovern Award.

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On April 25, the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) honored Dr. Mark S. Gold with its John P. McGovern Award at its 46th ASAM Annual Conference.

The John P. McGovern Award recognizes an individual who has made highly meritorious contributions to public policy, treatment, research, or prevention. The focus of the award is how the work has increased the medical profession’s understanding of the intricate relationship between addiction and society.

Dr. Gold was given the award at the Awards Luncheon in Austin, Texas by ASAM President Dr. Stuart Gitlow. After accepting the commendation, Dr. Gold delivered the 2015 lecture on addiction and society. entitled “From State Dependency to Clonidine to Dopamine to Secondhand Smoke to Food Addiction: My Career In Translational Research From 1972.” The lecture covered the achievements of his distinguished career.

In his work as a translational researcher and beyond, Dr. Gold is best known for his pioneering investigations into the brain systems underlying the effects of opiate drugs, cocaine, and food addiction. He was the first editor of Addiction Medicine, and also has been the author of a diverse mix of practice guidelines, ASAM papers, books, and texts for clinicians. Dr. Gold is currently an adjunct professor of psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis and one of the principals at RiverMend Health as the chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board.

In an exclusive talk with The Fix, Dr. Gold described his current projects in greater detail:

“After working since the early 1970s to develop a greater understanding of drug effects on the brain and behavior and how to intervene—really interfere with drug access to brain reinforcement areas—my current work is focused on three main areas: smoking versus psychoactive administration (what is the difference between cigarette smoking and nicotine dependence or cannabis smoking and THC); how does a cucumber become a pickle and what can be done to reverse this process (in the switch process are the changes irreversible and permanent); and lastly, what drug use causes brain cells to be damaged or undermined and who needs treatment more like the treatment we give to those with traumatic brain injury or concussion."

In honoring Dr. Gold, ASAM is recognizing the diversity of his research. Dr. Scott A. Teitelbaum, chief of the Division of Addiction Medicine at the University of Florida College of Medicine, marked the significance of the occasion.

“Dr. Mark Gold has been one of the voices and leaders in addiction medicine for the past 30 years," Teitelbaum said. "Not only has he made contributions front bench to bedside, but in addition he has mentored numerous physicians and has been involved in the training of countless addiction medicine experts and has touched their lives in so many positive ways. His contributions in research, treatment and education continue to the touch the lives so many people afflicted with addictive disorders. He is a true champion in the field of addiction medicine.”

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Growing up in Manhattan as a stutterer, John Lavitt discovered that writing was the best way to express himself when the words would not come. After graduating with honors from Brown University, he lived on the Greek island of Patmos, studying with his mentor, the late American poet Robert Lax. As a writer, John’s published work includes three articles in Chicken Soup For The Soul volumes and poems in multiple poetry journals and compilations. Active in recovery, John has been the Treatment Professional News Editor for The Fix. Since 2015, he has published over 500 articles on the addiction and recovery news website. Today, he lives in Los Angeles, trying his best to be happy and creative. Find John on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.