White House Symposium Focuses On Advancing Addiction Medicine

By John Lavitt 10/02/15

A historic meeting between several government agencies was held to discuss approaches to addiction medicine.

Dr. Patrick O'Connor. Photo via

The White House held a landmark symposium at the end of September to mark the crucial developments in addiction medicine.

Called “Medicine Responds to Addiction,” the symposium was led by Michael Botticelli, the Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), and Dr. Patrick O’Connor, president of the American Board of Addiction Medicine (ABAM) Foundation. The goal was to address the epidemic of opioid addiction by highlighting advances in medical training and practice.

Introducing the event, Michael Botticelli said, “America must bring the power of medicine and public health to bear to reduce substance use and its consequences. Today’s symposium can help ensure that the next generation of physicians is well-equipped to bring an effective public health response to substance use disorders.”

The historic meeting brought together leaders from several federal agencies, including the National Institutes of Health, SAMHSA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The event also featured U.S. Surgeon General Vice Admiral Vivek H. Murthy. In addition, representatives from graduate medical training programs, medical boards, public and private health care systems, and foundations from across the country.

O’Connor, who is also the chair of general internal medicine at Yale School of Medicine, said, “There is now an extensive body of science concerning the epidemiology of addiction, the consequences of risky substance use and substance-use disorders, and the effective approaches to prevention and treatment.”

The participating medical leaders represented the boards of disciplines as wide ranging as internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, emergency medicine, preventive medicine, and pediatrics. A major focus of the symposium was to advance addiction medicine. The goal was to identify ways to accelerate training and certification of medical providers in addiction prevention and treatment.

“The time has now come to advance patient care by fully integrating this science into medical practice,” O’Connor said. “The establishment of addiction medicine as an ABMS-recognized medical discipline will result in transformative change in prevention, recognition, treatment, and recovery from addiction that will greatly improve the health of our nation.”

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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.