Addiction Medicine Conference

I usually blog about our North Carolina Addiction Medicine conferences after they take place, but today I wanted to do a little advance advertising, in case any addiction medicine professionals haven’t heard about the conference.

Our fall conference is this week, October 22 and 23, 2021, and you can read more about it here: conference has some great speakers line up. On the first day we’re scheduled to hear updates on COVID 19, on state overdose data, and on both state and federal policies. Then Dr. Keith Humphreys, renowned author, will speak about the implications of the changing cannabis policies in the U.S. I’m particularly looking forward to hearing him because I’ve read his chapters in the ASAM Textbook of Addiction Medicine, among other things. He is a prolific writer in the field, with thoughtful insights.

Later in the day we have an assortment of workshops to chose from with everything from Addiction Medicine 101, for the basics, to harm reduction strategies. Then later in the afternoon Dr. Ed Salsitz is scheduled to talk about the fentanyl crisis.

Dr. Salsitz is a big part of why I decided to work in the field of opioid use disorder treatment. I first heard him speak at an ASAM conference just after I started working at an opioid treatment program for the first time. I was deeply conflicted about my work, coming from an abstinence-only, 12-step based background. Several people in my recovery meetings strongly criticized me because of my work. When I listened to Dr. Salsitz describe the evidence supporting the use of medication to treat opioid use disorder, I saw reason to feel good about working in this field. I appreciated his lectures against the stigma attached to both the disease and the treatment of opioid use disorder. I eventually decided it mattered more to me what the science showed than what people, with no real medical information, thought about me and my work. Thank you, Dr. Salsitz.

Then the second day, we have plenaries from several outstanding physicians: Dr. Ashwin Patkar will speak about abstinence versus moderation, and Dr. Steven Prakken will talk about psychiatric comorbidity in substance use disorders. Later, we will hear about reasonable screening for co-occurring physical comorbidity from Dr. Shuchin Shukla.

Then we have more workshops to pick from. I’m always conflicted about which one to attend, but I’m hoping since this is a virtual event, the sessions will be recorded so that I can listen later to all of them.

After that, one of the afternoon plenary sessions is about contingency management in the treatment of stimulant use disorder, presented by Dr. Dominick DePhilippis. I’m eager to hear this talk, because as I indicated in a recent blog, we have had many patients in treatment for their opioid use disorder who also have stimulant use disorder. I need some ideas to implement for treatment, and I know contingency management is one of the most heavily evidence-based treatments for this.

Then at the end of the day is a crowd favorite: “What’s New and Trending,” presented by Dr. Thomas Penders. He will talk about kratom, CBD, delta 8 and other things.

At each conference, we have special closed sessions for North Carolina medical providers who work at opioid treatment programs. This year, I was excited to see one of our topics was, “Advocating for patient care within an OTP corporate structure.”

This is great, I thought. Finally, maybe someone can tell me how to do this. I’ve struggled with the problem the twenty years I’ve worked at opioid treatment programs.

Then I was asked to be on the speaking panel for this topic. I felt a little panicky because what do I know? But as I’ve been contemplating the topic, I do have some experience to share, though sometimes it is what not to do.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

It’s not too late to register for this virtual conference, and you can get credit hours too.

Here’s the link again if you are interested: There’s a physician and a non-physician link at that site.

3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Ryan Anthony Zondervan on October 18, 2021 at 6:38 pm

    I’d love to hear more about your background (maybe you’ve shared already in other posts?), particularly the pushback and finger-wagging you’ve experience re: MAT for addiction/recovery. A little over 5 years ago I landed in the hospital with a MRSA infection and left addicted to Oxycodone. I thought a treatment program that (supposedly) aligned with my faith/values would be a good choice and landed in a facility (which will remain unnamed) that was vehemently anti-medication of any kind. Ironically the pre-cursor to the actual treatment program was (in my case anyway) 8 days of detox at a faciilty that used primarily buprenorphine. According to my wife they started me at 24mg/day and tapered me down to zero in less than a week. Absolute disaster ensued and I don’t think I’ve ever stopped being thankful for the fact that I’m still here AND functional to boot – employed/husband/father/etc. While there are many factors that have helped lead to where I’m at today, I can say with certainty MAT and buprenorphine specifically have changed my life. Thank you for doing what you do, advocating for people like me, and fighting the good fight!


    • Thanks for writing, Anthony. I’m sorry you had to go through that.
      The pushback and stigma is from a lack of education. Usually medical providers come to accept MAT once they understand the evidence that supports it. Of course, I’m biased enough to think all treatment facilities should have medical directors who are well-educated about opioid use disorder treatment with medications, but too often if they have a medical director, it’s in name only, or it’s a physician in recovery who thinks 12-step should work for everyone. And it does work for many people, but opioid use disorder often needs medication too.
      Recently, programs accepting government money (Medicaid and MEdicare) risk losing their funding unless they offer medication for opioid use disorder. This doesn’t mean making people take medication, but at least informing patients that medications exist and that it improves the patients’ chances for not dying


  2. Posted by Sparky on October 20, 2021 at 4:09 pm

    Very good


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