Addiction Content in all Health Courses

Through purposeful inclusion of addiction content in all health courses, the Addiction Training for Health Professionals (ATHP) program through the learning platform is enabling physicians, nurses, and other healthcare providers to competently and compassionately respond to substance use disorders. According to a 2015 study from the US Department of Health and Human Services, 10 percent of the US adult population suffers from substance abuse disorders at some point in their lives, yet only one in four seek treatment (2015). The US Surgeon General’s Report: Facing Addiction in America, called for substance misuse and substance use disorder treatment to be integrated into mainstream medical practice and the associated training of health professionals. 


ATHP Researcher, Dr. Erica Frank and colleagues  (2009) demonstrated that exposing health professionals to information about addictive disorders reduces the stigmatization of patients with substance use disorders, and increases clinicians’ competency, perceived relevance, and likelihood to provide addiction medicine treatment.

By integrating or threading substance use, misuse, and abuse disorder content and concepts into health courses, we are helping physicians and their teams understand how to assess, prevent, treat, and refer patients for further care. Our primary goal is to address the broad spectrum of training in addiction medicine with a focus on the implications for and the impact of substance misuse and substance abuse disorders on individuals, families, and communities.


Unlike traditional curriculum development models, which tend to overemphasize the discrete subjects in a way that leads to fragmentation and disconnection, the threaded approach provides students with continuous exposure to the many facets of substance use disorders. This repeated exposure improves overall understanding, decision-making, and value formation that impacts their practice regardless of setting.

The implementation of curriculum threading forms part of the meta-curriculum, providing critical linkages between foundational knowledge and the learning disposition needed to build awareness of the prevalence of substance use disorders in health services environments.

At ATHP, we act on data showing that curricular threading facilitates the teaching-learning transaction and aids in the acquisition, application, and retention of fundamental concepts related to substance use disorders.


Fogarty, R (1991). Ten ways to integrate curriculum. Educational Leadership 1991, pp 61-65.


Fogarty, R. and Pete, B.M. (2009). How to integrate the curricula. 3rd ed. Thousand Oaks CA: Corwin. 


Frank, E., Elon, L., Spencer, E. (2009) Personal and clinical tobacco-related practices and attitudes of U.S. medical students. Preventive Medicine. Retrieved from   2 September 2021


 NextGen.Org (2021). Physician Training and Addiction Education Initiative. Retrieved from 7 September 2021


Northwestern University. (2021). Curricular Threads. Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University. Retrieved from:  5 September 2021


University of Wisconsin-Madison. (n.d.) Curriculum threads. School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Retrieved from  8 September 2021


US Department of Health and Human Services. (2015). 10 percent of US adults have drug use disorder at some point in their lives. 


US Department of Health and Human Services. (2016). Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs and Health. Retrieved from 6 September 2021


Yale School of Medicine. (2021). Yale Makes Major Commitment to Medical Education in Health Equity, April 01 2021. Retrieved from:  9 September 2021

Melissa Dassrath

Melissa Dassrath


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