About 10% of American adults report having experienced a substance use disorder. Yet, only one-quarter have received any form of treatment,1 and the availability of treatment may be even more compromised in under-resourced settings.
The US Surgeon General’s Report, Facing Addiction in America, calls for better-integrating2 substance misuse and substance use disorder treatment into mainstream practice and for correspondingly increased training for physicians and all other members of the healthcare team, including undergraduates, graduates, postgraduates, and professionals.3 The Report urges nonprofit organizations and others to mobilize a robust public health response to substance use disorders, including integration of education related to substance misuse and substance abuse disorders into all health workers’ practices.4 It also encourages public health models for addressing addiction and its causes while indicating an increased need for healthcare providers to understand the basics of public health.5 Finally, the Report calls for foci on evidence-based addiction treatment and on preventing substance misuse and substance use disorders.6
In response, the Addiction Training for Health Professionals (ATHP) leveraged other programs at the Frank Foundation to develop and test a number of projects to bolster addiction and public health education for physicians and their teams.
- ATHP co-sponsored the development of public health courses that are now available globally and for free.
- ATHP provides these courses as a path to specialization in addiction medicine. The public health courses form the didactic portion of the Preventive Medicine Residency, removing cost barriers for preventive medicine programs to offer these courses so that residents may pursue board certification and then acquire eligibility for sub-specialization in addiction medicine.
- ATHP co-developed a Public Health Concentration in Substance Use and Mental Health.
- ATHP co-sponsors a very low-cost public health program with enrollees from 50 countries that offers the Substance Use and Mental Health Concentration Courses for free.
ATHP works with institutional partners to develop new public health programs that emphasize substance use disorders. Four new MPH programs have been developed with institutional partners. These include the University of the Incarnate Word School of Medicine, Texas; Foundation for Professional Development School of Public Health, South Africa; New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine, New York; and the Baptist Institute of Health Sciences, Cameroon. A large portion of the students enrolled in these programs are physicians – medical students, residents, or practicing physicians.