Physician efforts to end the epidemic

Physicians demonstrate leadership everyday to help their patients with a substance use disorder and pain. Learn more.

2021 AMA Overdose Epidemic Report

AMA calls on policymakers and others to remove barriers to evidence-based care for patients with pain and those with a substance use disorder.

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How raising her hand is strengthening our country’s addiction medicine workforce

July 27, 2021

‘You can’t train medical students in addiction if you don’t have trained faculty’ Board-certified Addiction Medicine Physician Cara Poland, MD, MEd, FACP, DFASAM wanted the State of Michigan to train a future generation of physicians to treat substance use disorders, but first, she realized that Michigan’s medical schools needed core faculty. Like nearly every state […]

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Broad harm reduction efforts needed to save lives from overdose

June 1, 2021

Broad harm reduction efforts needed to save lives from overdose Nearly 88,000 Americans died from a drug-related overdose from September 2019 through September 2020, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Illicitly manufactured fentanyl and fentanyl analogs were involved in more than 52,000 of those deaths. That represents a more than […]

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When arbitrary policies and patient care collide

May 26, 2021

The news came through when Dr. Aaron Newcomb was on vacation.  A few patients called the office to say that the local pharmacy denied prescriptions for pain, anxiety and opioid use disorder (OUD).  One was a long-term female patient covered by Medicare who Dr. Newcomb had been treating for a few years for chronic pain […]

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How one Nebraska addiction psychiatrist tirelessly advocates for her patients

May 19, 2021

When Alena Balasanova, MD, started the addiction psychiatry consultation-liaison service at the University of Nebraska Medical Center with a colleague two years ago, even she didn’t realize how much it would become part of the culture of her hospital. From developing protocols and processes for patients with substance use disorders getting surgery to routine consults […]

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Action needed to help justice-involved individuals who have a substance use disorder

May 4, 2021

There is no legal, medical or policy reason to deny access to medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD) for justice-involved persons, according to leading medical, legal and health policy experts speaking on recent webinar from the AMA and Manatt Health. The webinar is part of a year-long series to showcase specific policy recommendations in action […]

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Removing stigma: How advocacy, education and research enhances access to evidence-based care

March 3, 2021

To make an impact in patients’ lives, you have to lend your voice to advocacy efforts, said Linda Wang, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, who says that her work in social justice plays a critical role as a medical educator and physician who treats patients with […]

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Emphasizing medical student and physician mental health in the curricula

February 1, 2021

If there’s one takeaway pearl that Ruchi Fitzgerald, MD, hopes her students and residents will receive during their rotations, it is that treatment saves lives for those with a substance use disorder (SUD), depression, anxiety or other stigma-laden condition – including within the medical profession. “Paradoxically, the general public probably has an easier time accepting […]

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Texas FQHC develops integrative model to help patients with pain

January 29, 2021

It started with stabbing back pain, and then Fred Blackman’s legs gave way as he was showering before work. He was rushed to the hospital, and after nine months and multiple surgeries, Blackman left the hospital depressed, and needing help learning how to walk again and to quit slurring his words. To make things more […]

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AMA-Manatt Health 2020 National Policy Roadmap to End the Nation’s Drug Overdose Epidemic

December 16, 2020

This report provides leading-edge examples and best practices from more than 25 states. Policymakers and others can use these and the report’s tangible recommendations to take meaningful action to help patients access evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders, comprehensive pain care, and proven harm reduction strategies.

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Public-private partnership seeks to build SUD treatment network throughout Georgia

December 11, 2020

If people can’t access treatment for a substance use disorder close to where they live, they might not get any treatment, said Justine Welsh, MD, a child and adolescent and addiction psychiatrist and Director of the Emory Healthcare Addiction Services. Having evidence-based care for substance use disorders throughout Georgia is just one goal of a […]

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Collaborative care model normalizes mental health and addiction treatment in primary care

December 2, 2020

Patients are more comfortable talking to primary care physicians about their mental health in general and especially when we have resources available to support their mental health needs, said Matthew Press, MD, and Cecilia Livesey, MD – two of the architects of Penn Integrated Care at Penn Medicine, a program based on a validated model […]

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Telehealth increases access to care for the most vulnerable patient populations- regardless of location

August 13, 2020

District of Columbia physician Edwin Chapman, MD, understands that “innovation” is not a buzz word only conjuring up advancements such as stem cell research or cancer-curing treatments, but they also include using telephones and video to help vulnerable patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. In recent months the use and coverage of telehealth, once thought of […]

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AMA Opioid Task Force Chair Patrice Harris, MD, MA, discusses current state of the overdose epidemic

August 3, 2020

The newly released AMA Opioid Task Force report shows a dramatic increase in fatalities involving illicit opioids, stimulants (e.g., methamphetamine), heroin and cocaine and a similarly dramatic drop in the use of prescription opioids. Illicit drugs are now the dominant reason why drug overdoses kill more than 70,000 people each year, according to the U.S. […]

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AMA Opioid Task Force 2020 Progress Report

July 20, 2020

Sharp reductions in prescription opioid supply, continued increases in PDMP use, but staggering increase in fatalities involving illicit opioids, methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine were demonstrated in 2019.

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Providing individualized pain care during COVID in West Virginia

June 26, 2020

West Virginia has suffered greatly as a result of the nation’s opioid-related overdose and death epidemic, but one West Virginia pain management clinic is embracing a “whole person” approach to help ensure patients receive optimal, individualized care. While pain care is often fragmented for the patient due to numerous barriers and inconsistent care protocols, we […]

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AMA President joined by addiction medicine and pain medicine physicians to discuss how nation’s opioid epidemic has been exacerbated by COVID-19 pandemic

June 15, 2020

AMA President Patrice A. Harris, MD, was joined by Elizabeth Salisbury-Afshar, MD, and Steven Stanos, MD, May 29 in an AMA COVID-19 UPDATE podcast to discuss how COVID-19 has impacted the nation’s opioid epidemic. Dr. Salisbury-Afshar is the Director at the Center for Addiction Research and Effective Solutions at the American Institutes for Research in Chicago. […]

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AMA Opioid Task Force 2019 Progress Report

June 12, 2020

The 2019 progress report highlights physician action and the immediate need for policymakers to focus on removing barriers to evidence-based treatment.

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AMA-Manatt National Roadmap on State-Level Efforts to End the Opioid Epidemic

June 12, 2020

Leading-edge Practices and Next Steps.

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Advocating for forgotten populations during COVID-19

May 4, 2020

Homelessness, incarceration and opioid use disorder present unique challenges for the nation during the COVID-19 pandemic, write three public health physicians in the April 21, 2020 American Journal of Preventive Medicine. As policymakers continue to work, “[p]lanning should incorporate dedicated efforts, funding, and policies/guidelines specific to individuals who experience homelessness, are incarcerated, or are coping […]

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New study finds parents need to remember to take medication storage precautions

April 30, 2020

April 30, 2020 The American Medical Association (AMA) is urging parents and all those with medications in the home to remember the importance of safe storage and disposal during the COVID-19 pandemic. The reminder comes at a time in light of a new study from Vanderbilt University Medical Center finding that while 78 percent of […]

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Advocating for additional changes to help hospice, palliative care patients during COVID-19

April 28, 2020

For patients who are bed-ridden or in the final days of their life, it may be next to impossible for a hospice and palliative care physician to conduct an in-person evaluation to satisfy state and federal rules for prescribing controlled substances. While the authors of a new commentary in Health Affairs acknowledge that the U.S. […]

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Language matters: ASAM updates definition of “addiction”

April 22, 2020

Language always matters to addiction medicine physician Yngvild Olsen, MD, MPH. “Whether we are talking to our patients about medical concerns—or to policymakers about terminology—we must be clear, honest and accurate.” Dr. Olsen explained that the emphasis on using correct terminology is one of the prime reasons why the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) […]

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Emergency physician and LGBTQ advocate leading innovations to help end opioid epidemic

October 30, 2019

The way patients in the Transgender Surgery Center are cared for at Mount Sinai Beth Israel in New York City has led to some innovative revelations to help end the nation’s opioid epidemic. “Gender affirmation surgery is a significant and invasive surgery and the last thing we want is to treat the gender dysphoria but […]

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First-generation physician bridges gap between the ED and long-term SUD care

October 22, 2019

Aakash Shah, MD’s journey to become an emergency medicine physician started with a report card in a brown paper envelope. “My parents arrived in the United States with only $20 in their pockets and the name of a family friend they had never met,” said Dr. Shah. “They wanted me to have a better future, […]

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Saving time and lives by increased access to MAT in Pennsylvania

October 2, 2019

“There was no reason for the delay,” said Dr. Gallagher. “She simply wanted to get into a methadone clinic as quickly as possible for herself and her baby.” Once he and his staff finally got through to someone who could approve a prior-authorization request, it took only a few minutes, and Dr. Gallagher could then […]

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Fighting stigma and building a career treating substance use disorders

October 2, 2019

When Alena Balasanova, MD, began her psychiatry residency at Boston University, she encountered patients with SUD the way all too many people do—with judgment: “I wanted to treat patients with depression and anxiety—I didn’t sign up to treat people with a drug addiction, I held some very stigmatizing beliefs.” Over the course of her residency, […]

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One resident’s commitment to advocating for pregnant patients with opioid use disorder

September 16, 2019

Even though maternal and fetal medicine fellow Tani Malhotra, MD, knows that the stigma of substance use disorder runs deep, she knows that it’s her professional responsibility to not only have difficult conversations with her patients—but also to speak up for her patients to policymakers. “Many of my patients feel like their medical disease is […]

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Dr. Patrice Harris on 2019 AMA Opioid Task Force Progress Report

August 26, 2019

We are at a crossroads in our nation’s efforts to end the opioid epidemic. It is time to end delays and barriers to medication-assisted treatment (MAT)—evidence-based care proven to save lives; time for payers, PBMs and pharmacy chains to reevaluate and revise policies that restrict opioid therapy to patients based on arbitrary thresholds; and time to commit to […]

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Emergency department innovation increases access to care for patients with opioid use disorder

August 26, 2019

Access to treatment for opioid use disorder remains a challenge for most Americans, but there are programs in Chicago and Denver where pilot programs are showing success. Steven Aks, DO, in Chicago, and Jason Hoppe, DO, in Colorado are reaching past their traditional roles of emergency care to establish warm-handoff programs for patients with an […]

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After his son’s death, Massachusetts physician seeks to help others

June 5, 2019

When James Baker, MD’s, son Max died, the local headlines read: “Son of a doctor who couldn’t find help.” Max Baker had struggled with heroin addiction since he was 17—going in and out of treatment with periods of recovery. He and his family had struggled over the years to find the right treatment program for […]

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Prior authorization of non-opioid pain care prolongs patient suffering

June 4, 2019

A patient on long-term opioid therapy for the treatment of back pain was successfully tapered off all opioids after Illinois anesthesiologist David Walega, MD, implanted a temporary spinal cord stimulator (SCS) during a 10-day trial period. Objectively she was able to increase her quality time with her young children and husband, she was able to […]

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Reforming pain management education for the next generation of physicians

June 3, 2019

After seven years in private practice, Rachel Franklin, MD, returned to where she finished her residency in family medicine and saw a need to improve the way the family medicine center treated its pain patients. She started from the ground up. Taking on the role of medical director at the University of Oklahoma College of […]

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Expanding access to pain and addiction treatment in rural Missouri

June 1, 2019

As a resident at Bronx Lebanon Hospital in New York City, Kurt Bravata, MD frequently treated drug and alcohol-addicted patients and thought he understood the harsh realities these patients faced. Then he moved to a small town in rural Missouri. “The area code for Bolivar, MO, where I practice is 417, which is also the […]

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Removing prior authorization for MAT results in more patient care

June 1, 2019

The AMA Opioid Task Force strongly supports removing barriers that stand between patients and MAT for opioid-use disorder (OUD). Prior authorization for MAT has potentially dangerous consequences for patients who are forced to delay care or are denied treatment because of administrative barriers. Yngvild Olsen, MD, MPH, who is a member of the Maryland State Medical Society […]

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Spotlight on North Carolina

May 15, 2019

Analyzing substance use disorder treatment, pain management and harm reduction.

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Spotlight on Mississippi

May 15, 2019

Best practices and recommendations for ending the opioid epidemic in Mississippi.

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Spotlight on Colorado

January 15, 2019

Colorado’s progress and recommended next steps to end the opioid epidemic.

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Spotlight on Pennsylvania

December 15, 2018

Pennsylvania makes for an ideal case study on how strong leadership can make a difference—even if the fight is not over yet.

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AMA Opioid Task Force 2018 Progress Report

June 12, 2018

Physicians’ progress to reverse the nation’s opioid epidemic.

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AMA Opioid Task Force 2017 Progress Report

June 12, 2017

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to reverse the nation’s opioid epidemic.