An opinion piece in the June 13, 2023, edition of The Washington Post makes the case that because of the growing overdose crisis in the United States, all doctors need to know how to treat addiction. We at Valley Medical Laboratory agree.
The article, written by Patrice A. Harris, Josiah D. Rich, and Joshua M. Sharfstein, begins as follows:
“Given the size of the U.S. overdose crisis—the number of annual deaths topped 100,000 again in 2022—it is astonishing how few Americans who need medical addiction treatment receive it. Buprenorphine and methadone, highly effective drugs for opioid use disorder, are provided to fewer than 1 in 6 people who would benefit from them. A major reason for this failure is that not enough doctors have been trained in their use.”
The article continues:
“Surprising as it might seem, most U.S. medical schools and residency programs do not provide a full set of training for treating addiction. This needs to change.”
At Valley Medical Laboratory, we agree with this assessment. The number of toxicology tests we run for our treatment center partners is large and continues to increase, a sign of the overall crisis facing our community. We also know from talking to our treatment center partners that many doctors and providers are not fully equipped to provide the proper treatment for patients suffering from substance use disorder, hence the growing need for treatment center services.
Valley Medical Laboratory is helping to confront this crisis by continuing to expand our toxicology testing services and the substances for which we test. In addition, our partner Valley Medical and Wellness clinics, in addition to treating addiction patients directly, focuses on educating medical students and other young professionals entering the healthcare industry. Valley Medical management takes pride in providing real-world addiction medicine experience to individuals ready to enter medical school. Our clinics also sponsor an ongoing fellowship program for University of Minnesota medical students.
Through all the services we offer, our goals are to help sufferers of addiction get their lives back and to better educate up-and-coming medical professionals in the field of addiction medicine. We agree with the conclusion reached by the article’s authors:
“Opioid use disorder is treatable, and medicines are readily available. But doctors cannot learn to help patients by taking a weekend course alone. The training needs to be part of their foundational education. All physicians should emerge from medical school and residency able to give this lifesaving care.”