Conference Coverage

VIDEO: Addressing the opioid epidemic: Psychiatrists are poised to lead



– Psychiatrists are uniquely equipped to take the lead in providing cost-effective, evidence-based addiction treatment services, according to Lama Bazzi, MD, and Elie Aoun, MD.

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As cochairs of a session titled, “Psychiatrists at the Helm of the Opioid Epidemic” at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association, Dr. Bazzi and Dr. Aoun addressed how psychiatrists can take the lead as part of multidisciplinary teams, as well as roles they can play in policy and the criminal justice system to “shift the paradigm in terms of how the general public thinks about addiction.”

They also discussed existing models and some new models they have been working on to address the problem.

“We want to empower psychiatrists to feel that they already have the knowledge base to do what needs to be done, and to just ... put out there different ways that we can brainstorm together to do that,” Dr. Bazzi of Maimonides Medical Center, Brooklyn, N.Y., said in a video interview at the meeting.

She and Dr. Aoun also discussed an ongoing project that involves input from law enforcement and support from the APA; an online training module is being developed to address different mental disorders – including substance use disorders – and other issues that officers face, such as racial biases and disparities.

“The curriculum that we’re working on is going to be symptom based,” said Dr. Aoun, of Columbia University, New York, explaining that this approach is more practical for helping law enforcement officers in dealing with issues involving individuals with mental disorders.

Another project focuses on keeping people with mental disorders out of the criminal justice system, he said.


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