AMERSA 39th Annual National Conference

November 5th, the national conference of the Association for Medical Education and Research in Addiction – AMERSA 39th – took place in Washington, DC. With 75% of the 225 delegates being new to the conference, the conference dynamics enlivened. As a rather small association with only 1 FTE, it is doing great in attracting so many new delegates. To see what lectures they got to hear, read my notes from the Keynote speeches below.

www.amersa.org

There is no room for prosecutors in the delivery room

Dr Paltrow questioned who gets the rights when it comes to pregnant drug users. While the laws in many US states try to protect the unborn child, in reality it is the judge, the county and the attorney who gets the rights. Is this the protection of the unborn or of the system? Dr Paltrow’s mother smoked during pregnancy:

“Maybe if my mom wasn’t smoking throughout her pregnancy, I might have been a for-profit lawyer.”

To reduce the stigmatisation of pregnant women with substance use disorders, make sure to “use the word use” – not Abuse, neither drug-dependent newborn. If you are asked to drug test when you shouldn’t, it is a moral obligation to do civil disobedience. The medical education should include teaching the risks that clinicians carry when they report pregnant women who use drugs.

What is appropriate counselling?

 
Dr Carroll posed some really important questions, such as – How do we really get to good long-term outcomes? Is Medical Management (MM approach) that good? The intensity of MM done in trials is probably not scalable in clinical practice. We shouldn’t give up on the research evaluating psychosocial treatments. Let’s give the therapies a fighting chance, shall we? We’ve just gotta find a way to do better as therapists. Many trials report that people do not finish the treatment. We have to reach to underserved and vulnerable populations. We have to realise that people in buprenorphine treatment are different – they don’t seek counselling. CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) retains people in treatment 3x better than treatment as usual. Usual treatment does not teach people skills.
 

Betty Ford Award Plenary Session at the AMERSA 39th Annual National Conference

How AMERSA was saved? When Betty Ford learned in 1985 that the association is near extinction due to only $200 left in the kitty, she offered a $10.000 cheque from the royalties of her new biography and personal account. This year, Dr Caetano received award named after her. His Border project, and two other projects, found how the Mexican Americans and the Puerto Ricans drank much more than the other groups of US Hispanics. Women of this origin drank the most of all national groups in this country. 

“No matter what is the dimension of drinking, the diversity is there.”

If you’re in Miami, it’s not gonna be helpful to know the national data. The local authorities need to know.

If you enjoyed reading about this year’s conference, you may like to read my notes from the previous year, 38th meeting in San Francisco, CA, November 4th, 2014.