AAFP, NIDA Offer Educational Program on Addiction

2012 Scientific Assembly Session Takes Center Stage

June 11, 2013 04:30 pm Matt Brown

In cooperation with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the AAFP is offering family physicians a new perspective on drug abuse and addiction, as well as tools to help physicians care for patients and families who are dealing with these issues.

Composed, in part, of video recorded live during the 2012 AAFP Scientific Assembly in Philadelphia, the Addiction Performance Project(www.drugabuse.gov) was designed by NIDA to help break down the stigma associated with addiction and help doctors and other health professionals better identify and help drug-abusing patients, particularly in primary care settings.

The online program features professional actors reading from Act III of Eugene O'Neill's 1956 play about addiction, "Long Day’s Journey into Night(www.drugabuse.gov)," followed by responses(www.drugabuse.gov) from a panel of family physicians.

Story Highlights
  • The AAFP, in cooperation with the National Institute on Drug Abuse, is offering family physicians online information about drug abuse and addiction, as well as new tools to help physicians care for patients and families dealing with these issues.
  • The video portion of the program, known as the Addiction Performance Project, was recorded live during the 2012 AAFP Scientific Assembly in Philadelphia.
  • The video presentation features professional actors reading from Act III of Eugene O'Neill's 1956 play about addiction, "Long Day's Journey into Night," followed by responses from a panel of family physicians.

Robert Rich Jr., M.D., of Bladenboro, N.C., chair of the AAFP Commission on Health of the Public and Science's Opioid Abuse and Pain Management Workgroup, said the program takes a different tack to get at the heart of the issue.

"There is a lot of material out there talking about addiction, as well as about the prescription and nonprescription medications that can lead to addiction," Rich told AAFP News Now. "The benefit of this project is that it provides another human face to addiction and talks, in the panel discussion, about how to handle some of the different aspects of addiction, including patient resistance to seeking care."

Rich, who served as clinical reviewer for the AAFP's video portion of the project, said each person who views the reading and panel discussion can expect to take away a message specific to himself or herself.

"One of the things for me, personally, is how the prescription medications that we use today, albeit innocently, can ultimately lead to addiction to narcotic pain relievers," Rich said. "In this play, they talk about how the main character became addicted to morphine because, I believe, it was prescribed to the character after childbirth. A generation ago, morphine was much more liberally prescribed as a pain reliever.

"In this day and time, we have more restrictions, but, nevertheless, these opioid pain relievers that we prescribe can still -- in the wrong hands or the wrong scenario -- lead to addiction," he said.

Review Screening Tools, Other Information

As part of its Addiction Performance Project, the National Institute on Drug Abuse provides physicians and other health care professionals with resources to better identify patients with addiction, such as

According to Rich, the project aims to help physicians

  • better identify and more successfully treat or refer drug-addicted patients in primary care settings;
  • explore the role of individual biases and beliefs about people who abuse drugs and how these beliefs affect each physician's approach to screening for addiction and treating addicted patients; and
  • use empathy, knowledge, and supporting tools to improve communication skills and confidence in using screening tools and resources, such as the evidence-based Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment practice model.

"The play reinforces the problem that we have with addiction, including addiction to prescription pain relievers, and puts a face on the problem," Rich said. "And it reminds us that all of us, in our practice, may have patients who are dealing with addiction and that the medications we prescribe can contribute to addiction in certain individuals.

"It also reminds us that addiction affects families on many levels," he added. "It can lead to shame and it can lead to arguments and it can lead to broken families and pain on the part of many family members dealing with the individual who has the addictions."

The AAFP's Web page on pain management and opioid abuse also provides links to patient education information on FamilyDoctor.org, AAFP-produced CME on chronic pain management and selected journal articles from American Family Physician, Family Practice Management and Annals of Family Medicine. The page also links to the AAFP's position paper on the key public health concerns related to opioid abuse and appropriate pain management.


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