Nora Volkow, M.D.: "The intent of these annual meeting tracks is
to make psychiatrists more aware, more conscious, of substance abuse, so that
they can be incentivized to be more involved with its treatment."
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is once again sponsoring a
special track of sessions at APA's annual meeting focusing on the latest
research regarding the identification and treatment of substance abuse and
The NIDA track, titled "The Science of Addiction: Translating New
Insights Into Better Psychiatric Practice," includes lectures, symposia,
issue workshops, and at least one forum. If history is any
judge—previous NIDA-sponsored tracks were heavily attended in 1998 and
2004—this year's sessions will prove to be not only a popular draw but
also highly regarded.
NIDA Director Nora Volkow, M.D., has long been an ardent supporter of APA's
annual meeting as a premier educational venue for psychiatrists, and, as she
did in 2004, she has taken an active role in the overall development of the
NIDA track as well as specific sessions within the track.
"The intent of these annual meeting tracks," Volkow told
Psychiatric News, "is to make psychiatrists more aware, more
conscious, of substance abuse, so that they can be incentivized to be more
involved with its treatment."
While comorbidity between substance abuse and addiction and other mental
illnesses is once again a strong theme running through the sessions, Volkow
said, this year there is also a strong focus on identifying and treating
patients with a substance abuse problem where it occurs on its own.
"There will be presentations on the latest scientific
findings," Volkow continued, "and [sessions focused] on bringing
forward new ways of treating as well as preventing drug abuse and addiction in
The APA annual meeting, Volkow noted, is the perfect educational setting
for these types of sessions, because it brings together a substantial
concentration of individuals whom Volkow considers her perfect captive
Psychiatry is "the one specialty within the field of medicine that is
uniquely qualified to address these brain diseases," she commented,"
and as such it is the responsibility of the psychiatrist to treat these
However, the representation of psychiatry in the drug abuse treatment
community, Volkow said, "has been badly eroded over the last couple
decades. The majority of substance abuse patients are treated by other
specialists—psychologists, clinical social workers, licensed counselors,
and others—who have been a tremendous resource to the field and to
patients. But overall the field of addiction psychiatry "urgently
requires a much stronger psychiatric infrastructure to support the treatment
of patients with substance abuse and addictive disorders."
Particularly important to Volkow is ensuring that psychiatry residents get
a good grounding in addiction psychiatry so that identifying and treating
patients with substance abuse problems is second nature to them from the start
of their career. To that end, she is leading a forum for residents titled"
Substance Abuse in Your Patients: Beyond What Is Taught in Your
Residency" at noon on Monday, May 21.
The NIDA track will open on Monday, May 21, at 9 a.m., with a lecture by
Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) titled "The Road to Equity: Marching
Toward a Just Treatment of Mental Illness and Addiction in America."
Volkow will present a lecture in the Frontiers of Science series on
Tuesday, May 22, at 9 a.m. titled, "The Neurobiology of Free Will in
At 2 p.m. that same day, Volkow will be joined by National Institute of
Mental Health (NIMH) Director Thomas Insel, M.D., National Institute on
Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) Director Ting-Kai Li, M.D., and Suzanne
Vogel-Scibilia, M.D., representing the National Alliance on Mental Illness
(NAMI), in the Presidential Symposium "Current Research Advances:
APA/NIMH/NIDA/NIAAA/NAMI Perspectives." The session will be chaired by
APA President Pedro Ruiz, M.D., and co-chaired by Darrel Regier, M.D.,
director of APA's Division of Research and executive director of the American
Psychiatric Institute for Research and Education.
Another session expected to be of interest to many APA members is the
symposium "Insights on Obesity and Drug Addiction From Brain
Imaging," which will be held on Monday, May 21, at 2 p.m.
The list of sessions to be included in the NIDA track had not been
finalized by press time. The list will be published in a future issue
ofPsychiatric News. ▪