Current Psychiatry Reports

, Volume 7, Issue 5, pp 352-359

First online:

Training psychiatrists to diagnose and treat substance abuse disorders

  • John A. RennerJrAffiliated withVA Outpatient Clinic
  • , Janice Quinones
  • , Amanda Wilson

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Addiction training in psychiatric residency programs needs expansion. Epidemiology research has shown that patients with substance use disorders and co-occurring mental health disorders are the norm in nearly all clinical settings. Unfortunately, traditional training approaches built around brief rotations on detoxification or intensive substance abuse rehabilitation units do not adequately train psychiatrists in long-term management skills, and may reinforce misperceptions that these patients do not respond to treatment. An enhanced addiction curriculum coupled with an extended outpatient clinic rotation is an ideal model for teaching the skills needed to successfully care for these patients. Training must include an adequate knowledge base, an opportunity to cultivate positive attitudes toward these patients, and recognition that psychiatrists must take responsibility for treating the addiction problem and any co-occurring psychiatric disorders. The program developed at Boston University Medical Center successfully integrates expanded addiction psychiatry training into the general psychiatry residency.