Rhode Island Hospital Offers First Fellowship in Addiction Medicine in R.I.

March 27, 2015

Rhode Island Hospital has established a fellowship program in addiction medicine, the first of its kind in the state. Funded in part by a grant from CleanSlate Addiction Treatment Centers of Massachusetts, the new fellowship is one of the ways the hospital is responding to the public health crisis posed by addiction in Rhode Island and southern New England.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Rhode Island is perched at the top of the list for illicit drug use and has the third highest rate of alcohol poisoning deaths in the nation. Opioid abuse is rampant, including not just heroin but prescription opioids such as Vicodin, Percocet, methadone, and oxycodone. Heroin is the most commonly cited drug among primary drug treatment admissions in the state. Tobacco addiction is also on the list of the most difficult substances to quit, and 20 percent of Rhode Island’s adult population smoke cigarettes.

“Training doctors in addiction medicine serves not only to improve public health, but also to advance the knowledge and skill of our own physicians in addressing substance use problems,” said Peter D. Friedmann, MD, MPH, FASAM, FACP, director of the new fellowship based in the division of general internal medicine at Rhode Island Hospital.

The physician fellows will work with physicians certified in addiction medicine and addiction psychiatry as well as those trained in internal medicine, family medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics and emergency medicine. The fellows will work with varied populations, including but not limited to youth, veterans, patients with HIV, health professionals and those within the criminal justice system.

“We’re actively recruiting candidates from all specialties who will help us make evidence-based addiction prevention and treatment more available to those who need it,” said Friedmann.

Rhode Island Hospital was one of four new fellowship programs accredited recently by the American Board of Addiction Medicine Foundation (ABAM). In all, ABAM has accredited 27 addiction medicine training programs in the U.S.