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Stay up to date with news, announcements, and upcoming event information from the Washington Physicians Health Program team. For an archive of relevant resources on a wide variety of physicians health topics, please visit Articles and Publications.

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Blog Posts » Substance Use Disorders (SUD)

Help contribute to an upcoming film about physician addiction and recovery!

Alison McAlpine is writing a film inspired by her grandfather, Dr. Procter, a physician who suffered from addiction. If you are a physician in recovery and interested in contributing in the film, please contact Alison at films@alisonmcalpine.com. Anonymity/confidentiality will be respected.

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Learn more about Alison

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Partnering with Physician Health Programs (PHP)

A great article out this week highlighting the importance of collaborating with Physician Health Programs when treating doctors with substance use disorders. 

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Does Alcohol Anonymous Work?

A recent Cochrane Review led by Dr. John Kelly and Dr. Keith Humphreys clearly demonstrates the effectiveness of Alcoholics Anonymous. This excellent video explains the findings and implications for treatment providers and patients.

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Dr. Chris Bundy speaks on Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) for Opioid Use Disorders (OUD)

Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) for Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) does not equal treatment with buprenorphine. Dr. Chris Bundy, WPHP Executive Medical Director and FSPHP President, is interviewed on this complex topic:

Doctors’ Exemplary Treatment Success Occurs Absent High Use of Buprenorphine Alcohol and Drug Abuse Weekly – May 11, 2020 article by Gary Enos in the May issue of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Weekly.

“Physicians experience some of the most noteworthy recovery success rates among professional groups, largely because of the presence of physician health programs (PHPs) that offer a treatment-focused alternative to discipline while still protecting public safety.”

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Cochrane Review Final Word on Benefits of 12 Step Programs

A 2020 Cochrane Review was recently released evaluating outcomes and cost-effectiveness of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Twelve-Step Facilitation (TSF).  While a prior 2006 Cochrane Review did not provide conclusive evidence of the effectiveness of the AA or TSF approaches, it was limited to eight studies and much has changed since then.

Most important to this current review is the number and quality of studies available for review. The current review includes 27 studies involving 10,565 participants with 21 of those studies being randomized or quasi-randomized controlled trials.  In short, the review demonstrates that AA/TSF increases rates and lengths of abstinence compared with other interventions (such as cognitive behavioral therapy and motivational enhancement therapy) at a much lower cost.

This 2020 Cochrane Review provides the highest scientific rigor. We are encouraged by the findings since they support a recovery process that has benefited so many of us, our participants, friends, family and colleagues. We are also reminded that there is more unknown than known when it comes to addictive illness and that our most strongly held beliefs are the ones we need to be most wary of. Polarized views of what works or doesn’t work usually betray us.  There are no simple solutions to the complex problem of addiction. Humility in the face of the awesome destructive power of this illness urges us to embrace every tool at our disposal.

We are grateful to the study authors for this important contribution.  It validates the experiences of millions who credit their recovery to AA and other 12 Step Programs and may help alleviate skepticism and doubt among others.  We extend special appreciation to Keith Humphreys, PhD, one of the study authors, an leader in the science of mutual help, supporter of the Physician Health Program model, and friend to WPHP.

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Physician Health Statement Update

The American Society of Addiction Medicine recently posted its updated Physician Health Statement, Physicians and Other Health Professionals with Addiction, this policy statement strongly endorses the Physician Health Program model and demonstrates the value of a collaborative relationship with our partners in organized medicine.

Congratulations to the Federation of State Physician Health Programs for their successful collaboration with ASAM on this important work!

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