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Addiction prevention and treatment a fast-rising specialty at medical schools

Courtesy University at Buffalo

The American Board of Medical Specialties recently recognized addiction medicine as an official sub-specialty for doctors. A western New York doctor was instrumental in creating the field.

Dr. Richard Blondell has dedicated more than 20 years of his career treating and trying to prevent addiction. Blondell works to certify fellowship programs that train physicians in addiction medicine and he teaches at the University at Buffalo.

“We now know that medical treatment aimed at correcting the deficits in the brain might actually help to improve the outcomes with addiction," Blondell said.

There are now 40 such programs, nearly double since last year. But Blondell said there aren’t enough doctors certified in the field to keep up with the high rates of addiction in the country.

“If people have an addiction and their brain has been changed by exposure to drugs, the basic workings of the brain become different. Then too, the resulting behavior that's created by the brain may change.” he explained.

Now that the field is officially recognized, Blondell said he and his colleagues at the Addiction Medicine Foundation plan to get programs at every medical school in the country.