Why We Treat Addiction

Elisa Gumm, DO, Addiction Medicine Fellowship Director

No one choses addiction. Addiction is a chronic disease with a relapsing and remitting course which needs passionate, dedicated, empathetic physicians to treat. I chose to treat addiction to fight the stigma which prevents physicians from getting trained, and patients getting treated. All patients deserve evidence-based care without barriers.

Susan Hadley, MD, Addiction Medicine Fellowship Co-Director

Patients with addiction are a very satisfying patient population to work with; seeing patients recover and live the lives they want is why I became a physician. Addiction is a chronic brain disease, and its treatment is underrepresented in the medical field. I work in addiction medicine because, as a family physician, I treat the whole person. I enjoy working with underserved populations and ensuring they get the health care they need and deserve.

Alicia Hidalgo, MD, Addiction Medicine Fellow

As an internal medicine hospitalist, I encounter many patients with substance use disorder in my daily practice. In the inpatient setting, many physicians lack the training and comfort level to effectively address the needs of this patient population. Additionally, people who struggle with substance use disorder often face judgement based on biases and the stigma surrounding the disease. I chose addiction medicine because it is an underserved need in my primary patient population and also very satisfying for me professionally to serve these patients. My goal is to use the knowledge I gain and my expertise in treatment of patients and to educate my colleagues, residents, and medical students to diagnose and apply evidence-based care to the management of patients with substance use disorder..

Lindsey Retterath, MD, Addiction Medicine Fellow

Through community-level harm reduction, appropriate medical interventions, and multi-modal individualized treatment, we improve the lives of individual patients and Southern Arizona communities impacted by substance use disorders (SUD). As a pediatrician, the opportunity to enhance screening, referrals, and treatment for adolescents particularly motivates me. As an emergency physician, I have the opportunity to promote harm reduction among and offer treatment modalities for patients in the ER. As a community member, I get to collaborate with and glean from innovative physicians and public health leaders spanning many specialties. My inspiration to be part of this work only grows, and I am confident this will continue as the field evolves.

Michelle O'Brien, DO, 2020-21 Addiction Medicine Fellow

Addiction is a disease process that can affect anyone. No one is immune. I have learned so much about resiliency and courage by witnessing the struggle yet scrappiness of those who survive and then thrive during treatment. It has been such a gift to be allowed in during a difficult process where patients are met with such stigma and shame. Nothing has been more rewarding as a physician than to be a small part, hopefully a helpful part, of that journey of recovery. This is why I thoroughly enjoy treating those who struggle with substance use.

Jamie Weinand, MD, 2020-21 Addiction Medicine Fellow

I became interested in treating addiction as a medical student and resident in family medicine, when I encountered so many patients with addictions. People with addictions have treatable conditions but often received substandard care due to stigmas entrenched in our society. Particularly with conditions like opiate use disorder, we have excellent evidence-based medical treatments that still remain stigmatized and with limited access to the people who truly need it. Nearly 90% of people with opioid use disorder will relapse, and buprenorphine has been shown to lower that relapse rate down to about 50%. For other conditions that family doctors treat, such as diabetes mellitus, if a medication as effective as buprenorphine is for opioid use disorder was ever developed for diabetes, that medication would be distributed in a heartbeat to patients without issue. However, for addiction, there are major roadblocks and barriers even within healthcare itself and these evidence-based, safe treatments are still not routine. I hope one outcome of our fellowship is that we empower more primary care physicians to treat addiction and teach our colleagues, with more family practitioners viewing addiction as being within our scope of care.

Edward Ramsey, MD, 2019-20 Addiction Medicine Fellow

My training at the UArizona Addiction Medicine Program has prepared me to practice independently and confidently and renewed my love for medicine. I regained a sense of value to society and self-worth as it relates to what I can offer to patients afflicted with substance use disorders. I now work in Houston, TX at Contemporary Medicine and Associates, a private practice that specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of substance use disorders.