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A Public Health Approach to Substance Abuse & Mental Health


A Public Health Approach to Substance Abuse & Mental Health

Dr. Lloyd Sederer, Professor, Columbia Public Health School, medical journalist, book/film/TV reviewer and the Chief Medical Officer for the $4 billion New York State Office of Mental Health advocates for his approach to the addiction and mental health crisis in our country.

PR Newswire

CHARLOTTE, N.C., Aug. 23, 2018 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ -- "We are in an epidemic of opioid and other drug use in this country and there are solutions. I'm a public health doctor I know that there are solutions," says Dr. Lloyd Sederer. "Many people know that there are solutions and we're not using them very much. We have little adoption of the kind of things that work."

Sederer is a Professor at the Columbia Public Health School, a medical journalist, a book/film/TV reviewer and the Chief Medical Officer for the $4 billion New York State Office of Mental Health.

Sederer advocates for a public health approach to this crisis in in his recent book, The Addiction Solution: Treating Our Dependence on Opioids and Other Drugs. Sederer joined Business of Healthcare host Matthew Hanis during NATCON18.

Sederer believes we should treat substance abuse as a public health problem. "Sanitation has changed the quality of life and reduced infectious disease. Cigarette smoking has been reduced.

"These are all public health interventions and the same approach is possible with the opioid and substance use epidemic. It's prevention, it's detection, screening, and identifying the problem early."

He also articulates the important of comprehensive treatment. "Effective treatment usually means comprehensive treatment. With a complex disease like substance abuse, one solution alone whether it's medications or recovery is usually insufficient. We know that when you combine twelve step recovery with medication like suboxone or Vivitrol, teach coping relapse prevention skill, CBT, family engagement, and mind-body activities, that's a program that is going to help a lot more people than just reliance on one treatment."

While Sederer believes many aspects of the opioid crisis can be addressed with current capabilities, he also forecasts that emerging treatments will also help: "We have in the pipeline non-opioid analgesics and even vaccines that help block the chemical effects of cocaine on the brain." Sederer brings informed experience to his writing.

The New York State Office of Mental Health is a $4 billion agency which licenses behavioral health providers and delivers about 10% of the care in the state through a mental health system second in size only to the Veterans Administration.

The delivery system serves 25,000 patients through 22 hospitals, 3,300 inpatient beds, 90 clinics, and 10,500 patients in the state prisons. Two research institutes help measure the impact of emerging clinical pathways and interventions.

As the state licensing and regulatory authority, the Office of Mental Health sets clinical standards for 2,500 licensed programs which deliver the rest of mental health services across the state of New York.

Sederer also makes a compelling case for clinicians to come practice for NYS OMH. He points out, "It can be a really good job to work in the state public mental health system. You're working with very complex patients doing team care in New York City, Albany, Syracuse, Rochester, or Buffalo. You can choose inpatient, outpatient, or telemedicine care. State salaries are very competitive. We have a loan repayment program for doctors who carry enormous debt burden from their education. You can receive $150,000 to pay off your debt and on top of that you'll then enter the state pension system."

With the dramatic growth of opioid and other forms of substance abuse and the rampant impact of untreated behavioral conditions on our country, those behavioral health providers are in great demand!

Watch the Full Interview at


SOURCE Business of Healthcare

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