Dear WISAM Members,
Happy October! It is with both gratitude and hope that I share my outgoing newsletter as President of the Wisconsin Society of Addiction Medicine. I wanted to take some time to reflect on the past two years.
As an organization, we have continued to be very active in educational, legislative, and treatment areas. We have published letters to the editor on salient topics, remain with representation on multiple state councils (SCAODA, MEB, WMS COL, CSB, Medicaid Advisory Committee), and have continued being part of the Good Samaritan Coalition to change how people are treated after an overdose.
We have had two annual conferences during my tenure, and the most recent in the Wisconsin Dells had many great first experiences for WISAM at this conference. This included poster presentations, art displays from people in recovery, and more regional representation than has ever occurred before! We are looking at being part of future regional conferences and it is a grand opportunity for us to find support from other states and discuss how to navigate the ever-changing landscape of the treatment of addiction. We were privileged to have national keynote speakers Yngvild Olsen, SAMHSA, and Dr. Brian Hurley, President of ASAM, interspersed among many intriguing discussions ranging from Harm Reduction (Dr. Elizabeth Salisbury-Afshar) to Cannabis Legislation Considerations (Dr. Doris Gundersen).
The COVID pandemic has officially been sunsetted, but the impact on telemedicine and our ability to provide access to services continues to be noted. For instance, addiction treatment providers and researchers proved that people can effectively access life-saving treatment without needing in-person visits. The DEA has just extended pandemic-era waivers for controlled prescription prescribing until December 2024.
Wisconsin DHS changed requirements for treating substance use disorders. On the heels of those changes, federal law changed so that prescribers no longer need a Buprenorphine waiver to treat people with this treatment from any office. This paved the way for WISAM to develop and implement an 8-hour SUD-focused training for primary care providers. We will just need to hang on for the ride and support each other through the next inevitable changes with an eye towards novel partnerships and shared solutions!
It has been an honor to lead this organization for the past two years and be a part of good ideas becoming reality. I remain inspired by our membership and hope that we can continue to support each other moving forward in treating addiction and saving lives.
Thanks for your interest and participation with WISAM - please stay involved with Open Exchanges in 2024!
In gratitude,Dr. Ritu Bhatnagar, MD MPH FASAM DFAPA