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Caron lends a hand to pediatricians unfamiliar with addiction

December 1, 2010
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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The treatment center launches trainings for pediatric residents and fellows

A pediatrician often serves as the healthcare system’s gateway to reaching a troubled youth, but too many generalist physicians lack basic information on substance use trends and how substance abuse affects young lives. Caron Treatment Centers has responded to this challenge by launching an innovative training for pediatric residents and fellows; it reports that the first round of graduates received some eye-opening information that is bound to improve their practices.

“We showed them how many aspects of children’s health are influenced by drugs and alcohol, from gastrointestinal issues to cardiac issues,” says Harris Stratyner, PhD, regional vice president of Caron’s New York treatment facility.

Stratyner says that while he receives more referrals of young people from pediatricians than from any other source, pediatricians in general receive too little training in substance use topics, leaving many unfamiliar with current drug use trends among the patient group they serve.

The Caron trainings are designed to give pediatricians the tools to perform early interventions and to integrate addiction screening into their routine medical assessments.

“We talk about what drugs we’re seeing abused, what’s normal experimentation vs. zero tolerance, and we discuss various treatment options and how to intervene,” Stratyner says.

In order not to place undue burdens on the already demanding schedules of doctors in training, Caron has designed its course as a two-evening offering from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. each night. “I would love to have four days,” Stratyner says. Participants go to Caron’s New York treatment center and are served dinner during the sessions.

“We also have them meet with a Caron graduate, and with a parent,” Stratyner says.

Stratyner, an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, developed the idea for the Caron Pediatric Addiction Training Program with Nicholas Pace, MD, a clinical associate professor of medicine at New York University.

Stratyner says the physicians in training as well as their instructors realize the program can succeed from even more than a clinical standpoint. “We can also sell it to them as a marketable skill,” he says.