Our current “Past President,” Sara Jo Nixon, expressed a concern in her first column at this time last year that psychologists working in the science and practice of addictive behaviors fail to see the relevance of our Society of Addiction Psychology (SoAP). In an attempt to help make it more relevant, Sara Jo spearheaded the creation of an important new addiction-specific conference sponsored by SoAP and Division 28 (Psychopharmacology and Substance Abuse). Thanks to the efforts by Sara Jo, Jen Buckman, and many others, the inaugural conference was a success, bringing together students, post-docs, early career, and senior psychologists, for a fun, focused, informative, and inspiring conference. We want to build on this success again this coming February 2014. I’d like to ask for your help in expanding our initialsuccess and encourage you please to submit a poster or merely come to learn and enjoy (CEUs are available)! Our second Division 28/50 conference will be held at the same W Hotel in downtown Atlanta, Georgia, February, 28th-March 1st, 2014.
As SoAP President this year, the major thrust of my initiatives is to amplify and extend Sara Jo’s outstanding efforts to make our division more relevant to more people. Addiction is not waning; we are not doing very well at preventing new cases or beating it into remission in the United States or elsewhere. In fact, there is more urgency now than ever before. Opiate overdose mortalities have surpassed motor vehicle accidents as the nation’s number one cause of accidental death; new versions of “club drugs” claim more young lives every week; increased legalization of marijuana will mean greater access and consumption, more addiction cases, and an increased burden on public health and safety; and alcohol continues to exact an enormous and growing toll without abatement. Video gaming and the internet is opening the door to engaging new activities (e.g., gambling, sex) that act on, and can come to dominate, the brain reward circuits affected by psychoactive substances. Our expertise in these areas is needed but is perhaps not as “in demand” as it should be.
From the practice side, a part of the problem has been due to professional credentialing. The substance use disorder (SUD) treatment field is dominated by our bachelor’s and master’s level colleagues who are wellorganized and have representation at the bargaining tables at local and state levels. Physicians, too, have influential and highly regarded organizations, such as the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) and the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry (AAAP) along with an American Psychiatric Association Board Certification in Addiction Psychiatry, and recently, a new Board Specialty in Addiction Medicine. For addiction counselors and master’s-level therapists, there are a variety of state-specific credentials that are recognized by insurance payors and state funding bodies. Until recently, as psychologists, the sole credential available was the Certificate of Proficiency in the Treatment of Alcohol and Other Psychoactive Substance Use Disorders. We recently learned, however, that this Certificate was dropped by APA without our knowledge. While supporting existing certificate holders, the door is now shut to new psychologists wanting to obtain it. We are trying to get this important certification reinstated, as without it, psychologists have no recognized objective certification standard to provide reassurance that we, too (having devised the majority of the treatments being implemented for SUD), are capable of treating individuals suffering from addiction. Also, with a growing emphasis on accountable care and parity legislation likely to have a big impact on the numbers of people able to access SUD care, formal recognition of our expertise in addiction psychology is needed now more than ever. If you have not yet signed our petition to get this Certificate reinstated please support it at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/reopening/ or contact Nancy Piotrowski.
As noted in the influential work by Glasgow and colleagues (Glasgow et al., 2001, 2003), Impact = reach x effectiveness. Thus, in making SoAP more relevant to more people, in addition to working to have our Certificate of Proficiency reinstated, I wish to increase the reach and effectiveness of addiction psychology by working toward obtaining recognition of addiction as a “specialty,” so that psychologists can obtain a board certification in addiction through the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP). Being “Board Certified in Addiction Psychology” has a distinguished and familiar ring to it, since it echoes the standards of our medical colleagues, and I believe will garner the objective credibility and stature that should be provided to doctoral level psychologists in addiction. I know a number of you have already expressed willingness to help in this process. I will be taking you up on your offers. If you have not yet expressed an interest, but would like to help in this initiative, please email me at the address below.
Finally, it has been well noted that one of the major differences between a “good” organization and one that is “remarkable” is the continuous assessment of its ability to fulfill its mission. Consequently, related to my theme of increasing relevance and effectiveness, I am proposing that we measure annually the impact of what we do. As psychologists this should not be difficult (right?). Our mission is threefold: to promote advances in research, clinical practice, and professional education and training. A good measure needs to be reliable and valid; it also needs to be collected. Because we do not have full-time paid staff, feasibility is key. I propose we have at least one measure for each of these three mission domains, that can be reviewed annually and our progress and impact tracked. With simplicity and feasibility as key features of any measure we choose, I would like to gather input on what you think would be good measures to assess our impact in these three areas. Please email me at email@example.com.
Finally, my sincere thanks goes out also to my colleagues, past and present, on our SoAP Board and various committees for their outstanding dedication and service to our Society. I am grateful, too, to all our SoAP members, for taking the time to offer such helpful and constructive suggestions and feedback. Please keep it coming. I am honored to be serving as your president this year. Have a great Fall!
Glasgow, R. E., Lichtenstein, E., & Marcus, A. C. (2003). Why don’t we see more translation of health promotion research to practice? Rethinking the efficacy-to-effectiveness transition. Am J Public Health, 93(8), 1261-1267.
Glasgow, R. E., McKay, H. G., Piette, J. D., & Reynolds, K. D. (2001). The RE-AIM framework for evaluating interventions: What can it tell us about approaches to chronic illness management? Patient Educ Couns, 44(2), 119-127.