Inside Hilton's Push on Addiction Training

The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation has provided a $2 million grant to the American Board of Addiction Medicine Foundation (ABAM) to create a new training center for doctors: the National Center for Physician Training in Addiction Medicine. This grant follows a broader trend in mental health grantmaking of providing primary care physicians with the skills they need to spot addictions early in patients and intervene appropriately. (See Conrad N. Hilton Foundation: Grants for Mental Health.)

The center is particularly interested in addressing the needs of adolescents and young adults. ABAM points out that 90% of people with addictions began using an addictive substance before the age of 18. And addictions often spread among families; adolescents who use drugs are more likely to have a parent who does.

The idea of addiction medicine reaching outside the realm of psychology is a relatively new one, and ABAM was one of the first organizations to promote the importance of educating primary care physicians in the field. ABAM establishes and accredits training programs for PCPs and other physicians.

One of the Hilton Foundation's interest areas is in preventing substance abuse, and the establishment of the National Center for Physician Training in Addiction Medicine is a first step toward providing not just treatment but also early intervention and prevention of the problem.

Both ABAM and Hilton support an early intervention model called Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT). Although promising, this relatively new technique is not widely available to young people — one of the groups that could benefit from it the most. Undoubtedly, part of Hilton's motivation in providing this grant to ABAM is to continue the proliferation of SBIRT. (Read Hilton Foundation Senior Program Officer Alexa Eggleston's IP profile.)