About 20 years ago, I ran across this in an essay by C.S. Lewis:
Every age has its own outlook. It is specially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes. We all, therefore, need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means the old books.*
Lewis argued, “I do not wish the ordinary reader to read no modern books. But if he must read only the new or only the old, I would advise him to read the old.” He also offered this suggestion: “It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between.”
My reading habits immediately changed. I started reading old books—in many cases, very old books.
I had the privilege of authoring the chapter on Alcohol Use Disorder in Conn’s Current Therapy 2023, the venerable textbook that has now been through 75 (!!) annual editions. With a little luck, you should be able read it via Google Books (Section 10: Psychiatric Disorders, Page 823).
It’s great to be back at the MARRCHAnnual Conference & Expo after a several year hiatus. This year, I’ll be speaking on tailoring treatment using the transtheoretical model (26 October, 12:30 p.m.). You can find my PowerPoint here.
The transtheoretical model is seemingly central to addiction treatment, but do we effectively use it?
Do we accurately stage patients upon admission and during their course of care?
Does our interpersonal stance match each patient’s stage of change?
Do we use appropriate processes of change for each patient’s stage of change?
We could perhaps tackle psychiatric malingering next year (hint, hint). In some ways, this is easier to deal with as presentations seldom require urgent off-site transport. Standardized tests also make determinations more secure.
Many thanks to Holly Compo, Tom Wells and Randy Willis for inviting me to participate, and for onsite support. ✸
I’ve been practicing addiction medicine since 2005. A lot has happened between then and now, including regional recognition of our specialty by Minnesota Monthly in 2014.
You can trace the history of the specialty back to at least 1954. That’s when the New York City Medical Society on Alcoholism, progenitor of the eventual American Society of Addiction (ASAM) formed. In 1983, it began awarding a certificate of added qualification (CAQ), which was still available when I entered the profession. My certificate—December 6th, 2008—is probably from the final CAQ cohort.
I was surprised when Minnesota Monthly notified me that I was going be included in its 2014 “Top Doctors” issue. The letter didn’t indicate which specialty, so I e-mailed the publisher. They replied, “You have been nominated in the field of Addiction Medicine.” This was a new category. Our specialty had finally achieved mainstream recognition—grocery stores, gas stations, home mailboxes!
Five of us were listed in 2014. The number has grown over time and this year includes 17 addiction medicine physicians.
Mpls.St.Paul Magazine publishes a competing list. I hope that it discovers addiction medicine before I retire. I’m only 52, so there’s still lots of time. ✸
___ Postscript. We intentionally run a very small practice—it’s just my longtime assistant, Kris Jamieson, and me. She’s the one answering the phone and e-mails, chasing down labs results and medical records, calling pharmacies, completing prior authorizations, and offering constant encouragement to patients (they tell me “I love Kris” and “Kris is great” all the time). Behind every top doctor there’s a top assistant. This recognition is just as much hers.
No, not *that* kind of mask! I’m thinking about the airline safety announcement. It’s a great metaphor for health professionals—it’s hard to help others when we’re struggling ourselves.
Please join me for a weekend retreat at Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation’s aptly named Renewal Center, located on its beautiful Center City, Minn., campus. I’ll be bringing together a decade of work on burnout, resilience and wellbeing, with a big emphasis on acquiring new self-care skills.
Anyone working in healthcare welcome. And, yes, Hazelden Betty Foundation is known for addiction treatment—but you don’t need to have a personal history of addiction to attend the retreat. ✸
_____ Postscript. The retreat’s title—This Is Water—is a riff on a small but profound book by David Foster Wallace.
As a preacher’s kid, I just couldn’t resist the pun!
June 30th marked my 700th day of Musing. Many thanks to InteraXon for bringing this amazing technology to consumers.
For more on my Muse journey, please see here and here. Please also see this video beginning at around 26:00.
I’m planning to lead some meditation retreats in 2022 (Covid got in the way the past two years). Each attendee will receive a Muse S and meditation instruction over the course of a weekend. More to come after I work out the details. ✸
Here’s a quirky chapter from my early professional life. I worked for Multidata, a small company then based in Minnesota, before, during and after medical school. Our main products and services dealt with pollen—the stuff that causes allergies. More on that perhaps in future posts.
In the early 1990s, we sought to diversify and landed on mosquito forecasts. Go ahead and chuckle, but there was actually a decent market for the product.
Our first media appearance was in The Wall Street Journal on Friday, June 30th, 1995—right before the Independence Day holiday. This led to a lot more media, both that weekend and in the years that followed.
So here’s a tribute to Dennis Gebhard, Multidata’s founder, and his business partner, Bill Erickson, for urging imaginations to run wild. Those were truly magical years! ✸