The nation’s opioid epidemic has reached crisis proportions. For the calendar year ending in April 2021, drug overdoses claimed more than 100,000 lives in the United States – far exceeding the annual death toll during the height of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. At a rate of more than 100 overdose deaths every day, the crisis is prompting society to reconsider how we address substance use disorder. Addiction is now recognized as a medical condition affecting the wider community rather than a moral failing limited to individuals.
Addiction medicine didn’t even exist as a recognized specialty until a decade ago. Today, OHSU clinicians and researchers are at the forefront of the field.
OHSU now provides addiction intervention for patients hospitalized with infections and other acute medical conditions caused by their underlying substance use disorder. This innovation has become a national model. At the same time, OHSU addiction medicine specialists are working with health care professionals and community leaders to improve addiction care in communities throughout Oregon affected by the opioid epidemic.
The OHSU Addiction Medicine Program also provides direct training to community providers and to providers receiving medical training at OHSU, including the OHSU Addiction Medicine specialty training fellowship.
This work is beginning to make a difference. Although opioid addiction continues to harm local communities, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that Oregon experienced the largest rate of decrease in prescription opioid deaths nationwide, from 2015 to 2016.
See below for a list of some of the OHSU experts in addiction medicine.
Addiction medicine experts
Christopher Blazes, M.D., assistant professor of psychiatry and emergency medicine in the OHSU School of Medicine, and a staff physician in the VA Portland Health Care System.
Blazes is triple board-certified in psychiatry, addiction psychiatry and emergency medicine. He directs the OHSU addiction psychiatry fellowship. A clinician-educator, Blazes lectures widely and has published research on benzodiazepines, synthetic fentanyl analogues, buprenorphine and the neurobiology of addiction and recovery.
Bradley Buchheit, M.D., assistant professor of family medicine in the OHSU School of Medicine.
Buchheit is triple board-certified in addiction medicine, family medicine, and public health and general preventative medicine. He is medical director of an OHSU low-barrier, walk-in clinic that focuses on providing medication for treatment of substance use disorder known as Harm Reduction and Bridges to Care, or HRBR (pronounced “harbor”), which opened in the fall of 2019. Buchheit educates primary care physicians, nurses, social workers, students and other health care workers on low-barrier access to addiction treatment, hospital-based addiction treatment, harm reduction and overdose prevention.
Brian Chan, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of medicine (general internal medicine and geriatrics) in the OHSU School of Medicine.
Chan evaluates and designs health service interventions to improve care for medically and socially complex patients with a focus on substance use disorder. He has conducted systematic reviews of treatments and medications for opioid use disorder and stimulant use disorders including methamphetamine and cocaine. He also works as a primary care physician at Central City Concern in Portland, with a focus on people adversely affected by poverty, homelessness and addiction.
Honora Englander, M.D., associate professor of hospital medicine in the OHSU School of Medicine and an addiction medicine specialist.
Englander’s research focuses on transforming health care, specifically hospital-to-home transitions, for vulnerable adults, including those with substance use disorder. She is also principal investigator and director of Project IMPACT, which brings together physicians, social workers, peer-recovery mentors and community addiction providers to tackle the root causes of opioid addiction when patients are admitted to the hospital.
Todd Korthuis, M.D., M.P.H., a professor of medicine (general internal medicine and geriatrics) and public health and preventive medicine in the OHSU School of Medicine, and an addiction specialist.
Korthuis is the principal investigator in a $4.5 million Oregon HOPE grant from the National Institutes of Health designed to test strategies to reduce overdose deaths and expand treatment access in rural Oregon. The intervention involves peer mentors, local primary care physicians and community stakeholders. Oregon is one of only eight states to receive this award, which is already being pilot-tested in Douglas and Lane counties. Korthuis also leads the Western States Node of National Institute on Drug Abuse Clinical Trials Network that tests new treatments for addiction in a variety of health care settings. Current and forthcoming projects include testing new treatments for methamphetamine use disorder and opioid use disorder in community-based and hospital settings.
Travis Lovejoy, Ph.D., M.P.H., associate professor of psychiatry and public health and preventive medicine in the OHSU School of Medicine, and a pain psychologist in the VA Portland Health Care System.
Lovejoy studies clinical and health systems outcomes when patients discontinue long-term opioid therapy. He is principal investigator of a VA study that examines patient experiences with the opioid taper and discontinuation process, as well as a study that examines the effectiveness of collaborative care approaches to managing pain in patients with substance use disorders.
Dennis McCarty, Ph.D., professor emeritus of public health and preventive medicine in the OHSU School of Medicine and the OHSU-Portland State University School of Public Health.
McCarty’s research focuses on strategies to treat alcohol and substance use disorders, specializing in policy solutions.
Benjamin Morasco, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry in the OHSU School of Medicine and staff psychologist at the VA Portland Health Care System.
Morasco conducts clinical research on issues related to chronic pain, with interests in improving pain treatment outcomes in patients with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders. He is currently funded by grants from the NIH, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to conduct clinical and observational trials designed to improve pain treatment outcomes and reduce adverse effects related to prescription opioids.
Andrew Seaman, M.D., assistant professor of medicine (general internal medicine and geriatrics) in the OHSU School of Medicine and an addiction medicine specialist.
Seaman also works through an OHSU partnership with Central City Concern to meet the medical needs of people who are homeless or recovering from addiction. His research explores the intersections of addiction and hepatitis C, as well as opioid use disorder among incarcerated populations.
Chris Stauffer, M.D., assistant professor of psychiatry in the OHSU School of Medicine, and a physician-scientist at VA Portland Health Care System.
Stauffer is board-certified in psychiatry and addiction medicine. His research involves combining individual and group psychotherapy with psychedelic medicines, such as psilocybin and MDMA, for the treatment of substance use disorders and post-traumatic stress syndrome. Current and upcoming projects include MDMA-assisted group therapy for veterans with PTSD and psilocybin-assisted therapy for methamphetamine use disorder.
Elizabeth Needham Waddell, M.A., Ph.D., assistant professor of public health in the OHSU-Portland State University School of Public Health.
Waddell is principal investigator on a $2.2 million pilot grant from the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. The grant, “Reducing Risk of Overdose after Release from Incarceration,” combines medications for addiction treatment with support from certified recovery mentors for women as they are released from prison. Gov. Kate Brown appointed Waddell to Oregon’s Alcohol and Drug Policy Commission in November 2017.