Dr. Teresa Jackson Featured by ASAM
This month, Lakeside-Milam’s Medical Director was featured by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM). In an interview with the organization, Teresa Jackson, MD, FASAM explained her own history with substance use disorder – and how that experience led her to pursue employment in the field.
After working as a surgeon in Arizona, Dr. Jackson found herself in the depths of addiction. A period of burnout and struggle brought her to treatment and recovery. Soon afterwards, a mentor suggested that she consider joining the field of addiction medicine.
Dr. Jackson worked at an inpatient detox center, MAT clinics, and residential treatment programs before joining the team at Lakeside-Milam – and finding her place at ASAM.
Dr. Jackson’s Mission at ASAM
Another mentor encouraged Dr. Jackson to get involved with ASAM. “He gently pushed me to do those things and it was the best advice I could have received because it opened doors for me,” she said.
With the support of colleagues and the educational resources offered by ASAM, Dr. Jackson was able to achieve board certification in the field of addiction medicine. Today, she serves as the Region 8 Director on the board of ASAM. She also recently became the chair of ASAM’s Membership Council.
Her goal? To grow and diversify the Society’s membership, with the ultimate outcome of decreased stigma.
Stigma Surrounding Substance Use Disorder
In the words of Fred Rogers, “Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable.” This is the idea behind reducing stigma around substance use disorder.
Stigma is defined as “a mark of shame or discredit.” Broadly, it refers to society’s biases and beliefs about specific conditions. Among the general populace, this can result in individuals dying due to a reluctance to seek help. While evidence-based treatment is available, the negative attitudes surrounding substance use disorder have kept countless people from accessing care.
Among healthcare providers, stigma creates a new set of concerns. If clinicians and family physicians possess incorrect, negative beliefs about addiction, they may assume that a patient’s substance use is their own fault. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), that assumption can lead to “substandard care, or even rejecting individuals seeking treatment.” This government website also indicates that signs of intoxication or withdrawal can lead to fear among emergency room staff members, resulting in sick patients being shooed out of the ER.
Needless to say, it is vital for providers to reduce the stigma surrounding addiction. Dr. Jackson has created a plan to achieve this goal through increased membership in ASAM.
Overcoming Stigma and Finding a Calling
“I believe that as the field of addiction medicine comes more in the forefront… some of that stigma within our own population as medical providers will improve,” Dr. Jackson said in her interview with ASAM.
Her aim is to dispel the stigma surrounding substance use disorder through more diversified membership. By involving family physicians and hospitalists in ASAM, professionals across the healthcare field will develop a deeper, more nuanced understanding of addiction.
Dr. Jackson believes that seeking younger talent will help to quickly turn the tide.
“I really believe that’s where the new energy is going to lie for ASAM; to seek out the young family practice or internal medicine doctors, or psychiatrists who have an interest in addiction medicine,” she said. “We need to get them involved early on to create a new wave of leaders at ASAM.”
What is the timeline for this change? Lakeside-Milam’s Medical Director is optimistic, stating that she hopes to see this improvement “during the next five to ten years.”
What is ASAM?
Founded in 1954, ASAM is a professional medical society representing over 6,000 professionals in the field of addiction medicine. Their membership is comprised of clinicians, physicians, and others who work within the field. ASAM aims to improve access to quality care, educate the public, support research and prevention efforts, and “promote the role of physicians in the care of patients with addiction.”
About Dr. Jackson
Teresa Jackson, MD, FASAM is Lakeside-Milam’s new Medical Director. You may remember meeting her in a recent blog post. As a board-certified Addiction Medicine physician, Dr. Jackson brings an empathetic, evidence-informed approach to treatment.
“We must love and support patients with substance use disorders,” said Dr. Jackson. “Punishment and shame do not heal. I’m excited to begin working with the staff at Lakeside-Milam to achieve these goals.”
Join Us in Fighting the Stigma
We are so excited to have a dynamic leader like Dr. Jackson on the Lakeside-Milam team. To learn more about ASAM, visit their website. You can also browse our blog for informational articles about substance use disorder: its signs, symptoms, and treatment.