Disrupted Physician 101.1: The “Impaired Physician Movement” and the History of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM).
“With one arm around the shoulder of religion and the other around the shoulder of medicine, we might change the world.”—Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, AA World Services, Inc (1953).
In 1985 the British sociologist G. V. Stimson wrote:
“The impaired physician movement is characterized by a number of evangelical recovered alcoholic and addict physicians, whose recovery has been accompanied by an involvement in medical society and treatment programs. Their ability to make authoritative pronouncements on physician impairment is based on their own claim to insider’s knowledge.”
The American Society of Addiction Medicine’s mission is to “establish addiction medicine as a specialty recognized by professional organizations, governments, physicians, purchasers, and consumers of health care products, and the general public.”
In this they have succeeded.
And in the year 2014 Stimson’s characterization of the “impaired physician movement” remains as accurate and apt as it was in 1985. But the “number of evangelical recovered alcoholic and addict physicians” has increased dramatically (outnumbering Addiction Psychiatry by 4:1) and their involvement in “ medical society and treatment programs” has been realized and enforced through the state Physician Health Programs and their “PHP-approved’ assessment and treatment centers.
Their “ability to make authoritative pronouncements on physician impairment…based on their own claim to insider’s knowledge” has become public policy and sanctified by Regulatory Medicine.
And the 1953 Alcoholics Anonymous prophecy that “With one arm around the shoulder of religion and the other around the shoulder of medicine, we might change the world” is also coming to pass.
But the world is not changing for the better as that arm around the shoulder of religion has its fingers deep in the pockets of the multi-billion dollar drug and alcohol testing and assessment and treatment industries. And the arm around the shoulder of medicine has its fingers clamped tightly around its throat; a stranglehold in full throttle suffocating the Profession of Medicine with no meaningful opposition I can see.