American Society of Addiciton Medicine

Board of Directors

Leadership

Board of Directors

Alta DeRoo, MD, MBA, FACOG, DFASAM

Director At Large


I was born into a family of service with my father being active-duty Navy when born on Midway Island in the south Pacific. This sense of service was branded in my character and after earning a BA in psychology from Connecticut College, I joined the Navy for what turned out to be the next 24 years. I was selected for combat Naval Aviation and was among the first cohort of women to fly in combat.

Because of this timing, I was the first female in my community of the E2C Haweye, a carrier airborne early warning plane. We do have a short cameo in Top Gun, but you would not see Mav flying my plane. We are the eyes and ears of the fleet and coordinate war-at-sea exercises and air-to-air combat. During this time, I learned crew (team) coordination and it was the beginning of my career in leadership.

After 8 years of aviation and over 40 combat missions, I applied to medical school and was awarded a scholarship to attend medical school. After graduating from the University of Florida, College of Medicine I completed residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology. I completed several missions including Guantanamo Bay Cuba and a 5 deployments on the USNS Mercy performing surgeries in Singapore, Vietnam, Philippine Islands, and was the mission commander of the Papua, New Guinea mission.

Before retiring from the USN, I started to become very aware of the alcohol and drugs that our sailors and soldiers use on deployment (for various reasons). My father was also one of these sailors that eventually developed alcohol use disorder. From his stories and the stories of my shipmates and battle buddies, I became very interested in the science of addiction. My Commanding Officer at the time allowed me to moonlight at a nearby methadone clinic. This was the beginning of my career in addiction medicine.

I later became board certified in Addiction Medicine and practiced both OBGYN and Addiction. I retired from the USN to Culpeper, VA where I started the county’s first ever OBOT with our Community Services Board, started treating pregnant women with SUD and incorporating this into a clinic in our town. Through aggressive Narcan distribution and OUD treatment, we were able to decrease our opioid overdose rate between 2016-2018.

It was during this time I also became interested in the Virginia Chapter of ASAM. I served as secretary for two years then president elect in 2020. The only thing that drew me away from serving as president in 2020 was a job opportunity that, to me, was a calling. I was asked to be the Medical Director of the Betty Ford Center and all California sites. I made dramatic changes there and then was promoted to Chief Medical Officer of the Hazelden Betty Ford and our 16 sites across the US. During this time, I also graduated from the University of Virginia with my MBA. However, the highlight of my year was becoming a Distinguished Fellow of ASAM at the most recent ASAM scientific meeting.

 

Candidate Questionnaire Responses

1. What have been your greatest contributions to ASAM or to the field of addiction medicine over the last 10 years?

Starting OBOT in rural Virginia then managing several across the state, using this as a platform to practice and bring awareness to ASAM practice guidelines. 2. Serving as Secretary of VASAM and participating in ASAM on the Hill where I had discussions with our representatives (including Abigail Spanberger) to advance the ASAM interests on behalf of our patients. Later serving as President Elect before taking on medical director at the Betty Ford Center. 3. Partnered with ASAM and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists to prepare digital trainings for providers treating women with SUD. I did this for ASAM, working with their team to create PowerPoint presentations for others to teach across the country. Of note, I also traveled the country teaching this curriculum. 4. Simultaneously, ACOG partnered with ASAM to create an E-learning module to bring awareness to OBGYNs and offered it for CME on their training website. I worked with ACOG to create this product, teaching the fundamentals of addiction the medications involved. 5. In addition to these, I taught the 8-hour Buprenorphine Waiver Training course, performing at least 50 training with ASAM, ACOG, AAAP and Project Echo. 6. My latest efforts to advance the position of ASAM for the treatment of Tobacco Use Disorder was co-authoring a guide, “Integrating Tobacco Use Disorder Interventions in Addiction Treatment” which was published by ASAM a few months ago.

2. How would your election to the ASAM Board of Directors benefit ASAM and the field of addiction medicine?

If elected to the Board of Directors, I would bring the unique skills set of obstetrics gynecology and a deep understanding of treatment as a medical director and chief medical officer of a very large organization of treatment facilities. Within this large organization, I hope to leverage my contacts with multiple treatment modalities, opportunity for research and broaden the scope to deliver the message of ASAM positions.

In addition to the treatment of special populations such as pregnant people, I bring the perspective of the veteran community and their treatment with SUD. This seems like a potential area to explore and if ASAM enters this space, I will be able to provide prospective and leverage contacts from multiple military treatment facilities. Lastly, I am a seasoned speaker and presenter. In my current capacity, I speak on SUD advocacy issues to decrease stigma, discuss best practice patterns and represent my position in a refined manner. I would carry this into the BOD position and would relish the opportunity to engage public policy or government matters as it pertains to ASAM needs.