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Psychiatrist Finds Vast Field of Addiction Medicine Fascinating, Rewarding

by | Nov 01, 2021

After he realized he wanted to become a psychiatrist, Nicholas Athanasiou, MD, MBA, DFASAM, planned to study either general or forensic psychiatry. However, when a future mentor inspired him to explore addiction medicine, everything changed.

The more Dr. Athanasiou looked into the field, the more he felt at home.

“I really enjoyed the population,” he said. “There’s a sense of community with both patients and colleagues in the field of addiction medicine that I find very rewarding to be a part of.”

Today, Dr. Athanasiou is an Addiction Psychiatrist with the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health. He is also a Health Sciences Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at UCLA. 

As a faculty member of the UCLA Olive View Psychiatry Residency Program, he works to enhance education for psychiatric residents and trainees in the field of addiction medicine. His clinical focus is treating individuals with co-occurring psychiatric and substance use disorders in an outpatient setting.

After several years in the field, Dr. Athanasiou said he’s still amazed at how vast the field of addiction medicine is.

“It touches on so many aspects of humanity and society – things that are not strictly medicine or science,” he said. “It tells us a lot about what it means to be a person. The mechanisms involved in addiction are important to behavior itself. It has given me a different framework for understanding life in general. There’s always something interesting around the corner. There's always something new that we're learning.”

Dr. Athanasiou said there are numerous clinical reasons why he finds addiction medicine to be so rewarding.

“Clinically, what I like is the patient-doctor relationship,” he said. “It’s an important cornerstone of psychiatry, but I find in addiction it's even more so because of the nature of the illness and frequency of the visits. I’m closely involved in the continuity of my patients’ care and their overall wellbeing.”

He also enjoys the many inspiring ways patients work to overcome their addiction.

“Of course, there are sad outcomes but there are a lot of great stories about resilience,” he added.

Dr. Athanasiou feels he has helped some patients change their lives dramatically, but he also considers the smaller everyday victories he shares with patients to be incredibly valuable. “When they show you pictures of their kids, when they invite you into their lives like that, that’s always nice to be a part of,” he said. "They’re proud that they’re doing well, you’re happy to see that they are.”

Above all, he enjoys seeing patients progress in life despite the illness of addiction.

Dr. Athanasiou is Editor-in-Chief of the ASAM Weekly, Chair of the ASAM Publications Council, and member of the ASAM Board of Directors. He also serves on the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology’s Addiction Psychiatry Examination Writing Committee.

A graduate of the UC Irvine School of Medicine’s combined MD/MBA program, Dr. Athanasiou completed his residency training in Psychiatry at the UCLA – San Fernando Valley Psychiatry Training Program. In 2013, he finished his fellowship training in Addiction Psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He also served as Associate Director for two Addiction Psychiatry fellowship programs and has published and presented on the topic of improving education in addiction medicine.

Dr. Athanasiou first connected with ASAM through the California Society of Addiction Medicine (CSAM). The connection solidified his interest in the field.

"You really get to meet different professionals,” he said. “I was really impressed with the collective sense of dedication to a shared mission.”

He said being involved in ASAM has benefited his career development in many ways.

“The network of ASAM is truly valuable,” he said. “It’s a large organization including the top people in the field. That’s ultimately the significance of the organization – many talented people.”

Dr. Athanasiou said psychiatrists and other members of ASAM should volunteer their time to contribute to the Society and, therefore, the field as a whole.

“ASAM is a great fit for psychiatrists because it helps you see the true vastness of the field, the multidisciplinary aspect of it,” he said. “It keeps you aware of what’s going on in other areas of addiction medicine.”

Dr. Athanasiou added that other psychiatrists and physicians outside of addiction medicine should consider entering the field. “It’s a growing and very fascinating field where you can learn a lot from the science, your colleagues, and your patients.”

Advocacy and Policy

Psychiatrist Finds Vast Field of Addiction Medicine Fascinating, Rewarding

by | Nov 01, 2021

After he realized he wanted to become a psychiatrist, Nicholas Athanasiou, MD, MBA, DFASAM, planned to study either general or forensic psychiatry. However, when a future mentor inspired him to explore addiction medicine, everything changed.

The more Dr. Athanasiou looked into the field, the more he felt at home.

“I really enjoyed the population,” he said. “There’s a sense of community with both patients and colleagues in the field of addiction medicine that I find very rewarding to be a part of.”

Today, Dr. Athanasiou is an Addiction Psychiatrist with the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health. He is also a Health Sciences Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at UCLA. 

As a faculty member of the UCLA Olive View Psychiatry Residency Program, he works to enhance education for psychiatric residents and trainees in the field of addiction medicine. His clinical focus is treating individuals with co-occurring psychiatric and substance use disorders in an outpatient setting.

After several years in the field, Dr. Athanasiou said he’s still amazed at how vast the field of addiction medicine is.

“It touches on so many aspects of humanity and society – things that are not strictly medicine or science,” he said. “It tells us a lot about what it means to be a person. The mechanisms involved in addiction are important to behavior itself. It has given me a different framework for understanding life in general. There’s always something interesting around the corner. There's always something new that we're learning.”

Dr. Athanasiou said there are numerous clinical reasons why he finds addiction medicine to be so rewarding.

“Clinically, what I like is the patient-doctor relationship,” he said. “It’s an important cornerstone of psychiatry, but I find in addiction it's even more so because of the nature of the illness and frequency of the visits. I’m closely involved in the continuity of my patients’ care and their overall wellbeing.”

He also enjoys the many inspiring ways patients work to overcome their addiction.

“Of course, there are sad outcomes but there are a lot of great stories about resilience,” he added.

Dr. Athanasiou feels he has helped some patients change their lives dramatically, but he also considers the smaller everyday victories he shares with patients to be incredibly valuable. “When they show you pictures of their kids, when they invite you into their lives like that, that’s always nice to be a part of,” he said. "They’re proud that they’re doing well, you’re happy to see that they are.”

Above all, he enjoys seeing patients progress in life despite the illness of addiction.

Dr. Athanasiou is Editor-in-Chief of the ASAM Weekly, Chair of the ASAM Publications Council, and member of the ASAM Board of Directors. He also serves on the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology’s Addiction Psychiatry Examination Writing Committee.

A graduate of the UC Irvine School of Medicine’s combined MD/MBA program, Dr. Athanasiou completed his residency training in Psychiatry at the UCLA – San Fernando Valley Psychiatry Training Program. In 2013, he finished his fellowship training in Addiction Psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He also served as Associate Director for two Addiction Psychiatry fellowship programs and has published and presented on the topic of improving education in addiction medicine.

Dr. Athanasiou first connected with ASAM through the California Society of Addiction Medicine (CSAM). The connection solidified his interest in the field.

"You really get to meet different professionals,” he said. “I was really impressed with the collective sense of dedication to a shared mission.”

He said being involved in ASAM has benefited his career development in many ways.

“The network of ASAM is truly valuable,” he said. “It’s a large organization including the top people in the field. That’s ultimately the significance of the organization – many talented people.”

Dr. Athanasiou said psychiatrists and other members of ASAM should volunteer their time to contribute to the Society and, therefore, the field as a whole.

“ASAM is a great fit for psychiatrists because it helps you see the true vastness of the field, the multidisciplinary aspect of it,” he said. “It keeps you aware of what’s going on in other areas of addiction medicine.”

Dr. Athanasiou added that other psychiatrists and physicians outside of addiction medicine should consider entering the field. “It’s a growing and very fascinating field where you can learn a lot from the science, your colleagues, and your patients.”

Quality & Science

Psychiatrist Finds Vast Field of Addiction Medicine Fascinating, Rewarding

by | Nov 01, 2021

After he realized he wanted to become a psychiatrist, Nicholas Athanasiou, MD, MBA, DFASAM, planned to study either general or forensic psychiatry. However, when a future mentor inspired him to explore addiction medicine, everything changed.

The more Dr. Athanasiou looked into the field, the more he felt at home.

“I really enjoyed the population,” he said. “There’s a sense of community with both patients and colleagues in the field of addiction medicine that I find very rewarding to be a part of.”

Today, Dr. Athanasiou is an Addiction Psychiatrist with the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health. He is also a Health Sciences Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at UCLA. 

As a faculty member of the UCLA Olive View Psychiatry Residency Program, he works to enhance education for psychiatric residents and trainees in the field of addiction medicine. His clinical focus is treating individuals with co-occurring psychiatric and substance use disorders in an outpatient setting.

After several years in the field, Dr. Athanasiou said he’s still amazed at how vast the field of addiction medicine is.

“It touches on so many aspects of humanity and society – things that are not strictly medicine or science,” he said. “It tells us a lot about what it means to be a person. The mechanisms involved in addiction are important to behavior itself. It has given me a different framework for understanding life in general. There’s always something interesting around the corner. There's always something new that we're learning.”

Dr. Athanasiou said there are numerous clinical reasons why he finds addiction medicine to be so rewarding.

“Clinically, what I like is the patient-doctor relationship,” he said. “It’s an important cornerstone of psychiatry, but I find in addiction it's even more so because of the nature of the illness and frequency of the visits. I’m closely involved in the continuity of my patients’ care and their overall wellbeing.”

He also enjoys the many inspiring ways patients work to overcome their addiction.

“Of course, there are sad outcomes but there are a lot of great stories about resilience,” he added.

Dr. Athanasiou feels he has helped some patients change their lives dramatically, but he also considers the smaller everyday victories he shares with patients to be incredibly valuable. “When they show you pictures of their kids, when they invite you into their lives like that, that’s always nice to be a part of,” he said. "They’re proud that they’re doing well, you’re happy to see that they are.”

Above all, he enjoys seeing patients progress in life despite the illness of addiction.

Dr. Athanasiou is Editor-in-Chief of the ASAM Weekly, Chair of the ASAM Publications Council, and member of the ASAM Board of Directors. He also serves on the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology’s Addiction Psychiatry Examination Writing Committee.

A graduate of the UC Irvine School of Medicine’s combined MD/MBA program, Dr. Athanasiou completed his residency training in Psychiatry at the UCLA – San Fernando Valley Psychiatry Training Program. In 2013, he finished his fellowship training in Addiction Psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He also served as Associate Director for two Addiction Psychiatry fellowship programs and has published and presented on the topic of improving education in addiction medicine.

Dr. Athanasiou first connected with ASAM through the California Society of Addiction Medicine (CSAM). The connection solidified his interest in the field.

"You really get to meet different professionals,” he said. “I was really impressed with the collective sense of dedication to a shared mission.”

He said being involved in ASAM has benefited his career development in many ways.

“The network of ASAM is truly valuable,” he said. “It’s a large organization including the top people in the field. That’s ultimately the significance of the organization – many talented people.”

Dr. Athanasiou said psychiatrists and other members of ASAM should volunteer their time to contribute to the Society and, therefore, the field as a whole.

“ASAM is a great fit for psychiatrists because it helps you see the true vastness of the field, the multidisciplinary aspect of it,” he said. “It keeps you aware of what’s going on in other areas of addiction medicine.”

Dr. Athanasiou added that other psychiatrists and physicians outside of addiction medicine should consider entering the field. “It’s a growing and very fascinating field where you can learn a lot from the science, your colleagues, and your patients.”

Education

Psychiatrist Finds Vast Field of Addiction Medicine Fascinating, Rewarding

by | Nov 01, 2021

After he realized he wanted to become a psychiatrist, Nicholas Athanasiou, MD, MBA, DFASAM, planned to study either general or forensic psychiatry. However, when a future mentor inspired him to explore addiction medicine, everything changed.

The more Dr. Athanasiou looked into the field, the more he felt at home.

“I really enjoyed the population,” he said. “There’s a sense of community with both patients and colleagues in the field of addiction medicine that I find very rewarding to be a part of.”

Today, Dr. Athanasiou is an Addiction Psychiatrist with the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health. He is also a Health Sciences Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at UCLA. 

As a faculty member of the UCLA Olive View Psychiatry Residency Program, he works to enhance education for psychiatric residents and trainees in the field of addiction medicine. His clinical focus is treating individuals with co-occurring psychiatric and substance use disorders in an outpatient setting.

After several years in the field, Dr. Athanasiou said he’s still amazed at how vast the field of addiction medicine is.

“It touches on so many aspects of humanity and society – things that are not strictly medicine or science,” he said. “It tells us a lot about what it means to be a person. The mechanisms involved in addiction are important to behavior itself. It has given me a different framework for understanding life in general. There’s always something interesting around the corner. There's always something new that we're learning.”

Dr. Athanasiou said there are numerous clinical reasons why he finds addiction medicine to be so rewarding.

“Clinically, what I like is the patient-doctor relationship,” he said. “It’s an important cornerstone of psychiatry, but I find in addiction it's even more so because of the nature of the illness and frequency of the visits. I’m closely involved in the continuity of my patients’ care and their overall wellbeing.”

He also enjoys the many inspiring ways patients work to overcome their addiction.

“Of course, there are sad outcomes but there are a lot of great stories about resilience,” he added.

Dr. Athanasiou feels he has helped some patients change their lives dramatically, but he also considers the smaller everyday victories he shares with patients to be incredibly valuable. “When they show you pictures of their kids, when they invite you into their lives like that, that’s always nice to be a part of,” he said. "They’re proud that they’re doing well, you’re happy to see that they are.”

Above all, he enjoys seeing patients progress in life despite the illness of addiction.

Dr. Athanasiou is Editor-in-Chief of the ASAM Weekly, Chair of the ASAM Publications Council, and member of the ASAM Board of Directors. He also serves on the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology’s Addiction Psychiatry Examination Writing Committee.

A graduate of the UC Irvine School of Medicine’s combined MD/MBA program, Dr. Athanasiou completed his residency training in Psychiatry at the UCLA – San Fernando Valley Psychiatry Training Program. In 2013, he finished his fellowship training in Addiction Psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He also served as Associate Director for two Addiction Psychiatry fellowship programs and has published and presented on the topic of improving education in addiction medicine.

Dr. Athanasiou first connected with ASAM through the California Society of Addiction Medicine (CSAM). The connection solidified his interest in the field.

"You really get to meet different professionals,” he said. “I was really impressed with the collective sense of dedication to a shared mission.”

He said being involved in ASAM has benefited his career development in many ways.

“The network of ASAM is truly valuable,” he said. “It’s a large organization including the top people in the field. That’s ultimately the significance of the organization – many talented people.”

Dr. Athanasiou said psychiatrists and other members of ASAM should volunteer their time to contribute to the Society and, therefore, the field as a whole.

“ASAM is a great fit for psychiatrists because it helps you see the true vastness of the field, the multidisciplinary aspect of it,” he said. “It keeps you aware of what’s going on in other areas of addiction medicine.”

Dr. Athanasiou added that other psychiatrists and physicians outside of addiction medicine should consider entering the field. “It’s a growing and very fascinating field where you can learn a lot from the science, your colleagues, and your patients.”

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Physicians who have a primary ABMS board may apply to take the ABPM Addiction Medicine exam to become or continue to be an addiction medicine specialist. Get the latest updates click here.


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