About Us

Candidate for Vice-President

Biography and Statement

Yngvild K. Olsen, MD, MPH, FASAM

1. How would your election benefit ASAM and the field of addiction medicine?

This is a time unlike any other for our field. The opioid crisis has put addiction on the front page, commanding attention as never before. The search for answers has created enormous opportunities for addiction medicine physicians to provide critical leadership to our nation on all aspects of effective addiction prevention, treatment, and recovery.

At this critical moment, I can help position ASAM and our field to be a guiding force for positive change. Across the country, hospitals, physician groups, payers, policymakers, and even the criminal justice system are recognizing the need for effective approaches. I am able to make the case for smart policy by countering the stigma and misunderstanding associated with substance use disorders, by communicating effectively about basic and clinical research, and by speaking from the perspective of a clinician.

I would actively engage with others across ASAM in this work as I know that it takes strong teamwork to effectively make change happen. The time is right to change the nation’s understanding of addiction and recovery, and to promote and implement effective and well-funded strategies to prevent and treat substance use disorders. I would embrace the opportunity to put my experience and commitment to work to accomplish these goals.

2. What are your greatest contributions to ASAM and the field of addiction medicine?

As an internist specializing in addiction medicine, I have devoted my career to addressing the needs of complex, often stigmatized, patients who suffer from substance use disorders and multiple medical and mental health conditions. My work has spanned direct clinical care, program development, education, and policy and advocacy at the local, state, and national levels. At Johns Hopkins, I established an early substance use disorder consultation service on the medical and psychiatric floors and expanded an integrated day program for medically and psychiatrically complex patients with addiction.

As a local deputy health officer in charge of a county’s treatment system, I reformed the system of care to prioritize high-quality, evidence-based services. In Baltimore City, I led the transformation of the treatment system from primarily grant-funded programs to a system of care supported by insurance reimbursement. This required close coordination between the medical and behavioral health systems and the development of new models for effective and non-stigmatizing care.

Now, I am the medical director of a comprehensive outpatient addiction treatment program that provides pharmacotherapy, an array of behavioral interventions, and health home services. We serve as a teaching site for medical residents, nursing students, and social work interns, and have begun a collaborative care network with primary care practices for complex patients with addiction.

I am also a strong advocate for patients and the field of addiction medicine. In 2014, I wrote an article in JAMA calling for an end to the stigma on patients suffering from addiction – as well as on the treatments that can save their lives. As a longtime ASAM member, Past President of the Maryland Society of Addiction Medicine, and ASAM’s clinical expert to the PCSS-MAT consortium, I regularly participate in professional events, workgroups, and lectures.

As a current ASAM Board member and its Secretary, and as past Chair of ASAM’s Public Policy Committee, I have experience with the many different aspects of the organization and its work both internally and externally. I bring experience from my work as Medical Consultant to Baltimore City and the Maryland Behavioral Health Administration to further access to and provision of high-quality patient care.

Through all of my activities, I have kept a focus on high-quality patient care in a rapidly changing health care system. I feel the greatest pride in helping my patients as they regain control of their lives. Speaking from this experience, and on behalf of so many dedicated addiction medicine physicians, will allow me to keep the important role of addiction medicine physicians front and center in the critical time ahead.

Biographical Sketch

Yngvild Olsen, MD, MPH is the Medical Director of the Institutes for Behavior Resources Inc/REACH Health Services, a comprehensive outpatient addiction treatment center in Baltimore City. She completed medical training at Harvard Medical School, and internal medicine residency with an additional year as Primary Care Chief Resident at the Boston Medical Center.

She received a Master’s in Public Health from the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health as part of a fellowship in General Internal Medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. After graduating from the fellowship, she served as Medical Director for Johns Hopkins Hospital’s outpatient substance use treatment services.

Dr. Olsen has substantial experience with a variety of local, state, and federal policy issues. She has previously served as the Vice President of Clinical Affairs for the Baltimore Substance Abuse Systems, the organization overseeing addiction treatment in Baltimore City and as the Deputy Health Officer in Harford County, Maryland. She currently provides medical consultation to Baltimore City and to the Maryland Behavioral Health Administration.

Dr. Olsen serves as Secretary for the American Society of Addiction Medicine following a term as Chair of the organization’s Public Policy Committee. Her advocacy work includes efforts to counter stigma, improve reimbursement policy, and enhance quality of care through service to multiple addiction-related organizations. For this work, she received the Dole-Nyswander award from the American Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence in 2015.

Yngvild K. Olsen, MD, MPH, FASAM