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UT Center for Addiction Sciences Named Center of Excellence

The University of Tennessee College of Medicine's Center for Addiction Science has been named a Center of Excellence in Addiction Medicine - the first in the country, UT said Monday.

The national Addiction Medicine Foundation bestowed the recognition on the Memphis-based center, which was founded to address the untreated addiction epidemic not only in Memphis, but throughout the state and country.

The center provides clinical treatment services including cognitive behavior therapy, medication-assisted treatment, motivational enhancement therapy, and facilitating 12-step programs for various groups. It uses evidence-based treatment interventions, said Dr. David Stern, dean of the College of Medicine and vice chancellor for clinical affairs at UT Health Science Center in Memphis.

The center also trains doctors to offer alternative forms of pain management over opioids -- addressed by U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy earlier this year. In addition, a new addiction medicine fellowship trains doctors and healthcare professionals to better recognize, diagnose, treat and prevent addiction.

Research at the center deals with issues around addiction, particularly neonatal abstinence syndrome, which affects newborns exposed to addictive drugs before birth.

In Tennessee, more than 1,263 people died from opioid overdose in 2014. A recent federal study found the number of U.S. adults using prescription painkillers now exceeds those who use tobacco: 37.8 percent, compared to 31.1 percent.

Dr. Kevin Kunz, executive vice president of the Addiction Medicine Foundation, said UT's center "has emerged as the nation's first integrated model. ... There are locations and fellowships where all the elements exist, yet not in a unified fashion and not interactive. These components, even when they all exist at one institution, are often silos of excellence. UT College of Medicine's Center for Addiction Science offers all the necessary elements for success, and will serve as a model for future centers across the country."

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