The Medical Profession, Moral Entrepreneurship, Moral Panics, and Social Control

Blind-faith and unquestioning allegiance to expert authority deflects scrutiny and analysis. Few red flags are raised as this type of moral preening promotes misguided plausibility and complacency in the belief that these are indeed experts with good intentions. This needs to be addressed.

But if you look at any of the current “moral panics” that are being used to suggest random suspicion-less drug testing of doctors or promoting the Physician Health Programs as successful and replicable models, you will inevitably find a doctor on this list behind it. It is a given.

And the invitation goes out to Seppala to debate this in a public forum on a level playing field. Not gonna happen because it would be impossible for him to address and answer the questions rationally, directly and with any tiny scrap of evidence based data.ByQiW11IYAI2Cit


Disrupted Physician

The Medical Profession, Moral Entrepreneurship, Moral Panics, and Social Control.

 “Few, no matter how desperate, seek help of their own accord.”  says Dr. Marv Seppala, M.D., Chief Medical Officer at Hazelden, one of the “PHP-approved” drug and alcohol assessment and treatment centers located in Center City, Minnesota.  “Physicians are intelligent and skilled at hiding their addictions.”

“They’re often described as the best workers in the hospital,” he says. “They’ll overwork to compensate for other ways in which they may be falling short, and to protect their supply. They’ll sign up for extra call and show up for rounds they don’t have to do.”

In reality this is ludicrous–knee slapping absurd.   If the results of this authoritative opinion were not so dire these statements would, in fact, be comical.   Such is not the case, however, and opinions like Seppala’s have been taken at face value and, as a result, the aftermath has…

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The Brain Disease Model of Addiction: is it Supported by the Evidence and has it Delivered on its Promises?

Dr. Allwissend 01

The brain disease model of addiction: is it supported by the evidence and has it delivered on its promises?

Prof Wayne Hall, PhD
Adrian Carter, PhD
Cynthia Forlini, PhD

Sign up for Lancet Psychiatry to read the full article. An overview is below.

We need a similar critique of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM)  and its affiliates on this side of the Atlantic as “addiction medicine” is slated to be approved  by the  American Board of Medical Specialties in 2016 even though the discipline falls far short of the educational and professional standards for quality practice developed and implemented by all other ABMS member boards.    According to the ABMS these 24 boards are:

“committed to the principle of examining doctors based on six general competencies designed to encompass quality care: patient care, medical knowledge, practice-based learning and improvement, interpersonal and communication skills, professionalism, and systems-based practice.”

These areas have been collectively identified by the ABMS, the American College of Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in order to standardize graduate medical education.

Any critique of the ASAM would find a number of issues antithetical to the six general competencies which stress “learning and improvement.”   In contrast the ASAM rests on the conviction that their views are absolutely certain and patently rejects open-minded inquiry.  An academic analysis of addiction medicine  from the vantage point of the ASAM would reveal false assumptions, bias, dogmatism, and data-dredging.  It would also reveal that those claiming expertise are in fact illegitimate and irrational authority who believe in an ends-justifies-the-means approach to push forth the chronic relapsing brain disease with lifelong abstinence an d imposed 12-step recovery. These are false experts who rationalize unethical, unprofessional and even criminal behavior as zeal for the faith if it aligns with the brain disease model of addiction (BDMA)   Their viewpoints are fixed and final.

They have not been held to truly objective judging, analysis, evaluation or outside critique.  The purpose of critique is the same as the purpose of critical thinking: to appreciate strengths as well as weaknesses, virtues as well as failings. Critical thinkers critique in order to redesign, remodel, and make better. This direly needs to be done.  The evidence-base for both the BDMA and the drug and alcohol testing, assessment and treatment is poor.     They are claiming physician health programs are the crown jewel of addiction treatment– a replicable model to be replicated in other populations.  It is all hyperbole and propaganda.  In reality they are using medical assessment and treatment as tools to repress and punish doctors.  Those running the state physician health programs are typically morally disengaged bullies with Machiavellian egocentricity.   And all the congratulatory backslapping is based on a singe poorly designed opinion piece.

Science and medicine need to be predicated on competence, thoughtfulness, good faith, civility, honesty, and integrity. This is universally applicable.  What they are doing betrays the trust of society and breaches the most basic ethical obligations of not only doctors but human beings.

But no one seems to be challenging them. Why is no one questioning this self-appointed authority. If people do not start talking, writing, discussing and debating the current paradigm then what Robert Dupont describes in the ASAM White Paper on Drug Testing will be ushered in.  As with doctors you won’t know it until it hits you.    If the ASAM becomes an ABMS medical specialty then it will be too late. They will impose their authority on you as a patient and their won’t be a damn thing you will be able to do about it.

Once illegitimate and irrational authority are sanctified by the American Board of Medical Specialties there will be nothing left to do except watch the profession of medicine go up in flames.

Right now it’s just doctors and pilots.   What you need to see is that you are next.  I base that prediction on past public-policy, regulatory, administrative and medical practice tinkering as well as the documented paper trail of “research” and opinion. And even though all of this can be explained using documentary evidence, fact and critical analysis no one seems alarmed.

If you map it out you will see the trajectory is aimed at the transportation industry,  students with federal loans,  high school athletes, schools, gun owners, and eventually schools.

If you have something to lose that is affiliated with a state or federal agency they will hold it hostage if you get a positive hair, nail, sweat blood, or urine test at your doctors visit.    The positive test is the golden ticket for them and a ticket to an assessment facility in Kansas, Arkansas, Mississippi and some other places for you on your dime.    And these are one-way tickets. No return to normality available.  One way ticket.    No return flight.

See full article through the following link:

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Proponents of the brain disease model of addiction (BDMA) have been very influential in setting the funding priorities of NIDA, and by extension the bulk of publicly supported research on addiction. In 1998, Leshner testified that NIDA supports more than 85% of the world’s research on drug abuse and addiction.3 The American Society of Addiction Medicine has defined addiction as a “primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory, and related circuitry”.4 In July, 2014, newly appointed Acting Director of US National Drug Control Policy, Michael Botticelli, launched a reformist strategy nationally, claiming decades of research have demonstrated that addiction is a brain disorder—one that can be prevented and treated.5 The BDMA has also been widely discussed in leading scientific research journals3, 6 and most recently in a positive editorial in Nature.7

In the USA, proponents of the BDMA have argued that it will help to deliver more effective medical treatments for addiction with the cost covered by health insurance, making treatment more accessible for people with addictions.1, 2, 6 An increased acceptance of the BDMA is also predicted to reduce the stigma associated with drug addiction by replacing the commonly held notion that people with drug addiction are weak or bad with a more scientific viewpoint that depicts them as having a brain disease that needs medical treatment.

In this Personal View, we critically assess the scientific evidence for the BDMA reported in leading general scientific journals and the extent of the social benefits that advocates of the BDMA claim it has produced, or is likely to produce, with its widespread acceptance among clinicians, policy makers, and the public. The BDMA is not co-extensive with neuroscience-based explanations of addiction. This review is not intended as a critique of all neuroscience research on addiction. We focus instead on the popular simplification of work in this specialty that has had a major influence on popular discourse on addiction in scientific journals and mainstream media.


Considerable scientific value exists in the research into the neurobiology and genetics of addiction, but this research does not justify the simplified BDMA that dominates discourse about addiction in the USA and, increasingly, elsewhere. Editors of Nature were mistaken in their assumption that the BDMA represents the consensus view in the addictions specialty,7 as shown by a letter signed by 94 addiction researchers and clinicians (including one of the authors of this Personal View).74Understanding of addiction, and the policies adopted to treat and prevent problem drug use, should give biology its due, but no more than it is due. Chronic drug use can affect brain systems in ways that might make cessation more difficult for some people. Economic, epidemiological, and social scientific evidence shows that the neurobiology of addiction should not be the over-riding factor when formulating policies toward drug use and addiction.

The BDMA has not helped to deliver the effective treatments for addiction that were originally promised by Leshner and its effect on public health policies toward drug addiction has been modest. Arguably, the advocacy of the BDMA led to overinvestment by US research agencies in biological interventions to cure addiction that will have little effect on drug addiction as a public health issue. Increased access to more effective treatment for addiction is a worthy aim that we support but this aim should not be pursued at the expense of simple, cost effective, and efficient population-based policies to discourage the whole population from smoking tobacco and drinking heavily. Nor should the pursuit of high technology cures distract from the task of increasing access to available psychosocial and drug treatments for addiction, which most people with addictive disorder are still unable to access.

Our rejection of the BDMA is not intended as a defence of the moral model of addiction.65 We share many of the aspirations of those who advocate the BDMA, especially the delivery of more effective treatment and less punitive responses to people with addiction issues. Addiction is a complex biological, psychological, and social disorder that needs to be addressed by various clinical and public health approaches.65 Research into the neuroscience of addiction has provided insights into the neurobiology of decision-making, motivation, and behavioural control in addiction. Chronic use of addictive drugs can impair cognitive and motivational processes and might partly explain why some people are more susceptible than others to developing an addiction. The challenge for all addiction researchers—including neurobiologists—is to integrate emerging insights from neuroscience research with those from economics, epidemiology, sociology, psychology, and political science to decrease the harms caused by drug misuse and all forms of addiction.46



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Physician Suicide, Organizational Justice and the “Cry of pain” Model: Hopelessness, Helplessness and Defeat

tireddoctorAccording to Talbott, “impaired doctors must first acknowledge their addiction and overcome their ‘terminal uniqueness’ before they can deal with a drug or alcohol problem.” “Terminal uniqueness “ is a phrase Talbott uses to describe doctors’ tendency to think they can heal themselves. “M-Deity” refers to doctors “being trained to think they’re God,” an unfounded generalization considering the vast diversity of individuals that make up our profession. This attitude, according to some critics, stems from the personal histories of the treatment staff, including Talbott, who are recovering alcoholics and addicts themselves. One such critic was Assistant Surgeon General under C. Everett Koop John C. Duffy who said that Ridgeview suffered from a “boot-camp mentality” toward physicians under their care and “assume every physician suffering from substance abuse is the same lying, stealing, cheating, manipulating individual they were when they had the illness. Certainly some physicians are manipulative, but it’s naïve to label all physicians with these problems.”

Disrupted Physician

They can be a terror to your mind and show you how to hold your tongue
They got mystery written all over their forehead
They kill babies in the crib and say only the good die young
They don’t believe in mercy
Judgement on them is something that you’ll never see
They can exalt you up or bring you down main route
Turn you into anything that they want you to be–Bob Dylan, Foot of Pride

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Although no reliable statistics yet exist, anecdotal reports suggest a marked rise in physician suicide in recent years. From the reports I am receiving it is a lot more than the oft cited “medical school class” of 400 per year.

This necessitates an evaluation of predisposing risk factors such as substance abuse and depression, but also requires a critical examination of what external forces may be involved in the descent from suicidal ideation to suicidal…

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Disrupted Physician 101.4–The “Impaired Physician Movement” takeover of State Physician Health Programs

These ASAM “addiction experts” have become so numerous they have been able to take over almost all the state Physician Health Programs (PHPs). Their national association—the Federation of State Physician Health Programs (FSPHP)–has a stated goal of universal acceptance of the 12-step doctrine: lifelong abstinence, and spiritual recovery as the one and only treatment, as spelled out in the “PHP Blueprint.”

Very much like Straight, Inc in the 70s and 80s, they have cast a wide net with doctors to ensnare them in an endless loop of drug testing and rehab—whether the tests are fabricated or not. The doctors will enjoy no sympathy from the public, and complaining about it is deemed a sign of your “disease.” Furthermore, ASAM recommends that physicians only be referred to “PHP approved” facilities.

The medical directors of these facilities can all be found on this list of ”Like-Minded Docs.” Surprisingly, many Like-Minded Docs were former addicts and alcoholics, some even with criminal backgrounds. There are felons and even double-felons on the list.

It’s a rehab shell game. Heads I win tails you lose.

And the program is expanding. The organization that oversees the licensing for all medical doctors, the Federation of State Medical Boards, adopted a new policy and approved the concept of “potentially impairing illness” and the Orwellian notion of “relapse without use.”

Signals for “impairment can be as benign as not having “complete accurate, and up-to-date patient medical records” according to Physician Health Services, the Massachusetts PHP. Despite the overwhelming amount of paperwork Doctors now have, incomplete or illegible records could be construed as a red flag, since as Associate Direct of PHS Judith Eaton notes “when something so necessary is not getting done, it is prudent to explore what else might be going on.” The question is, who is next?”

Disrupted Physician

Forget what you see
Some things they just change invisibly–Elliott Smith


Physician Impairment

The Sick Physician: Impairment by Psychiatric Disorders, Including Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, published by the American Medical Association’s (AMA) Council on Mental Health in The Journal of the American Medical Association in 1973,1 recommended that physicians do a better job of helping colleagues impaired by mental illness, alcoholism or drug dependence. The AMA defined an “impaired physician” as “a physician who is unable to practice medicine with reasonable skill and safety to patients because of mental illness or excessive use or abuse of drugs, including alcohol.”

Recognition of physician impairment in the 1970s by both the medical community and the general public led to the development of “impaired physician” programs with the purpose of both helping impaired doctors and protecting the public from them.

IMG_1010The 1975 media coverage of the deaths of Drs. Stewart and…

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Bent Science and Bad Medicine: The Medical Profession, Moral Entrepreneurship and Social Control

IMG_9005The Medical Profession, Moral Entrepreneurship, and Social Control

Sociologist Stanley Cohen  used the term “”moral panic” to characterize the amplification of deviance by the media, the public, and agents of social control.1  Labeled as being outside the central core values of consensual society, the deviants in the designated group are perceived as posing a threat to both the values of society and society itself.   Belief in the seriousness of the situation justifies intolerance and unfair treatment of the accused.   The evidentiary standard is lowered.

Howard Becker describes the role of “moral entrepreneurs,” who crusade for making and enforcing rules that benefit their own interests by bringing them to the attention of the public and those in positions of power and authority under the guise of righting a society evil. 2

And according to cultural theorist Stuart Hall, the media obtain their information from the primary definers of social reality in authoritative positions and amplify the perceived threat to the existing social order. The authorities then act to eliminate the threat.3  The dominant ideas or ideologies are reproduced by relying on the opinions of the defining authority and then spread through the media. The communal good has been assailed.

As a society governed by organizations, associations,  institutions and regulatory bodies, the medical profession is not immune to “moral panics.”  A threat to patient care or the values of the profession can be identified and amplified.   A buildup of public concern fueled by media attention ensues creating a need for governing bodies to act. Medical Professionalism and the Public Health has been assailed.

Unbeknownst to the general public and most members of the medical profession at large, certain groups have gained tremendous sway within medical society. Through  moral entrepreneurship they have gained authority and become  the primary definers of the governance of the medical profession and the social control of  doctors.  To benefit their own interests they have fostered and fueled “moral panics” and “moral crusades. ” Exhorting authorities to fight these  threats by any means necessary  they have successfully made and enforced rules and  regulations and introduced new definitions and tools with no meaningful resistance or opposition.

The Inquisition did not have to convince  individual citizens or the general public of their beliefs to advance an agenda; just Ecclesiastical and Political Authority.  Similarly, the  “impaired physicians movement” did not have to convince individual doctors or the medical profession of their beliefs  to further a self-serving agenda; just  regulatory and administrative authority.

Addiction Medicine Monopoly, False Authority and Conflicts of Interest

The “impaired physicians movement” can be defined as a group of physicians with alcohol and substance abuse problems who, having found sobriety through 12-step spirituality, banded together to promote the ideology behind their personal  “recovery”  to other doctors and the medical community at large. In the 1980s the movement gained momentum and as their numbers grew  began calling themselves  specialists in “addiction medicine.”  The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM)  is not a true specialty, but a Self-Designated-Practice-Specialty, which simply means that is what they are calling themselves.  It reflects neither knowledge nor expertise..  “Board certification” by the American Board of Addiction Medicine (ABAM) is not recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS).

ABAM certification requires only a medical degree, a valid license to practice medicine, and completion of residency training in ANY specialty.  Addiction Psychiatry, a subspecialty of psychiatry under the American Board of Neurology and Psychiatry  is the only  specialty recognized by the ABMS. and their specialty society is the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry.

The ASAM is schooled in just one one uncompromising model of addiction with the majority attributing their very own sobriety to that model–the chronic relapsing “brain disease” with lifelong abstinence and 12-step spiritual recovery model.   As the “voice of addiction medicine,” the ASAM has nevertheless defined the dominant treatment paradigm in the United States.   ASAM doctors outnumber addiction psychiatrists by 4:1 and the movement is well funded.   Because addiction is defined as a “disease”, addicts must be “treated” (more often coercive than voluntary), and “cured” (defined as abstinent).  The billion dollar  assessment and treatment industry and the drug and alcohol testing industry  lucratively profits from this model which has grown to monopolize addiction treatment  in the United States.

The goal of the ABAM Foundation is to “gain recognition of Addiction Medicine as a medical specialty by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS).”   A monopoly defined by self-appointed experts without recognized  specialty training will soon likely Robber baron their way to being accepted as  a true specialty.Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 8.15.35 AM

Physician Health Programs, Regulatory Agencies, and Treatment Centers

Physician Health Programs (PHPs) meet with, assess, and monitor doctors who have been referred to them for substance use or other mental or behavioral health problems. Unless being monitored by one, PHP practices are unknown to most physicians and operate outside the scrutiny of the medical community.  Initially funded by State Medical Societies and staffed by volunteer physicians,  PHPs  served the dual function of helping sick doctors and protecting the public.

As the populations of ASAM physicians proliferated  in the 1980s, many  joined their state Physician Health Programs. PHP doctors who did not agree with the ASAM groupthink were gradually removed  and they  organized under the Federation of State Physician Health Programs (FSPHP).  Other ASAM physicians found employment at treatment centers as staff physicians and medical directors.

The FSPHP cultivated a relationship with the  Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) and the state PHPs formed alliances with their  state medical boards. Promoting themselves as offering “treatment” rather than”punishment” they offered an alternative to disciplinary action.  They then began promoting their successful outcomes  in rehabilitating “impaired physicians”,  and this history can be seen by examining the archives of the Journal of Medical Regulation and similar  publications.  In 1995 the   Washington  PHP claimed a success rate of  95.4%,   Tennessee  claimed 93% and Alabama 90%.

Part of this success was attributed  to the specialized  treatment centers for doctors directed by their ASAM colleagues such as  Ridgeview Institute in Atlanta created by G. Douglas Talbott.  Talbott, who helped organize and serve as past president of the ASAM claimed a 92.3 percent recovery rate. He also put forth a Medical Urban Legend–the proposition that doctors were a different species, separate from the rest of society, who needed special treatment three times longer than anyone else.  Amazingly, this dicto simpliciter argument that can, in fact, be refuted simply by pointing it out  was allowed to enter regulatory medicine unopposed.  Simply because, sadly, no one ever pointed out the logical fallacy. It is now entrenched.    Three months or more of treatment is  standard of care for our profession. They did this by getting medical boards and the FSMB to accept fantasy as fact by relying on board members tendency to accept expert evidence at face value.

Physicians are unique only insofar as the unique elements required of the profession to become and be a physician such as going to medical school and completing the required board examinations.  That’s it.    I implore anyone to put forth any sound argument based on science and evidence that justifies a thrice lengthy stay in medical professionals.  Not gonna happen.   Thought stopping memes and logical fallacy is the best they have to offer.  And, unfortunately this type of  rabbling gibberish cuts the mustard in the regulatory medicine venue.   A “low-bar” evidentiary standard is not the problem.  If you look at the documentary evidence from a medico-historical perspective there never was a bar.  The FSMB has essentially given the impaired physicians movement carte blanche authority and unrestrained managerial prerogative.  A bar never even existed.  It’s a laissez-faire Lord of the Flies free-for-all.    The logical fallacy of appeal to authority–illegitimate and irrational authority.  Bamboozled by smoke and mirrors.

A 1995 issue of the FSMB publication  The Federal Bulletin: The Journal of Medical Licensure and Discipline contains reports on eight  separate state  PHPs.   The “almost 90% success rate” was  applauded by the editor, who added  “cooperation and communication between the medical boards and the physician health programs must occur in an effort to protect the public while assisting impaired physicians in their recovery.”   And more recent reports suggest PHPs   reduce malpractice claims. They are now being promoted as a replicable model  to be used in other populations.

The problem is no one bothered to examine the methodology to discern the validity of these claims.  There has been no critical analysis or Cochrane type review of any of these studies which are invariably small, methodologically flawed, and biased.

The FSMB has accepted them as  expert authority and  their authoritative opinion as fact.  It  is this acceptance of faith without objective assessment that has allowed the ASAM and FSPH to advance their agenda. By  confusing ideological opinion  with professional knowledge, the FSMB and state Medical Boards have acted as willing gulls each step of the way. No counter-forces existed.  And they still don’t.   Junk science and unvalidated neuropsychological testing is used by these groups unconstrained and willfully.  There is no regulation, oversight, or accountability.  They are using polygraph testing (despite the AMA’s previous public policy statement deeming it junk) to both condemn “disruptive” surgeons and deem convicted pedophiles fit to return to work.  They have introduced junk-science in drug and alcohol testing and unvalidated “neuropsychological” testing to detect “character-defects” by getting regulatory agencies to accept the validity of these tests not by the Scientific Method or Evidence Based Research but by (to coin a term) “Regulatory Sanctification”

To paraphrase one FSPHP member,   “Who needs evidence-based medicine when the boards have already accepted these tests as valid?”  Who indeed?

The ideological bias and financial conflicts of interest between PHPs and the  treatment centers was also not recognized. It still isn’t.  The  spotlights are apparently all  on Big Pharma  in this regard.    Some sunlight needs to be exposed in the direction of the billion dollar drug and alcohol testing and assessment industry as well.

Doctors  were held at Ridgeview three times longer than the rest of the population (and at three times the cost)  under threat of loss of licensure.   Although there is no evidence base or plausible explanation why an entire profession would have a three-times  longer length of stay than the rest of the population this continues to be the reality. There is no choice.

in 2011 The ASAM issued a Public Policy Statement on coordination between PHPs, regulatory agencies, and treatment providers recommending  that  only “PHP approved” treatment centers be used in the assessment and treatment of doctors.  It specifically excludes non “PHP -recognized” facilities.  And what defines a “PHP approved” treatment center?    In addition to finding essentially no oversight by the state medical society and medical board, a recent audit of the  North Carolina PHP found financial conflicts of interest and no  documented criteria for selecting the out of state treatment centers they used.  The common denominator the audit missed was that the 19  “PHP-approved” centers were all ASAM facilities just like Ridgeview whose medical directors can be seen on this list.

The appeal to authority logical fallacy has enabled the FSPHP to become the expert authority on physician impairment through the eyes of the medical boards.  It has also allowed them to increase their scope.

The FSMB House of Delegates adopted an updated Policy on Physician Impairment at their 2011 annual meeting distinguishing “impairment” and “illness”  stating that:

“Regulatory Agencies should recognize the PHP as their expert in all matters relating to licensed professionals with ‘potentially impairing illness.'”

According to the FSPHP, physician illness and impairment exist on a continuum with illness typically predating impairment, often by many years.”

The policy extends PHP authority to cover physical illnesses affecting cognitive, motor, or perceptive skills, disruptive physician behavior, and “process addiction” (compulsive gambling, compulsive spending, video gaming, and “workaholism”). It also defines “relapse without use” as “behavior without chemical use that is suggestive of impending relapse.”

G. Douglas Talbott defines  “relapse without use”  as  “emotional behavioral abnormalities” that often precede relapse or “in A A language –stinking thinking.”  AA language has entered the Medical Profession and no one even blinked.  It will get worse.

The ASAM has  monopolized addiction treatment in the United States.   It has imposed  it on doctors through the FSPHP.  The FSPHP political apparatus exerts a monopoly of force. It selects who will be monitored and dictates every aspect of what that entails.  It is a, in fact, a  rigged game.

Inherent in this model is the importance of external control.  It gives them power to exert control over the individual regardless of whether they need to be treated.

By bamboozling regulatory medicine this was accomplished.    And the maintenance of this relationship is necessary as this  presentation  by an FSPHP physician  warns, “guard this relationship jealously.”

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Moral Panics and Moral Crusades

By introducing and fueling moral panics the ASAM/FSPHP political apparatus has been able to expand in both scope and power.

The Medscape article “Drug Abuse Among Doctors:  Easy, Tempting, and Not Uncommon” published in the “Business of Medicine” section in January 2014 is characteristic example of the authoritative opinion, propaganda, and misinformation spun to maintain a pervasive climate of fear. Proof by anecdote.  Physicians are “5 times as likely as the general public to misuse prescription drugs” according to Lisa Merlo, PhD.  “Given the epidemic of prescription addiction sweeping the nation, that’s a grim statistic.”

Described as a “researcher at the University of Florida’s Center for Addiction Research and Education,” Merlo’s research involving 55 doctors being monitored by their state Physician Health Program published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine in October 2013 found “most physicians who abuse prescription drugs” do so to “relieve stress and physical or emotional pain.”  Nowhere is it mentioned on Medscape that Merlo is the Director of Research for the Florida state PHP Professionals Research Network.   Physician access to medications through prescriptions,  “networks of professional contacts, and proximity to hospital and clinic supplies” gives them “rare access to powerful, highly sought-after drugs” says Marvin D. Seppala, chief medical officer at Hazelden.  This access “sets them apart” and “not only foment a problem” but”perpetuate it” says Seppala.  “Access “becomes an addict’s top priority” and they “will do everything in their power to ensure it continues.”  

“They’re often described as the best workers in the hospital,” he says. “They’ll overwork to compensate for other ways in which they may be falling short, and to protect their supply. They’ll sign up for extra call and show up for rounds they don’t have to do.”-Dr. Marvin D. Seppala

Physicians are intelligent and skilled at hiding their addictions, he says. Few, no matter how desperate, seek help of their own accord.”  In reality this is absurd.  And if you look at any of the current “moral panics” that are being used to suggest random suspicion-less drug testing of all doctors or promoting the Physician Health Programs as the “New Paradigm” you will inevitably find a doctor, just like Marv Seppala who is on this list as  an author or interviewee.  It is a given.

The terms  “impaired physician” and  the “disruptive physician”  are used as labels of deviancy.  As deviants who allegedly threaten the very core of medicine (patient care) and  the business of medicine (profit)  they must be stopped at all costs.   Belief in the seriousness of the situation justifies intolerance and unfair treatment.  The evidentiary standard is lowered.  Aided by a  “conspiracy of silence” among doctors in which impaired colleagues are not reported  necessitates identification of them by any means necessary.   Increase the grand scale of the hunt.

In this way these front-groups have successfully acted as moral entrepreneurs to make and enforce rules and put forth new definitions and mandates that serve their own interests.     A retrospective non -blinded non-randomized cohort study with serious underlying methodological errors involving 904 physicians being monitored by PHPs is now being used to “set the standard for recovery.”


Across the Country doctors are going to the media,  law enforcement, the AGO, and the ACLU only to be turned a deaf ear.   Many consider this a “parochial” issue best handled by the medical community. Doctors reporting crimes are turned back over to the very perpetrators of the crimes.   The Medical Societies and professional organizations contribute to the problem by willful ignorance.   Accusations are used to disregard the claims of the accused.   It is a system of institutional injustice that is driving many doctors to suicide.  Hopeless, helpless, and feeling entrapped many are taking this route.  And no one is talking about it.   This cannot be avoided any longer.

The next target is the “aging physician.”   And as they have done with the “impaired” and “disruptive” physician” the FSPHP and their affiliates are setting the stage for another “moral crusade.”

  1. Cohen S. Folk Devils and Moral Panics: The Creatio of the Mods and Rockers (New Edition). Oxford, U.K.: Martin Robertson; 1980.
  2. Becker H. Outsiders: Studies in the Sociology of Deviance. New York: Free Press; 1963.
  3. Hall SC, Critcher C, Jefferson T, Clark J, Roberts B. Policing the Crisis: Mugging, the State, and Law and Order. London: Macmillan; 1978.


Still looking for Statisticians, Biostatisticians and Epidemiologists to debunk Junk-Science

photo 1Wanted!–a Few Statisticians, Biostatisticians and Epidemiologists who want to make a difference in Medicine, Society and our Future.

Up until the birth of the EtG,  tests used for forensic drug and alcohol monitoring had to go through the arduous, expensive and necessary FDA approval process.   The LDT pathway was designed to develop simple tests with little risk that have  low market potential (i;e. the cost of the normal FDA approval process would prohibit them from coming to market).  The LDT pathway was designed to improve patient care in the diagnosis and treatment of patients.  It was not designed for forensic tests.  LDT approval does not require in vivo testing.  It is essentially an honor system and to develop an LDT it is not even necessary to prove that the test is actually testing what it is purportedly testing for (validity).

So with little to no evidence base an ASAM/FSPHP physician introduced the EtG, had it developed and marketed as a LDT in collusion with unscrupulous labs, and then began using it on physicians being monitored by State PHPs.  This then spread to other monitoring organizations in which there was a large power-differential between those ordering the tests and those being tested (criminal-justice, other professional monitoring programs).  These biomarkers have never been used in Federal Drug Testing, SAMHSA approved, DOT, and other organizations where unions or other organizations are present and looking out for the best interests of those being tested.


Physician Suicide, the “Impaired Physician Movement” and ASAM: The Dead Doctors at Ridgeview Institute under G. Douglas Talbott

Physician Suicide, the “Impaired Physician Movement” and ASAM: The Dead Doctors at Ridgeview Institute under G. Douglas Talbott.

In May 1999 G. Douglas Talbott stepped down as president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) as a jury awarded Dr. Leonard Masters a judgment of $1.3 million in actual damages and an undisclosed sum in punitive damages for fraud, malpractice, and the novel claim of false imprisonment.

The fraud finding required a finding that errors in the diagnosis were intentional. Masters, who was accused of overprescribing narcotics to his patients was told by the director of the Florida Physician Health Program (PHP) that he could either surrender his medical license until the allegations were disproved or submit to a four-day evaluation.

Thinking he would have an objective and fair evaluation, Masters agreed to the latter.  He was instead diagnosed as “alcohol dependent” and coerced into “treatment under threat of loss of his medical license. Staff would routinely threaten to report any doctor who questioned any aspect of their diagnosis or treatment to their state medical boards “as being an impaired physician, leaving necessary treatment against medical advice,”  the equivalent of professional suicide.

Masters, however, was not an alcoholic. Not even remotely so.

According to his attorney, Eric. S. Block,  “No one ever accused him of having a problem with alcohol. Not his friends, not his wife, not his seven children, not his fellow doctors, not his employees, not his employers, No one.”

He was released 4 months later and forced to sign a five-year “continuing care” contract with the Florida PHP, also under continued threat of his medical license.

12 years earlier the Atlanta Constitution did a series of reports after five inpatients died by suicide at one of Talbott’s rehabilitation facilities called Ridgeview.  At least 20 more killed themselves after leaving Ridgeview.

A jury awarded $1.3 million to the widow of one of the deceased physicians against Ridgeview  and other lawsuits initiated on behalf of suicides were settled out of court.

The Constitution reported that doctors entered the program under threats of loss of licensure “even when they would prefer treatment that is cheaper and closer to home.” The paper also noted that Ridgeview “enjoys unparalleled connections with many local and state medical societies that work with troubled doctors,” “licensing boards often seek recommendations from such groups in devising an approved treatment plan,” and those in charge are often “physicians who themselves have successfully completed Ridgeview’s program.”

In 1997 William L. White interviewed Dr. LeClair Bissell, M.D., one of the pioneers in the treatment of impaired professionals. The interview was not published until after her death in 2008 per her request.   White asked her when those in the field of treatment for substance abuse and addictions began to see physicians (and other professional) as a special treatment population.   She replied

“When they started making money in alcoholism. As soon as insurance started covering treatment, suddenly you heard that residential treatment was necessary for almost everybody. And since alcoholic docs had tons of money compared to the rest of the public, they not only needed residential treatment, they needed residential treatment in a special treatment facility for many months as opposed to the shorter periods of time that other people needed.” -Dr. LeClair Bissel

Talbott claimed a “92.3 percent recovery rate according to information compiled from a five-year follow-up survey based on complete abstinence and other treatment.”   A 1995 issue of The Federal Bulletin: The Journal of Medical Licensure and Discipline, published by the Federation of State Medical Boards, contains articles outlining impaired physician programs in 8 separate states. Although these articles were methodologically flawed opinion pieces written by program directors of State PHPs and  included no described study-design or methodology the FSMB bought their purported 90% success rates hook line and sinker it is at this point an alliance was formed between the FSPHP and FSMB.

Talbott faced no professional repercussions for the multiple suicides at Ridgeview or the fraud.  And absolutely no changes in their treatment philosophy were made. They still haven’t.  They have simply tightened the noose and taken steps to remove accountability.

Up until his recent death, Talbott continued to present himself and ASAM as the most qualified advocates for the assessment and treatment of medical professionals for substance abuse and addiction.

The ASAM, FSPHP and Like-Minded Docs still do.

In most states today any physician referred for an assessment for substance abuse will be mandated to do so in a facility just like Ridgeview.

There is no choice.   In mechanics and mentality, this same system of coercion, control, and indoctrination has metastasized to almost every state only more powerful and opaque in a system that is essentially unregulated, protected from public scrutiny, and accountable to no one.   For what they have done is taken the Ridgeview model and replicated it state by state in the the Physician Health Programs under the scaffold of the Federation of State Physician Health Programs (FSPHP). The organizations alliance with the FSMB has only gone stronger.

And this directly correlates with the marked rise in physician suicide we are now seeing in the United States.

For full post see:   Physician Suicide, the “Impaired Physician Movement” and ASAM: The Dead Doctors at Ridgeview Institute under G. Douglas Talbott.







Free Educational Webinar: How to Position Yourself as an EXPERT!

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The validity and reliability of opinions lie in their underlying methodology and evidence base. Reliance on the personal authority of any expert or group of experts is the fallacy of appeal to authority.

I have asthma but that does not make me a Pulmonologist.  That addiction “specialist” diagnosing and treating you may have 5 years prior been a proctologist; and maybe not even a very good one at that.

Somewhere there may be doctor with no post-graduate training in surgery wielding a scalpel and calling himself an expert surgeon, but it is difficult to imagine that he is a very good one.


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Addiction Medicine: The Birth of a New Discipline

Somehow, I don't think this is quite what they had in mind!

Contessa Bella St John

“How to Position Yourself as an EXPERT, Make More Money and Help More People, by Becoming a Published Author – Even if You Don’t Know Where to Start!” Think about it – if you need to see a chiropractor, for example, would you rather see a general chiropractor, or one who has positioned …

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The Plan to introduce non-FDA approved drug and alcohol tests into the Healthcare system and require doctors drug-test ALL PATIENTs including students and kids!


The Plan to introduce non-FDA approved Laboratory Developed Tests (LDTs) into the Healthcare system and require doctors drug-test ALL PATIENTs including students and kids!

The ASAM plans to introduce non-FDA approved “forensic”  Laboratory Developed Tests (LDTs) into mainstream healthcare via a loophole.    This same group introduced most of these tests through a loophole and now they want to drug-and alcohol TEST EVERYBODY including STUDENTS AND KIDS through another loophole!   These tests are of unknown reliability and accuracy.  The LDT pathway does not even require proof that the test is even valid  (i.e. that the test is actually testing for the substance it claims to be testing) but with no FDA oversight or regulation the labs can claim anything they want in marketing it and they do.

If a doctor collects a test on a “patient”  the test is rendered “clinical” rather than “forensic” and by deeming this drug-testing  “clinical” rather than “forensic”  they can then call the consequences of a positive test “treatment” rather than “punishment.  ” It is via this loophole they plan to introduce and unleash the panoply of junk-science tests currently being used on other groups who have no say in the matter (probationers, parolees, private professional monitoring groups, etc. ) onto the general population at large.    A boon for the Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association and the assessment and treatment industry but a bane to the rest of society.    And to prevent this from happening more people need to be talking about this.

Disrupted Physician 101.2: “Addiction Medicine” is a Self-Designated Practice Specialty Unrecognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties–(An AMA Census Term Indicating Neither Training nor Competence)

Disrupted Physician 101.2: “Addiction Medicine” is a Self-Designated Practice Specialty Unrecognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties–(An AMA Census Term Indicating Neither Training nor Competence)B1A19yWIMAAQf7EThe fraudulent Addiction Medicine drug-testing, assessment and treatment complex is a  charade of prohibitionists and profiteers.  It is time that this be identified and addressed. Addiction Medicine has evolved in a Lord-of-the-Flies manner without regulatory scrutiny or oversight and an absence of the need to guard. They are the Robber barons of Science and Medicine who have bought and boondoggled their way into the Medical Profession and Society  and are poised to ruin both. It is time to take aim at these unsupervised pundits of authoritative opinion with facts, evidence base, and the scientific method. The immense and unconscionable conflicts of interest  must also be addressed. And the blinkered apathy of the masses and willful ignorance of organized medicine needs to end now!   If not the ASAM White Paper on Drug Testing  will come to pass and we will be  faced with a future Police State run by unqualified, illegitimate and irrational zealots and profiteers.