OPA Addiction 101 Day

May 30

Dr. Wiplove Lamba introduces the first event from the OPA Section on Addiction Psychiatry.

For this Addiction 101 Day, we have used the needs assessments to come up with an interactive day of presentations and workshop-style activities. We will cover the approach to the patient, pharmacotherapy of substance use disorders, and psychosocial treatments in a general, broad, and experiential way that is relevant to your current practice. On a personal note, I completed my psychiatry residency at the University of Toronto in 2011. Over my addiction fellowship and the next 2-3 years in practice, it became quite clear that there are two major areas that were missing in my training and my active clinical skillset: addiction pharmacotherapy and psychosocial interventions. I was quite comfortable with pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy for people with mental illnesses. This was not the case for people who use substances.


When I came over to St. Michael’s Hospital in 2013, I started working down the hall from Dr. Tim Guimond who was using and applying psychosocial interventions for the substance use disorder itself and psychotherapy for those with concurrent disorders. This was a period of huge growth for me as a therapist. I started to cover for groups when he was away. I was able to fine tune my motivational interviewing skills, and I learned actual psychotherapies for substance use including community reinforcement approach and dialectical behavior therapy. While it seemed like a foreign language at first, I started to slowly think like a behaviorist and applying those skills with patients I was seeing. I also started working alongside Dr. Suzanne Turner. The work with her was inspiring as she was not only strong in terms of clinical skills, but she had built a substance use in pregnancy program and a parallel inpatient consultation service in pregnancy. She had found a service gap and was able to slowly build a service helping the most marginalized.

Three years ago, Dr. Caudarella joined the addiction team at St. Michael’s.  He’s a family doctor trained in addiction.  When he joined the team, he helped us integrate harm reduction practices to the patients and clients that we were seeing – another skill that was a gap in my practice. He also allowed us to reach the point of having enough staff to take on a higher volume of trainees. He is also a member of the Opioid Emergency Taskforce run by the MOHLTC.

When I look back at my years in practice, the need for further professional development and to stay as “lifelong learner” became quite clear. Thanks to working closely with these colleagues I was able to refine and add to my clinical skill set.

In conclusion, we really wanted to create something that would help you, the attendee, pick up clinical skills relevant to your day-to-day practice through “hands-on” learning experiences. Most importantly, we hope that this initiative will grow into a community of learners and a community of practice where we can all help each other grow as clinicians and people.

Wiplove Lamba, MD, FRCPC, Dip ABAM, ISAM(C)
Chair, Ontario Psychiatric Association Section on Addiction Psychiatry

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