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White House National Drug Control Policy Director Calls on Osteopathic Physicians to Help Address Opioid Epidemic

Michael Botticelli addressed osteopathic physicians (DOs) Thursday at the American Osteopathic Association’s annual House of Delegates meeting in Chicago

By AOA Media Team


Michael Botticelli addressed osteopathic physicians (DOs) Thursday at the American Osteopathic Association’s annual House of Delegates meeting in Chicago

CHICAGO, July 21, 2016Michael Botticelli, Director of National Drug Control Policy, encouraged the American Osteopathic Association’s House of Delegates to help address the national opioid epidemic by sharing their distinctive brand of medicine to help more Americans benefit from alternatives to prescription opioid medications.

Director Botticelli, the first Director of National Drug Control Policy who is in recovery, cited the role of physicians in combatting the opioid epidemic and called upon the nation’s 123,000 osteopathic physicians (DOs) and medical students to partner with their patients to find safe, effective pain relief that is less likely to trigger substance use disorders.

Preventing dependence should be a priority for physicians, Botticelli said, which means adopting new protocols for treating acute and chronic pain, including checking state prescription drug monitoring programs to see what drugs a patient has been prescribed, and following the CDC’s new Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain. The osteopathic philosophy of medicine focuses on prevention and encourages DOs to move patients off of medication when possible.

“Ending the opioid epidemic will take a comprehensive approach with everyone working together, from the President of the United States to the local city councilor, and from our law enforcement officers to our medical professionals, including our osteopathic physicians,” Botticelli said. “DOs have an important role to play in ending this epidemic because they can offer alternative pain management options to their patients beyond opioid medications and prevent people from developing opioid use disorders.”

For those who are already struggling with substance use disorders, Botticelli urged DOs to change the conversation about the nature of the problem. The first step is accepting that substance use disorders are a complex medical condition that should not be characterized as a problem that can be conquered with willpower or strength of character. Treatment should be offered and encouraged when signs of the disorder are found, he added.

“We have to expand access to treatment, and that includes reducing the stigma surrounding substance use disorders. Addiction is a disease, not a moral failing,” Botticelli said. “Treating people with dignity and respect is an important part of helping them access treatment and achieve long-term recovery.”

Director Botticelli’s remarks were followed by a question and answer session with DOs, and then a panel discussion focused on barriers to non-opioid therapies for chronic pain.

An estimated 23 million Americans are in recovery from a substance use disorder.  Since 2000, the rate of death from drug overdoses has increased 137%, including a 200% increase in the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids, according to the CDC.

The town hall meeting on opioids is part of the American Osteopathic Association’s annual House of Delegates business meeting, taking place in Chicago through July 24. Osteopathic physicians comprised 11 percent of American physicians in 2015 and the profession is among the fastest growing in health care, with one out of four medical students enrolled in an osteopathic medical school.

About the American Osteopathic Association

The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) represents more than 123,000 osteopathic physicians (DOs) and osteopathic medical students; promotes public health; encourages scientific research; serves as the primary certifying body for DOs; and is the accrediting agency for osteopathic medical schools. More information on DOs/osteopathic medicine can be found at


Media Contact:   

Lauren Brush
(312) 202-8161