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Opioid Crisis in America
Opioid Crisis in America:
A Big Mistake, an Aggressive Industry, a Tricky Brain, and the 16 Milligrams that Will Bring Your Son Back to College
The opioid crisis of the 21st century can be traced back to the 1980s when a catastrophic medical mistake opened the door to liberal prescribing of narcotics. The perfect storm of powerful molecules, complex brain physiology, and an over-aggressive pharmaceutical industry, which capitalized on that original error, lead to the current epidemic.
This lecture will explore the neurobiological underpinnings of the addictive process and its interplay with the psychosocial aspects of the opioid disaster. The lecture will conclude with some good news: treatment works and people recover. We now have robust and safe medications, as well as effective counseling and psychotherapy techniques—and even more are under development—that successfully heal people who suffer from prescription opioid and heroin addiction.
Join Dr. Levounis at the Fukushima Auditorium at the Health Sciences Center on
August 17, 2017 at 4:00 p.m.
Petros Levounis, MD, MA, DFASAM, is chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Rutgers New
Jersey Medical School and chief of service at University Hospital in Newark,
New Jersey. Dr. Levounis came to Rutgers from Columbia University where he
served as director of the Addiction Institute of New York and chief of
addiction psychiatry at St. Luke's and Roosevelt Hospitals from 2002 to 2013. Dr.
Levounis is board-certified in psychiatry, addiction psychiatry, and addiction
medicine. His academic interests include the psychotherapy and
psychopharmacology of addiction and co-occurring psychiatric disorders, the
teaching of psychiatry, gay and lesbian mental health, mindfulness, and the
Dr. Levounis is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Stanford University where he studied chemistry and biophysics as a combined BS/MS student, before receiving his medical education at Stanford University School of Medicine and the Medical College of Pennsylvania. During medical school, he researched the effects of social class on patient-physician relationships in Oxford, England, and received an MA degree in sociology from Stanford. In 1994, he moved to New York City to train in psychiatry at the New York State Psychiatric Institute of Columbia University. He graduated from Columbia receiving the National Institute of Mental Health Outstanding Resident Award and went on to complete his fellowship in addiction psychiatry at New York University under the mentorship of Dr. Marc Galanter. During that time, he received the American Psychiatric Association/Center for Mental Health Services (APA/CMHS) Minority Fellowship, which supported his research on HIV risk factors in homeless men who suffer from severe mental illness and substance use disorders. In 2006, Dr. Levounis completed the Leadership Development for Physicians in Academic Health Centers Program at Harvard School of Public Health.
Dr. Levounis has written numerous articles, monographs, and book chapters; has lectured extensively on addiction topics throughout the United States and abroad; and has been interviewed by CBS, ABC, NBC, CNN, FOX, The Martha Stewart Radio Show, The New York Times, and The Washington Post, among others. He is a Betty Ford Scholar; a member and Laughlin Fellow of the American College of Psychiatrists; and a recipient of the 2008 Coalition Leadership Award, the Irma Bland Award for Excellence in Teaching Residents, the Nancy Roeske Award for Excellence in Medical Student Education, the U.S. State Department Speaker and Specialist Award, and the Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists’ 2012 Distinguished Service Award. Dr. Levounis serves on the boards of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) and the American Board of Addiction Medicine (ABAM), and from 2005 to 2009 chaired the national Committee on Addiction Treatment of the APA. Dr. Levounis is a distinguished fellow of both the APA and ASAM.
Dr. Levounis has authored/edited eleven books including the self-help paperback “Sober Siblings: How to Help Your Alcoholic Brother or Sister—and Not Lose Yourself” (2008), the textbook of “Substance Dependence and Co-Occurring Psychiatric Disorders” (2010), the handbook of “Motivation and Change” (2010), the handbook of “Office-Based Buprenorphine Treatment of Opioid Dependence” (2011), the award-winning “LGBT Casebook” (2012), “The Addiction Casebook” (2014) based on the DSM-5, “The Behavioral Addictions” (2015), an innovative book that includes re-enactment video clips played by Rutgers NJMS medical students, the “Pocket Guide to Addiction Assessment and Treatment” (2016), and “Becoming Mindful: Integrating Mindfulness into Your Psychiatric Practice” (2017, in press). He is currently working on the second editions of his motivational interviewing and buprenorphine books. Dr. Levounis’s books have been translated into Portuguese, Hungarian, and Japanese.
Dr. Levounis is married to actor Lukas Hassel and lives in New York City.