Growing up I never liked rote memorization. As a physician I have never liked the arbitrary labeling and “pigeon holing of patients.” My name is Jeffrey A. Berman, M.D., DFASAM. My practice has been dedicated to Addiction Medicine and Addiction Psychiatry and for the past 8 years, I’ve been the Chief Medical Officer for SOBA New Jersey. A life-long practice in Addiction Medicine started for me shortly after becoming one of the first physicians certified by American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) in 1988. Dedication to mission was instilled in me by rigorous medical training and 22+ years as an Army Reservist. I didn’t realize how these two parts of my life would be so intertwined.
As Medical Director at SOBA New Jersey, I’ve been privileged to work with and lead a team of credentialed and compassionate professionals dedicated to treating patients with Substance Use and Co-occurring Disorders. My last USAR deployment was in 2003. I was tasked to serve as Chief of Psychiatry at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks and Munson Army Hospital at Fort Levenworth, KS. It was eye-opening. Our patients, great in number and diverse in presentation often included soldiers still In theater as well as those with established Mental Health and yes, even Alcoholism. Each soldier or veteran received individual and personalized care. In some cases, with precise diagnosis and rapid treatment of Acute Stress, we likely prevented progression to Post Traumatic Stress and other progressions of illness.
At SOBA New Jersey, we pride ourselves on rapid stabilization and accurate assessment. Treatment begins on arrival with a warm and reassuring welcome. A lesson learned from several deployments was to continuously assessment and question situations (diagnoses). SOBA’s patient-centered treatment is reviewed daily. We employ neuropsychological testing to facilitate diagnostis. Our Team of Board Certified Addiction Medicine physicians, nurses and Licensed Counselors constantly communicate using. An advanced health record (EHR) which can be accessed through mobile devices. When we discuss client, it’s not about “the guy with PTS the guy with depression.” “It’s about Mr. or Ms. Cunningham.” We do not pigeonhole or label. We pride ourselves on the unique size of our 20 bed facility which permits close observation of patients and a safe and supportive recovery environment
When I joined SOBA, I brought thirty years of experience and education in Addiction Medicine and Psychiatry. My first leadership position was in 1992 as the Medical Director of Marworth Treatment Center in Waverly PA.. I was mentored by Louis E. Baxter, MD who would become the president of ASAM. I participated in development of the First Edition of the ASAM Patient Placement Criteria. Our goal was to develop evidenced based criteria to assess patient and determine the level of care required by each patient. At that time, there were no widely accepted criteria. Patient placement was hit or miss. Today, the ASAM Placement Criteria is universally accepted in the treatment world. Several years later, in 2008, I joined ASAM’s Medical Specialty Action Group (MSAG). MSAG created the new ABMS Subspecialty, “Addiction Medicine.”
Treatment of Substance Use Disorder would now be provided by well trained and Board Certified specialists
Since 2000, I’ve been affiliated with Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, serving as Clinical Assistant Professor, Associate Training Director of Addiction Psychiatry, and Attending Physician. As a consultant to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, I mentored military and civilian healthcare providers on the use of medication assisted treatment (MAT) of alcohol and opioid use disorders. I developed innovative delivery systems and programming for MAT in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.
I believe that our expert integrated treatment team at SOBA, is able to treat any Veteran who requests help.