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Alumni Impact

Raafea Malik, M.D. headshot
Raafea Malik, M.D. ( Residency ’96)

Dr. Raafea Malik has been with CenterPointe Hospital for 15 years. She has worked with outpatient programs, and now heads the residential chemical dependency treatment program. CenterPointe Hospital, located in St. Charles, mo, provides comprehensive behavioral health and addiction treatment continuum for senior adults, adults and adolescents.

“When I reflect on my training as a resident in psychiatry at Saint Louis University, I believe that what has most influenced my career and the way I interact with my patients is treatment of the whole person, not just their symptoms or addiction. Treating mental illness and addiction requires a holistic approach that includes medication, group therapy and individual therapy.

“My advice for all health professionals is to be proactive in asking patients about addiction, and to work towards eliminating the shame associated with addiction and mental illness. Shame doesn’t work. We need to provide the proper tools and therapy to help people with this often lifelong chronic condition.”

Dr. George Grossberg headshot
Dr. George Grossberg (M.D. ‘75, Residency ‘79, Faculty)

“With so much recent focus on opioid addiction, many have lost sight of the bigger issue in our society, which is alcohol abuse. This is the most common addiction, and the most costly—in both financial and emotional terms. Its impact, along with other illicit drugs, is becoming more and more prevalent in older adults.”

Dr. Grossberg is the Samuel W. Fordyce Professor and Director of Geriatric Psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry at Saint Louis University School of Medicine.

Dr. Grossberg treats geriatric patients who suffer from a range of neurocognitive disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease. His areas of expertise include late-life depression, delirium, psychiatry in the nursing home setting and geriatric psychopharmacology.

Dr. Subbu Sarma headshot
Dr. Subbu Sarma (M.D. ’99)

“My professors at the SLU School of Medicine were nurturing, patient-centered and believed in treating the whole person. They taught me to focus upon not only my patient’s primary physical complaints, but also their emotional state, relationships and social stresses—their Mind, Body and Spirit. I’m often reminded of a quote from one of my professors who said ‘It’s your name at the foot of the patient’s bed and on their chart—you have to be responsible for everything they need.’”

I became interested in addiction medicine shortly after completing my residency in psychiatry. I found myself intrigued by the development of some novel medications that appeared to have application toward the treatment of addiction. Seeing first-hand in my clinical practice how addiction affects so many patients in all different walks of life, I knew there was great need for improvement and change. I’ve been inspired by the great progression in care for patients with substance use disorders through better treatment options—such as Suboxone for opioid use disorder. It is important to mention that the current attitude of Addiction Medication toward patients is one of great compassion and understanding.

Advances in neuroscience now support that there is a genetic susceptibility toward substance use disorders. In many cases, an individual’s biology has already made them highly vulnerable, and in many cases an opioid use disorder can develop rapidly, following a prescription due to surgery or injury. Terms such as addiction and habit have been replaced in ICD-10 by the substance use disorder group, and patients are first and foremost seeking our help. The disease of substance use disorders is not the patient’s fault any more than the patient suffering from diabetes or hypertension. The lowering of stigma associated with seeking treatment is important and will allow expansion of treatment to people who otherwise might not have sought it out in the past. The advances in medication have improved upon our treatment success rate.

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