Dr. Roueen Rafeyan has worked as chief medical officer of Gateway since 2016 and has been a trailblazer in the field of Addiction Medicine for over 20 years, having served as a medical director for psychiatric and substance use programs at leading Illinois healthcare institutions including Rush, Michael Reese, Resurrection and Presence Behavioral Health.
In addition to Dr. Rafeyan’s extensive medical experience, he is also a diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and the American Society of Addiction Medicine. He is currently on the faculty at Northwestern University and an active member of the American Medical Association, American Psychiatry Association, Illinois Psychiatric Society and Illinois State Medical Society. Dr. Rafeyan answered some questions about his work and the future of the field:
Could you describe your role as chief medical officer of Gateway?
My role is to uphold the standards of care across Gateway facilities, to make sure every patient that comes to Gateway receives the most appropriate, highest quality evidence-based treatment to address all the patient’s needs – medical, psychiatric and social issues – simultaneously. Only then we can anticipate successful outcomes. To ensure this, I develop and work closely with Gateway’s curriculum and team of physicians and clinicians at all our locations.
What would you say is the most challenging part of your job at Gateway and your work overall?
There are a number of challenges… Fighting the public stigma against addiction. Getting fellow colleagues and physicians to understand addiction as a disease rather than a lifestyle choice. Providing treatment to everyone who is in need of it is a challenge because there are so many patients out there who are in need of treatment but, for various reasons, there are barriers preventing them from getting into treatment.
What are the most rewarding parts of your job that help you overcome those challenges?
For me, when I undertake care of a patient who is at the lowest in their lives – physically, mentally, financially, socially – and I work with them and their families to gradually bring them back to living a meaningful, productive life, that’s the biggest reward anyone can get.
What would you like the future of Addiction Medicine to look like?
We need more research and a better understanding of addictive processes. We need better medications to treat addiction and we need better access to addiction treatment. I would like to see standardization of addiction treatment across the country, the same way treating hypertension or diabetes is standardized. And, of course, we need increased funding to allow us to care for more people.
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