The initial history of ISAM is predicated upon many diversified events and people.
Correspondence was exchanged between ASAM and the then President of CSAM,
Dr. el-Guebaly seeking to enhance the participation of international attendants at the ASAM
meetings from mere observers. A single meeting held at a hotel balcony in Estoril Lisbon,
Portugal in the summer of 1997 benchmarks the birth of ISAM. This hotel was the headquarters for
the joint meeting of the Portuguese and American Societies of Addiction Medicine.
This was hosted under the direction of Dr. Joaquim Carrilho. Dr. Nady El-Guebaly, Dr. Jim Halikas,
Dr. G. Douglas Talbott, and Dr. Flavio Poldrugo attended the initial meeting. These physicians
while attending the ASAM meeting in Portugal became more appreciative of the fact
that addiction
medicine, while developing rapidly in some countries and territories, needed to become global.
Sessions were held to explore the ways in which this might be accomplished. It was universally felt
that there should be an initial international meeting. To accomplish this, the group felt that invitations
should be extended to attend an organizational meeting at the biannual meeting of the
American Society of Addiction Medicine in New Orleans in 1998. Twenty-five physicians
from some 12 countries participated at the meeting.

In New Orleans in 1998, an organizational meeting of ISAM was established. Up to this point,
ISAM was just an idea without details, organizational structure nor funding. Dr. G. Douglas Talbott
and Dr. M. Galanter had agreed to chair the meetings as the host country was the United States
and ASAM and funding had been obtained from the Sarnoff Foundation. In New Orleans, it was
determined that the first international meeting would be in the U.S. It was clearly established that the
United States then should not play a dominant role in the International Society of Addiction Medicine,
but would play a more catalytic role in getting the organization initiated. At the New Orleans
meeting, Dr. el-Guebaly was elected Chairman and given the responsibility of organizing the first
meeting of ISAM. Dr. Talbott took the responsibility for selecting a site and seeking a realistic
budget for the first organizational meeting. Since this was to be a continental effort of both the U.S.
and Canada, an executive committee to actualize this first meeting was formed. This included
Dr. el-Guebaly, Chair, Planning Committee, ISAM, Dr. G. Douglas Talbott, President – ASAM,
Dr. Marc Galanter, president-elect of ASAM, Dr. Peter Mezciems, Clinical Director of Homewood
Treatment Center in Guelph, Ontario, Dr. David Smith, President Haight Ashbury Free Clinic,
Dr. James Callahan, Executive Director of ASAM, and Dr. Gary Henschen, Medical Director of Charter
Behavioral Health Systems. During this initial meeting, Dr. Callahan volunteered personnel and staff
from ASAM acknowledging the importance of this worldwide program.

Dr. Talbott approached the Sarnoff Foundation for funding the initial organizational meeting in
New Orleans. The Executive Committee, after considering many sites, approached Mrs. Betty Ford of the
Betty Ford
Center in Palm Springs, California and Mrs. Ford agreed to house the first international
meeting of ISAM. Additional funding was obtained from the Charter Behavioral Health Systems,
Elli Lilly, Dr. Dorsey, Dr. Wattell, The Matt Newell Fund, and Abbott Laboratories.

Appreciating that substance abuse and addiction is a worldwide problem, the U.S. State Department
was approached. After listening to the potential of the International Society of Addiction Medicine, the
State Department's Deputy Director stated that the US would be helpful in funding attendance of
addiction medicine specialists from those countries who were economically constrained and unable to
send their experts to this meeting.

Throughout 1998 and the spring of 1999, monthly conference calls were held and arrangements were
made for the first meeting at the Betty Ford Center. From April 24-26, 1999, the first International Society
of Addiction Medicine meeting was accomplished. The ISAM planning committee with
Dr. Nady El-Guebaly as chair, consisted of:
Dr. GD Talbott
Dr. P. Mezciems
Dr. M. Galanter
Ms. M. Dorozio – Executive Assistant
Dr. S. Alvarado
Dr. J. Carrilho
Dr. J. Gleser
Dr. G. Bjornsson
Dr. M. Delgado
Dr. W. Moran

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The team was divided into a scientific program with chairs for treatment prevention, education and
epidemiology update, as well as a policy panel. The Board of Directors of ISAM was then confirmed
by the attendants composed of members of the original committee plus additional members for
required regional representation. Time was spent in providing a constitution and discussed policy
matters. Dr. Jorge Gleser volunteered to have the second international meeting in Jerusalem, Israel in
November 2000.


The duly constituted ISAM Founding Board is composed of:

President Nady el-Guebaly, MD, DPsych, FRCPC, FAPA, FASAM
Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Vice-Presidents G. Douglas Talbott, MD, FASAM
Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Jorge Gleser, MD
Jerusalem, Israel

Flavio Poldrugo, MD, PhD
Trieste ITALY

Treasurer Joaquim Margalho Carrilho, MD, Psych

Saul Alvarado, MD

Gudbjorn Bjornsson, MD

Colin Brewer, MD
London UK

Prof. CAI Zhi-Ji
Beijing, China

Joao Carlos Dias da Silva
Rio de Janeiro BRAZIL

Maria Delgado-Pich, MD
Marc Galanter, MD, FASAM
New York, USA

Prof. Michael Krausz, MD

Peter E. Mezciems, MD,CCFP,FASAM
Guelph, Ontario CANADA

Davinder Mohan, MD, MBBS
New Delhi INDIA

Wayne Moran, MB, BS
Aberdeen HONG KONG

David Smith, MD, FASAM
San Francisco CA USA

Organization's Office: Mrs. Marilyn D'Orozio.
The term for office is for three years.

What is ISAM?

1. Core Values: dedicated to the prevention and management of addiction worldwide, the promotion of addiction medicine and international collaboration

Core Activities: advocacy of core values, professional development and membership

2. Purpose & Mission – ISAM is an international society of physicians committed to the advancement of the following:
  • Addiction is a preventable and treatable disease.
  • Physicians worldwide have a major role in the management of addiction.
  • Addiction medicine is an essential medical specialty.

Joint efforts will include:
a) Promotion of the physician's role
b) Medical education
c) Communication and International consensus
d) Treatment
e) Research
f) Policy
g) Impaired professionals
h) Prevention
i) Ethical considerations
j) Multidisciplinary collaboration

Physicians recognize the sociocultural and other aspects of addiction and welcome the opportunity to collaborate with other professionals in the field.

3. ISAM starts as a membership-based organization. The possible addition of an organization-based membership will be examined at a later date.

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The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) sought to enhance the activities of international members attending its meetings. In 1997, at a conference co-hosted by ASAM and the Portuguese Society, it was decided to hold an invitational meeting coinciding with ASAM's annual conference in New Orleans in 1998. Twenty-five physicians from 12 countries responded to the invitation. Drs. Talbott and Galanter acted as hosts with funding from the Sarnoff Foundation. In New Orleans, it was decided to form the International Society (ISAM), a planning task force was elected and given the responsibility of organizing an inaugural meeting. Mrs. Betty Ford agreed to house the first meeting in Palm Springs in April 1999 with general Barry Mc Caffery as keynote speaker. Funding was obtained from the pharmaceutical industry and donations from among the membership. An office was established at the University of Calgary, in Canada where the President Dr. el-Guebaly is located. Since April 1999, ISAM has been involved in the following activities:

1. Developing a global network of physicians dedicated to addiction medicine – Within 2 years, the original 25 from 12 countries are now 353 corresponding members and 152 active members from 80 countries. The communication is by electronic mail but 25% do not have access to e.mail and rely on conventional mail and fax. The formation of ISAM has also been a catalyst for the creation of new national societies in Argentina, Chile, Germany, Switzerland, the Russian Federation and Israel.

2. Organizing educational and advocacy meetings in many parts of the world -
The interest expressed is such that it requires us to have meetings organized in more than one country. This year the annual meeting in Jerusalem in November will be followed by another in Cairo. Next year, the annual meeting will be divided between Trieste, Italy and Slovenia. The meetings of Jerusalem and Cairo have received some 130 submissions for presentations. In addition, we have been asked to co-sponsor specialty meetings in Europe and South America of a regional or thematic nature. Host countries have also been asked to donate fellowships for a select number of attendants from developing countries. Five fellows will go to Israel this fall.

3. Developing an informal electronic educational network -
The creation of a website and a chat-line has opened communications between physicians from various areas of the world. We are now increasingly requested for information about exotic drugs brought by patients from one area of the world to another; enquiry about specialists in a designated area and general information about treatment options.

4. We are about to launch an e.journal, "International Addiction" with a maintenance of competence focus based on review articles from a multi-national set of authors. An outstanding Editorial Board is being recruited (Appendix II) which will peer-review the submissions and ensure quality equivalent to that of established medical journals. With time, we are anticipating a Spanish edition.

5. Creating an international standard setting process -
Too often in our field, the approaches adopted in one country are being pitted against those of another country, frequently with plenty of media-related hype and little evidence. We hope to anticipate and hopefully re-focus the debate into an evidence-based practice of addiction medicine. While ISAM is an organization primarily of physicians, we encourage and need multi-disciplinary input at our meetings.

Nady el-Guebaly, MD, FASAM
Director, Addiction Centre

Prof. Irina Anokhina, MD
Deputy Director
Institute on Medico-Biological
Moscow, Russia

Dr. Barry Stimmel
Dean for Graduate Medical Studies
Mount Sinai School of Medicine
New York, NY

Prof. Nicolay Ivanets, MD
Director of Research Institute of Addictions
Moscow, Russia
Prof. Michael Krausz, MD
Universitas-Krankenhaus Eppendorf
Hamburg, GERMANY

Dr. Marc Galanter
Director , Div of Alcoholism & Drug Abuse
NYU School of Medicine
New York, NY

Dr. David Smith
President, Haight Ashbury Free Clinics
San Francisco, CA

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