Kevin Hill, M.D., M.H.S.

A nationally recognized leader in the science, policy, and treatment of substance use disorders (SUDs), Dr. Hill provides direct patient care for those suffering from addiction and conducts clinical research on medications and behavioral interventions to improve treatment, particularly for marijuana dependence. He also is a consultant to the Boston Red Sox, the National Football League, and the National Basketball Association.

Dr. Kevin HillWhat is addiction psychiatry, and why is this work so important now?

Our division treats substance use disorders (SUDs), the misuse of or dependence on a drug that is detrimental to a person's health and well-being. The majority of our patients have alcohol or opioid addiction. With regard to opioids, I can't stress the severity of the current epidemic enough—people are dying every day. But, despite what you may hear in the news, patients with these disorders can succeed in recovery. It requires a comprehensive plan, including evidence-based treatment from experienced clinicians who are passionate about their work. Fortunately this organization has many passionate people. Our goal is to channel that passion into the best care possible.

How is your division tackling this urgent crisis?

It can take a village to support someone's recovery from SUDs. Addiction doesn't occur in a vacuum; we need to take into account all the other aspects of the patient's health, including medical, psychosocial, associated illnesses and even the stigma around these disorders and their treatment. Our team works with community providers, clinics and programs to help our patients access all supports possible. We also have dedicated peer volunteers, people living in recovery from SUDs, who do inspiring work with patients who want to talk to someone who has been through it before. Although addiction is a lifelong illness with significant health risks and consequences, it is also treatable, and we want to give every patient who is motivated a chance to get better.

Why is philanthropy critical in this effort?

Philanthropy can be a game changer. Having my position supported in part by philanthropy when I arrived last fall showed me that the hospital was taking this issue on in a very serious way and has been a tremendous asset to what I've already been able to do. I was so impressed by the Crowley gift. It has allowed us to support Leslie Bosworth, M.S.W., L.I.C.S.W., a creative star in social work, who is implementing innovative programs that we wouldn't have been able to do otherwise. It may take some time, but we hope to add more stars to our team—physicians, social workers, nurses. We want the right people. Philanthropy also allows us to do some very important things: educating on a wide scale, advancing clinical trials, making evidence-based care better. I've had some mentors who have taught me not to think about boundaries in medicine but to think big in order to solve problems that extend outside of those boundaries. And that's what we need to do here—think big. This crisis and BIDMC's environment offer an incredible opportunity to do that.