3 Questions with Dr. Shorta Yuasa, Medical Director, Addiction Treatment Services

1. Was medicine your first career choice and what attracted you to the field?

Yes. When I met my wife on our first day of medical school, we were two young people who grew up dreaming of becoming a physician. Now, many years later, we both know we are very lucky and privileged to be at the front and center of the human experience as physicians. I was trained and worked as an emergency physician for 18 years before I decided to switch to addiction medicine after a very dear friend of mine committed suicide, losing his struggle with addiction. I love what I do now.

2. Name one thing that you wish more people understood about the clinical role and the daily work of a physician practicing in addiction medicine?

Addiction medicine is not all that difficult to understand conceptually. I must bring myself to meet each client where he or she is today, and make that person realize where he is right now does not disqualify him from getting where he wants to go eventually. This is not a field for people who live in the world of “ought to be,” or “should be.” Rather, I need to practice compassionate and evidence-based medicine in the world as it is.

3. How does your past practice and board certification(s) in both addiction and emergency medicine guide your current work at Lahey Health Behavioral Services?

Certainly my years of practicing emergency medicine have helped me take care of acutely ill clients in all the programs in our addiction treatment service –from our outpatient medication-assisted treatment (Methadone, Vivitrol® and Suboxone®) to inpatient detoxification, to our residential programs. More than my board certifications though, what has helped me in the field of addiction medicine has been my role as a parent of a young adult man with special needs. Because of our son, my wife and I have learned to be patient, and to see the beauty and potential in everyone.