Mission and History

Mission Statement: Our mission is to prevent the harm being done to patients by physicians and other health professionals by bridging the gap in knowledge, skill, and commitment to recognize and treat people with substance use disorders.

Vision:  We prepare physicians and other health professionals at all levels of training and practice to deliver evidence-based care with empathy and respect for patients and colleagues with substance use disorders and their families.

Values: We are committed to demonstrating compassion, empathy, and respect for persons at risk for, or diagnosed with, substance use disorders and to developing expertise among physicians and other health professionals to minimize harm and to promote treatment and recovery.

As a sister organization to the California Society of Addiction Medicine (CSAM), MERF draws upon the physician members of CSAM for their clinical experience, research, educational and training expertise. CSAM is a national standard bearer in addiction medicine training, providing state-or-the-art physician education and training for over 20 years.

We know that addictions and substance use disorders receive short shrift in medical schools and residency training programs despite the explosion of research and overwhelming evidence of their prevalence and treatability. Institutional medical education regarding America’s number one cause of death and disability lags sorely behind the need.

To address that need, MERF is building upon its years of experience by supporting programs of continuing medical education in the spectrum of substance use and its disorders, and in providing annual scholarships and mentoring for physicians-in-training. MERF Scholars demonstrate vastly improved awareness of addiction medicine science and practice. Many MERF scholars return to their home institutions and provide addiction medicine education and training for other physicians and physicians-in-training. In its work in this area, MERF has developed relationships with most California medical schools and many residency training programs.

The question is not what needs to be done; that is well known. The question is: Who is going to do it!


  • Awareness of the incidence and prevalence of substance use problems
  • Awareness of the effects that a person’s substance use has on the health of other persons
  • Basic medical science of substance use, misuse, and addiction
  • Recognition of the integrated clinical continuum of diagnosis, treatment and recovery, including the importance of harm reduction
  • Effective methods of substance abuse diagnosis
  • Overcoming discomfort discussing substance use
  • Techniques for recognizing signs and symptoms of substance misuse and SUDs
  • Intervention and motivation skills
  • Behavioral health and pharmacologic treatments and effectiveness
  • Matching patient problems with appropriate treatment
  • Treatment and referral resources in their community

Click HERE to view the MERF Board of Directors.