John B. Woods, MD, is the new medical director for the Center for Addiction Science at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.
Dr. Woods is a graduate of the UTHSC College of Medicine and is board certified in addiction medicine. He also serves as an assistant professor in the College of Medicine.
Prior to joining the university, Dr. Woods practiced internal medicine for a dozen years in Jackson, Tennessee, with the largest multispecialty group in the state. He also started and owned a primary care practice in Jackson, worked in residential addiction treatment in Nashville, and was the medical director for an intensive outpatient program in Shelby County.
Dr. Woods said this new position affords him an opportunity to have a major impact on addiction in Tennessee. “This job offers the incredible opportunity to magnify the treatment of addiction in Memphis, Shelby County, and West Tennessee via a number of strategies,” he said. “It offers the imprimatur of the University of Tennessee behind this concept of addiction as a disease that needs to be treated. It allows me to be involved in the training of future providers of health care, both as addiction medicine specialists and physicians who will be providing primary care in the future. It allows me to be involved in research, which in the addiction medicine world is really in its infancy.”
He also believes the backing of the university reduces the stigma surrounding addiction and treatment. “So instead of looking at addicts and saying, ‘those people are different from everybody else,’ with the university backing, it’s more clearly a disease,” he said.
The Center for Addiction Science was launched in the College of Medicine to combat the addiction epidemic in Tennessee. In 2016, it was named the first Center of Excellence in Addiction Medicine in the country by The Addiction Medicine Foundation, now the American College of Academic Addiction Medicine.
“Addiction is not substance specific,” Dr. Woods said. “Addiction is a primary brain disease. People may have one or more drugs of compulsion, which is actually a better description than drug of choice, because it’s not a choice in addiction.”
The center is located at 6401 Poplar, Suite 500, in the PennMarc Centre in East Memphis. It is managed by University Clinical Health, a faculty clinical practice affiliated with UTHSC.
“The UTHSC Center for Addiction Science is committed to making our communities healthier by helping individuals struggling with addiction,” said Muneeza Khan, MD, chair of the UTHSC College of Medicine’s Department of Family Medicine, which oversees the center. “Our multifaceted approach emphasizes clinical care, research, education, and community outreach. With the continued support of the UTHSC leadership, and under Dr. Woods’ directorship, I am confident that the Center for Addiction Science will continue to lead the way in effectively addressing the opioid epidemic.”