ISAM Interest Groups


Neurosciences Interest Group Contact for information:


Prof Antonio Verdejo Garcia

Associate Professor

MRFF Next Generation Clinical Researchers Career Development Fellow II

Monash Institute of Cognitive & Clinical Neurosciences

Deputy Leader Addiction Program, School of Psychological Sciences

Monash University

18 Innovation Walk, Clayton VIC 3800, Australia

T +61 3 9905 5374

Prof. Douglas Steele

Professor of Neuroimaging/Consultant Psychiatrist

School of Medicine, University of Dundee

Dundee DD19SY Scotland, United Kingdom

T +44(0)1382496233

Terms of Reference

Behavioral Addiction

Adolescent & Youth Addiction


Donald J. Kurth, MD

10569 Apple Lane, Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91737  (909) 229-3832


September 30, 2018


Dear ISAM Colleagues,


Marc Galanter, M.D. has asked me to help organize the first International Society of Addiction Medicine “Twelve Step Interest Group” at our upcoming ISAM Busan 2018 Conference. The purpose of the group will be to explore the international application of Twelve Step recovery and help others to understand and apply those principles around the world. We hope to be organizing and presenting the Twelve Step Symposium at the Annual ISAM Conference and to be involved in patient care, research, and advocacy as interest and events allow.

Our inaugural organizational meeting will be held at the upcoming ISAM Busan 2018 Conference at a time and place to be determined. If you think you may be interested in joining us in this exciting and educational endeavor, please keep an eye out for our meeting announcement and plan to attend. Also, please join us in attending the very informative Twelve Step Symposium already scheduled at the ISAM Busan 2018 Conference.



Donald J. Kurth, MD

Fellow of the International Society of Addiction Medicine

Twelve Step Symposium Organizer


Terms of Reference

Inaugural meeting of the 12-Step Interest Group in Busan, Korea at ISAM 2018

Spirituality Interest Group

Terms of Reference


ISAM has designated certain Interest Groups in order to develop key areas of interest to its members, and has now initiated an Interest Group to address the issue of spirituality with regard to addiction illness and recovery. This was undertaken because of:


(1)   the Society’s definition of addiction, manifest in “biological, psychological, sociological and spiritual dimensions.”

(2)   the diversity of our members’ cultural backgrounds that merit attention to the nature of spirituality in their respective national settings.


Definition of Spirituality

Spirituality can be defined as that which gives people meaning and purpose in life1. For some, it can be achieved through participation in religion. For others it can be broader and include involvement in altruistic or creative aspects of one’s cultural background, such as engagement with humanism, the arts, or nature.


Areas of Focus

We will address different aspects of spirituality  which have been explored in both practice and research. Some examples are:

(1)   Clinical Issues: These have been the focus of descriptive study2, analysis of mediators of drug use recovery3, and behavioral addiction4. 

(2)   Cross-cultural studies: Application of recovery approaches are found in diverse national settings5, among treatment professionals6, and in religiously oriented programs7.

(3)   Biology: Recent imaging studies have been undertaken to ascertain neurophysiologic concomitants of spirituality in relation to addictive disorders and their treatment8,9.



Marc Galanter, MD, Professor of Psychiatry, New York University at



  1. Puchalski CM. Spirituality and health: The art of compassionate medicine. Hosp Physician. 2001;37(3):30-36.
  2. Galanter M, Dermatis H, Post S, Sampson C: Spirituality-based recovery from drug addiction in the Twelve-Step fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous. J Addict Med 7:189-195, 2013.
  3. Kelly JF, Stout RL, Magill M, Tonigan JS, Pagano ME. Spirituality in recovery: A lagged mediational analysis of alcoholics anonymous’ principal theoretical mechanism of behavior change. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2011;35:454-463.
  4. Gavriel-Fried B, Moretta T, Potenza MN. Modeling intrinsic spirituality in gambling disorder. Addict Res Theory. 2019. doi: 10.1080/16066359.2019.1622002
  5. Galanter M, White WL, Hunter BD. Cross-cultural applicability of the 12-Step model: A comparison of Narcotics Anonymous in the USA and Iran. J Addict Med., epub: doi: 10.1097/ADM.0000000000000526, 2019.
  6. Zavan V, Scuderi P. Perception of the role of spirituality and religiosity in the addiction treatment program among the Italian health professionals. Subst Use Misuse. 2013;48(12):1157-1160.
  7. Hansen H. Isla Evangelista-A story of church and state: Puerto Rico’s faith-based initiatives in drug treatment. Cult Med Psychiatry. 2005;29(4):433-456.
  8. McClintock CH, Worhunsky PD, Balodis IM, Sinha R, Miller L, Potenza MN. How spirituality may mitigate against stress and related mental disorders: A review and preliminary neurobiological evidence. Curr Behav Neurosci Rep. 2019. doi: 10.1007/s40473-019-00195-0
  9. Galanter M, Josipovic Z, Dermatis H, Weber J, Millard MA. An initial fMRI study on neural correlates of prayer in members of Alcoholics Anonymous. Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse, 43:44-54, 2017.


Marc Galanter, M.D.
Research Professor of Psychiatry
NYU School of Medicine
550 First Avenue, Room NBV20N28
New York, NY 10016
Phone: 212-263-6960; Fax: 212-263-8285