Faculty Spotlight | April 2017

Richard Ries, MD


Richard Ries is a professor and the director of the Addictions Division in the University of Washington’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. He is also the director of the Addiction Treatment Services at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, WA. 
In addition to his roles as professor and director, Dr. Ries is also the editor of the American Society of Addiction Medicine’s Principles of Addiction Medicine textbook and co-leader of the UW Psychiatry and Addictions Case Conference (UW PACC), where he helps primary care providers who treat patients suffering from challenging mental and/or addictions disorders.
  • What do you find most satisfying about working in integrated care or on the ICTP Project?

I love working with all the people who are part of UW PACC: the attendees, staff, and especially my co-host Mark Duncan, MD. Over time we have all started to become a community that not only problem solves but has a great mix of wisdom and humor. 

  • From your perspective, what do you feel are the greatest successes of the ICTP project to date?

Well, first, just getting UW PACC up and running and having the technology work. Then also getting a cadre of regulars who attend and share. 

  • What are your greatest achievements? 

a. Starting, developing, and running an addictions division within UW medicine, which also has the only “addictions track” that recruits and develops residents from their initial application onward.  Addictions is one of six medical specialty programs at UW Medicine rated “Top 10” nationally by US News and World Report. 

b. Helping to start the major text Principles of Addiction Medicine in the late 1980s and becoming a junior then senior editor for the last two editions (editions IV and V), which have now become the key reference texts in the addictions field.

c. Developing young faculty who now hold many research grants in a number of areas and who will carry our division forward.

  • What led you to where you are today professionally?

As a clinician treating acutely hospitalized psychiatric patients in the early 1980s, it was clear to me that alcohol and drug use problems were involved in about half of our admissions, yet we had no expertise on our or any other units to treat these problems. As a result, I sought out other academic clinicians like myself and helped to start both the American Society of Addiction Medicine and the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry.

  • Tell us about your favorite vacation.  What makes it your favorite?

Visiting Sequim, WA, in late June or early July to go to a little cabin I rent there with my wife, Sarah, and various family members or friends who come from afar. During early summer, Sequim weather is warm and sunny. The U-Pick strawberries and raspberries are both available, and we catch both Dungeness and Red Rock crabs to make feasts every day. There is also great walking and hiking around the area -- on the beaches, the Dungeness Spit, and at Hurricane Ridge.

  • Describe your perfect day outside of work (real or imagined).

It’s a little hard to describe the perfect day in full, but it would include both a yoga class with my daughter Stephanie and a float down one of our rivers during salmon season to catch dinner.

  • Who was your favorite teacher and why?

Actually, my favorite teacher was probably Jerry, a crotchety old Norwegian fishing genius out on the Olympic Peninsula, who I fished with for many years and who taught me all about rivers, fish, how to float and jetboat rivers, how to read the waters, and how to catch more fish (usually salmon) than most.