About Mark S. Gold, MD

Founder of the University of Florida’s Florida Recovery Center in Gainesville, and mentor of its current Medical Director, Scott Teitelbaum, MD, Mark S. Gold, MD, is a pioneer in addiction treatment and recovery. He has dedicated more than 40 years to understanding the effects of food, tobacco, cocaine, opiates, and other drugs on the brain and behavior as well as developing innovative treatment models. These translational research models have led to new treatments for addicts, which are still used worldwide.   

Nationally, Dr. Gold has worked with a variety of governmental agencies, administrators and directors concerned with drug use and youth, including the White House and DEA, to reduce stigma and increase access to treatment. He remains a dedicated consultant, mentor, author, and inventor focused on theories that have changed the field, stimulated research, and led to new treatments.

Since his retirement as a full-time academic in 2014, Dr. Mark Gold has continued to teach, mentor, research, and write. He remains a University of Florida Emeritus Eminent Scholar, Adjunct Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Washington University, an active member of the Clinical Council at the Washington University School of Medicine’s Public Health Institute, and current CEO of Galen Mental Health.  

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Pioneering Work in Brain Systems 

As the first Faculty in the Division of Addiction Medicine and the first Chief of Addiction Medicine at the University of Florida College of Medicine, Dr. Gold was instrumental in the Brain Institute’s evolution from an idea to reality. His pioneering work in understanding the underlying effects of opiate drugs on the brain, along with his 1978 proposed model for opiate action, dependence, and withdrawal, transformed the approach to treatment even today.  

Later, Dr. Gold was the senior author on the discovery paper and was awarded a patent for the discovery of new uses for clonidine (Catapres), which remains widely used for opiate withdrawal and pain management. He and Herbert Kleber innovated the approach of sequential use of clonidine and Naltrexone as well as rapid detoxification, and also post-detox maintenance with Naltrexone.  

This work led to the development of a new theory in the mid-1980s discussing cocaine action, dependence, and withdrawal in the dopamine-rich areas of the brain, which provided the addictive properties of cocaine. This subsequently led to a focus on dopamine and pleasure rather than norepinephrine and withdrawal.   

Dr. Gold’s unique outlook on cocaine led to a complete change in considering the drug’s addiction liability, and its acute and chronic actions. He was instrumental in re-defining addiction and moving the field toward fatal attraction, brain hijacking, and loss of control rather than abstinence symptom or signs basis – concepts that are the mainstay of drug addiction theory to this day. He also helped mentor researchers and clinicians on dopamine and deficiency states, including current NIDA Director Nora Volkow, M.D.

Understanding Food Addiction

Along with his work in cocaine addiction and treatment, Dr. Gold has pioneered the hypothesis of hedonic overeating or pathological attachment to food as an addiction, a once-controversial approach that is now more widely accepted due to the recognition of similarities between great food and compulsive overeating and other process addictions. 

In addition to participating in numerous interviews on addictions, overeating, and intervention risk-benefits with the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Newsweek, Forbes Magazine, Bloomberg, Businessweek Men’s Health, and many others, Dr. Gold co-chaired a historic Experts Conference at Yale and another at American Society of Addiction Medicine Symposium to raise awareness on the great progress being made in food addiction, including new ways to treat obesity. Dr. Gold and his research group later worked with Nicole Avena, Ph.D., at Columbia University on “sugar addiction” and drug abuse-like effects.  

A Dedicated Teacher

Above all else, Dr. Gold is a researcher and mentor backed by more than 40 years of successfully mentoring young addiction researchers, teachers, and clinicians. He has mentored researchers and physicians in full-time academic positions in the NIH and Universities from Chairs to Professors, given Grand Rounds at major academic medical centers, and spoken at Scientific Meetings in the United States, Europe, and Asia. 

Dr. Gold’s leadership has been recognized by the Annenberg Foundation, which now supports other medical students Clerkships and summer internships. He is also a regular Keynote Speaker at Internal Medicine Annual Meetings, PriMed, and addiction and psychiatric meetings and conventions.  

Leadership, Service, & Recognitions  

Dr. Gold has been a leader at the University, State, National and International level in drug abuse prevention, treatment advocacy and research.

Leadership Roles:
  • Chair Search, Admissions, & Curriculum Committees 
  • Alcohol Education Center and Impaired Physicians Task Force 
  • Founder/Board of Director, DEA Museum and Educational Foundation 
  • Editor, Journal of Addictive Disease 
  • Expert Panelist, CASA  
  • Founder, Division of Addiction Medicine, Florida Recovery Center 
  • Founding Editor, Journal of Addiction Medicine & UpToDate 
  • Specialty Chief Editor, SUDs and Behavioral Addictions in Frontiers in Public Health 
Memberships & More: 
  • Member, American College of Psychiatrists 
  • Member, Betty Ford Institute Board  
  • Member Washington University’s Institute for Public and Global Health 
  • Editorial Board Member for Numerous Journals 
  • Board, Institute for Behavior and Health in Bethesda, Maryland 
  • Fellow, American College of Pharmacology 
  • Fellow, American Psychiatric Association
Distinguished Alumnus Awards: 
  • University of Florida, 1984 
  • Washington University, 1989 
  • Yale University, 2008 
  • University of Florida Alumni Distinguished Professor, 2011-2013 
  • Wall of Fame Award, University of Florida College of Medicine 
  • Exemplary Teaching and Minority Mentoring Awards, University of Florida College of Medicine 
  • Inventor Awards, University of Florida’s Office of Technology Transfer 
  • Best Doctors® in America, U.S. News Best Doctors (2014) 
Other Awards: 
  • Conway Hunter Society Award, 2004 
  • American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry’s Founders Award, 2005 
  • Annual Nelson J. Bradley, M.D. Lifetime Achievement Award, NAATP, 2006  
  • Multiple DARE & DEA Awards for Volunteer Service 
  • Foundation Fund Award, APA 
  • Pillar of Excellence, APF  
  • Lifetime Achievement Award for Research, DEA & NAATP 

Prolific Portfolio of Publications 

Over the course of his career, Dr. Gold has authored more than 900 publications, including medical articles, chapters, and abstracts in journals for health professionals covering a wide range of psychiatric research subjects. He is also the author of 12 professional books, including practice guidelines, ASAM core competencies, and medical textbooks for primary care professionals, as well as 15 general audience books. In addition to articles and books, he has written practice guidelines and self-learning modules to increase access to state-of-the-art addiction research and practices.   

A review in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA 272:18, 1996) states, “Mark S. Gold, M.D. is the most prolific and brilliant of the addiction experts writing today. Dr. Gold has spent his career trying to bridge the gap in medical education and practice with the belief that addictions are diseases and that all physicians have a critical role in prevention and, if that fails, in early identification and prompt treatment.” 


Dr. Gold Writing