Quality & Practice

What is the ASAM Criteria?

The ASAM Criteria

ASAM's criteria, formerly known as the ASAM patient placement criteria, is the result of a collaboration that began in the 1980s to define one national set of criteria for providing outcome-oriented and results-based care in the treatment of addiction. Today the criteria have become the most widely used and comprehensive set of guidelines for placement, continued stay and transfer/discharge of patients with addiction and co-occurring conditions. ASAM's criteria are required in over 30 states.

ASAM's criteria is an indispensable resource that addiction medicine professionals rely on to provide a nomenclature for describing the continuum of addiction services. 


Have questions? Visit our frequently asked questions page.


How ASAM's Criteria Works

ASAM's treatment criteria provide separate placement criteria for adolescents and adults to create comprehensive and individualized treatment plans. Adolescent and adult treatment plans are developed through a multidimensional patient assessment over five broad levels of treatment that are based on the degree of direct medical management provided, the structure, safety and security provided and the intensity of treatment services provided.

ASAM Criteria Six DimensionsGraphic image of ASAM levels of care

Through this strength-based multidimensional assessment the ASAM criteria addresses the patient's needs, obstacles and liabilities, as well as the patient's strengths, assets, resources and support structure


Oversight and Revision of ASAM's Criteria

Oversight and revision of the criteria is a collaborative process between ASAM leadership and the Steering Committee of the Coalition for National Clinical Criteria. The coalition represents major stakeholders in addiction treatment and has been meeting regularly since the development of the first ASAM Patient Placement Criteria in 1991. The coalition addresses feedback and ensures that the Criteria adequately serves and supports medical professionals, employers purchasers and providers of care in both the public and private sectors. (Full roster of members and their affiliations and minutes of meetings are available upon request). 

Click here to learn more about oversight and revision of ASAM's criteria.

Did you know the ASAM criteria is required in over 30 states? Click here to read a survey of state use.


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