Quality & Practice

How to Use The ASAM Criteria

The ASAM criteria is useful to patients, treatment providers, managed care providers, and other stakeholders and professionals. The criteria have become the most widely used and comprehensive set of guidelines for assessment, service planning, placement, continued stay and transfer/discharge of patients with addiction and co-occurring conditions.

Patients

Patients are encouraged to work with their treatment providers to create an individualized treatment plan based on the ASAM criteria’s assessment dimensions. The criteria views patients in their entirety, rather than by a single medical or psychological condition. This means it pays attention to the whole patient, including all of his or her life areas, as well as all risks, needs, strengths and goals.

Using the ASAM criteria, patients can:

  • Become active participants in their own care
  • Learn about, anticipate and understand treatment options and protocols
  • Use the ASAM criteria’s six dimensions, or life areas, to better understand how risks and strengths, skills and resources in one life area can affect another

Treatment Providers and Professionals

For treatment providers, the ASAM criteria provides a holistic approach for determining individualized and outcome-driven treatment plans for patients. Using the Criteria as a guide, practitioners can:

  • Assist a patient from assessment through treatment
  • Work with the patient to determine goals
  • Help rank and rate all the patient’s risks, using the Criteria’s multidimensional approach to determine where to focus treatment and services
  • Determine intensity and frequency of service needed using the Criteria’s detailed guides to levels of care

Managed Care Providers

The ASAM criteria provides one common language for assessing patient need and describes the continuum of addiction care treatment settings. With the ASAM criteria, manage care organizations can easily work with treatment providers to ensure plan participants are receiving the treatment that best fits their needs and that resources are wisely used.

Did you know ASAM has convened managed care organizations, payers and providers to help create the criteria since the very first edition in 1991? It’s true – the ASAM criteria is the result of a collaboration that began in the 1980s to define one national set of criteria for providing outcome-orientated and results-based care in the treatment of addiction. Today the criteria have become the most widely used and comprehensive set of guidelines for assessment, services planning, placement, continued stay and transfer/discharge of patients with addiction and co-occurring conditions. The ASAM criteria are required in over 30 states.

Oversight of ASAM’s criteria to this day is still a collaborative process between ASAM’s leadership and stakeholders in the addiction treatment field to ensure that criteria continue to serve and support the diverse needs of medical professionals, employers, purchasers and providers of care in both the public and private sectors.