The Growing Field of Addiction Medicine

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Why Specialize in Addiction Medicine

Addiction Medicine (is recognized physician subspecialty of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). Credentialed Addiction Medicine sub-specialists serve as clinical experts, faculty, teachers, and researchers.

Addiction Medicine specialists provide prevention, evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment services for patients with substance use or substance-related health conditions. Addiction Medicine specialists also help family members who are affected by a loved one’s substance use or addiction.

Top benefits of specializing in Addiction Medicine

  • Value to employers: Addiction Medicine specialists have gained in-depth knowledge and skills in their particular subject, and therefore the position of a specialist can be valuable for any organization.  In Academic Medical Centers, ACGME requires that Addiction Medicine Fellowship Program Directors hold current ABPM certification in Addiction Medicine.[1]
  • Thought leadership: As an Addiction Medicine specialist, you have the opportunity to become a true thought leader in your area of expertise. As time goes on, you can become a widely recognized leader in the field. ASAM has opportunities at both state and national levels to connect you with other thought leaders.
  • Career advancement: The ability to become a thought leader can further improve your career prospect and open up different opportunities in the field. People look for experts, rather than medical generalists, when encountered with an addiction related problem.
  • Designation recognition:  ASAM’s fellow membership category (FASAM) gives recognition to and raises awareness of ASAM members who are board certified addiction specialists. The FASAM designation can be used on a variety of items like business cards, letterhead and more as a mark of distinction and achievement.
  • Access to Federal Loan Repayment funds:  Congress has appropriated funding for up to $250,000 of student loan repayment for physicians who become addiction specialists and practice for 6 years in designated geographic areas.
  • Compensation: Generally, specialists have greater earning potential. It is estimated that physicians with board certification earn 67% more than those without it. [1]

 

Other unique benefits of becoming a specialist

  1. Joining ASAM you are a member of a distinguished community of physicians whose priority is the advancement of patient care and safety.
  2. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recognizes ABPM certified  addiction medicine specialists as eligible for reimbursement.  There is a specific taxonomy code approved by CMS for Addiction Medicine that went into effect April 2019 which can be used for National Provider Identifier (NPI) applications.
  3. Divisions of addiction services in several state health departments require that medical directors of public treatment programs be certified addiction specialists..[2]
  4. SAMHSA’s federal guidelines for OTPS specify that it is preferred that OTP medical directors be board certified in their primary medical specialty and in addiction medicine or addiction psychiatry. [2]


[2] Divisions of addiction services in several state health departments require that medical directors of public treatment programs be ASAM-Certified (the certification process that was the predecessor to ABAM’s and ABPM’s processes of certifying physician specialists). These states include Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, and North Carolina. Other states such as Wisconsin, recognize ABAM and ASAM certification as a measure of physician knowledge and skills to treat patients with addiction and hold clinical leadership positions in state-certified treatment agencies and programs.

Updated 6/1/2020

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What about ABAM Diplomats who are ineligible to take the ABPM exam?

  • Who recognizes addiction medicine as a specialized area of medical practice?

  • What does FASAM and DFASAM mean?

  • What are other resources about addiction specialists?

  • How to find an addiction specialist?