Quality & Science

ASAM Releases Consensus Document Outlining Appropriate Use of Drug Testing

by ASAM Staff | July 11, 2017

ROCKVILLE, MD, July 12, 2017 – The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM)’s announced today the release of a new Consensus Document and a suite of resources and trainings that provide practical, evidence-based recommendations on the appropriate use of drug testing for the identification, diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring of patients with or at risk for substance use disorders (SUDs). The document appears in the May/June issue of the Journal of Addiction Medicine, the official journal of ASAM. 

“Given the serious public health impact of untreated addiction, it is important to fully leverage the tool of drug testing to support patient recovery,” comments Dr. Kelly Clark, MD, MBA, DFASAM, President of ASAM.

Evidence-Based Recommendations Guide Providers Towards “Smarter” Drug Testing

The ASAM Consensus Document provides practical guidance on the use of drug testing across the many clinical settings in which addiction treatment is provided. Based on evidence from more than 100 research studies, the document’s recommendations were developed by a multidisciplinary panel, following the RAND/UCLA Appropriateness Method (RAM) which combines scientific evidence with the collective judgement of experts. 

The resulting recommendations focus on when, where and how often it is appropriate to perform drug testing in clinical addiction medicine. Based on expert opinion that drug testing aids in monitoring adherence and abstinence in treatment and can improve patient outcomes, drug testing should be a routine part of initial and ongoing patient assessment of recent substance use in all addiction treatment settings. The consensus recommendations clarify inappropriate uses of drug testing, including the routine use of large, arbitrary test panels, unnecessarily frequent drug testing without consideration for the drug’s window of detection, and the confirmation and quantification of all presumptive positive and negative test results.

The ASAM Consensus Document addresses a wide range of issues encountered in the process of drug testing, including the selection of tests, test scheduling, appropriate responses to test results, and cost considerations. The document also addresses many other elements of testing programs, including documentation and patient confidentiality, practitioner education and expertise, and test facilities and devices. Issues in inpatient and outpatient treatment as well as opioid treatment services are discussed, along with issues related to special populations such as adolescents, pregnant patients, people in recovery, and health and other professionals. The expert panel also makes recommendations for further research to address gaps in each area.

"The current overdose crisis has many people in desperate need of high-quality addiction care, but many, professionals included, have no way of judging the quality of this kind of treatment,” comments Dr. Margaret Jarvis, MD, DFASAM, Chair of ASAM’s Quality Improvement Council. “This document helps to define that high-quality care."

The Drug Testing Consensus Document and product suite will be officially released during a virtual press conference on Wednesday, July 12 at 12:00 p.m. ET. A series of ASAM-sponsored CME trainings for health care professionals to learn how to implement the drug testing recommendations will also be announced.

Registration is available online here