Quality & Science

Revisiting ASAM's Commitment to Addressing Racial Injustice and Health Disparities

by | June 4, 2021

Dear ASAM Members: 

The killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor— among others—brought into sharp focus the persistent structural racism and injustices that permeate American life. In a June 12, 2020 letter to ASAM Members, then ASAM president, Paul H. Earley, MD, DFASAM, denounced and challenged these injustices. One year later, ASAM revisits that commitment: 

  • Listening and learning from our members was essential, so we conducted a survey on how ASAM can improve diversity, equity, and inclusion. The results were shared with the Board of Directors and are being integrated into ASAM’s new Strategic Plan. 

  • To educate our members in tackling systemic racism, we developed certified education on racism and diversity, including multiple plenary sessions at the ASAM 2021 Virtual Conference, drawing over 1,000 learners. We will continue to prioritize these topics for both our members and other clinicians in the field of addiction medicine.  

  • ASAM continued to advocate for policies that shatter stigma and expand access, and remove barriers, to quality addiction treatment. We published a policy statement on Advancing Racial Justice in Addiction Medicine and will continue to advocate and educate at the federal and state levels.  

  • ASAM is committed to dismantling structural racism in our own house – including how we cultivate our leaders and determine our strategic priorities. We are conducting a systematic review of internal processes. We created an employee Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee to provide feedback to management and to lead awareness and educational efforts for the 55 staff that support ASAM. Additionally, we have increased recruitment of diverse members for leadership roles and will continue to do so. 

ASAM acknowledges that there is more work to be done. As we continue our journey, we call on our members to continue to share their questions, suggestions, and experiences, as we build a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization—and society. 

Sincerely, 

William F. Haning, III, MD, DLFAPA, DFASAM 

ASAM President