Quality & Science

ASAM Applauds Launch of HRSA Substance Use Disorder Treatment and Recovery Loan Repayment Program

by | June 8, 2021

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The $28 million program launched by the Health Resources and Services Administration today is a major step forward in strengthening the nation’s addiction treatment workforce at a critical juncture in America’s overdose epidemic


Rockville, MD - The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) applauds the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) for launching a new program that will encourage more medical students and health care professionals to pursue a career treating addiction at a time when the drug overdose crisis has been accelerating. The Substance Use Disorder Treatment and Recovery Loan Repayment Program (STAR-LRP), established by the landmark SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act of 2018, will provide up to $250,000 in eligible educational loans to individuals who pledge a six-year, full-time minimum service commitment to treating addiction. 

Starting June 8, aspiring addiction treatment professionals can apply to the $28 million program, which is the culmination of successful advocacy efforts by ASAM and other stakeholders that resulted in Congressional appropriations of $12 million in FY20 and $16 million in FY21. 

“We commend Congress and the HRSA for their steadfast support of the Substance Use Disorder Treatment and Recovery Loan Repayment Program, which will strengthen our country’s addiction treatment infrastructure and ultimately save lives,” said Dr. William Haning, president of ASAM. “With national drug overdose deaths at record levels, there are still too few healthcare providers with both the requisite knowledge and training to prevent, identify, and treat addiction. We must meet the magnitude of the crisis proportionately by bolstering the addiction treatment workforce and expanding access to evidence-based treatments.  The energies that we dedicate to this class of illnesses will be reflected in the health and happiness of millions of Americans initially – and ultimately, by example, across the world.” 

The STAR-LRP is open to health care professionals in a wide range of eligible health care disciplines and specialties including addiction medicine physicians, psychiatrists, health service psychologists, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, licensed social workers, and peer recovery specialists. There is no need to be a recent graduate in order to apply.  

In addition, the program is open to professionals who will work in eligible substance use disorder treatment facilities, which include private practices, opioid treatment programs, federally qualified health centers, emergency departments, health system affiliated inpatient treatment centers, residential treatment centers, and state or federal correctional sites. The facility can be located in a Mental Health Professional Shortage Area or in county where the drug overdose rate for the past three years is higher than the most recent national average. 

Since Addiction Medicine was first recognized as an American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) subspecialty in 2016, the field has been racing to catch up with other medical specialties and subspecialties in terms of teaching and training opportunities. The STAR-LRP represents a significant milestone in ongoing advocacy efforts to bolster the addiction medicine physician workforce.

“By incentivizing more students and professionals to specialize in the prevention and treatment of addiction, today’s launch of the Substance Use Disorder Treatment and Recovery Loan Repayment Program signals a major step forward in the effort to broaden access to treatment for all Americans affected by substance  misuse and addiction.  This benefit will be felt particularly by high-need communities,” said Haning.


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Rebecca Reid