American Society of Addiciton Medicine

National Prominence — 1970s


In June 1970 at the first annual meeting of the newly formed American Medical Society on Alcoholism (AMSA). The now-national society had a growing membership and encompassed nine regions in America and one in Canada. AMSA’s 1970 meeting foreshadowed larger transformations within both the organization and the larger field of addiction medicine in the following twelve years.

During the decade, a new coalition evolved from addiction medicine’s empirical, decentralized roots and came closer to forging a recognized national voice for the field. New federal policies and laws—most notably, the Comprehensive Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Prevention, Treatment, and Rehabilitation Act of 1970, which set the stage for the creation of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA; 1971), the Special Action Office for Drug Abuse Prevention (SAODAP; 1971) in the White House, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA; 1973)—shaped and responded to patterns in addiction treatment. At the same time, educational programs promoted by the newly formed Association for Medical Education and Research in Substance Abuse (AMERSA) prioritized multidisciplinary teaching and research, as well as the integration of treatment for alcohol and drug use disorders. Hands-on educational programs such as Career Teachers Program of NIAAA and NIDA formalized and expanded the field. As AMSA became a national organization, new and established medical organizations like the precursor of today’s California Society of Addiction Medicine brought different perspectives on addiction, including a focus on physicians in recovery, treatment for substance use disorders in the US military, and the need for insurance reform around treatments for patients with addiction.