Advocacy Webpage Graphics Narrow Teach It


The current addiction treatment workforce is severely under-equipped to meet the needs of the millions of Americans living with substance use disorder (SUD).  

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in 2017, an estimated 20.7 million Americans needed treatment for SUD, but only 4 million reported receiving any form of treatment. In addition, in their 2017 report, the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis estimated there are about 4,400 actively practicing certified addiction specialist physicians (addiction medicine and addiction psychiatry) in the U.S. This falls well below the 6,000 addiction specialists needed based on a 2009 estimate, and even that number is now insufficient given the current opioid overdose epidemic.

ASAM advocates for targeted funding to increase the ranks of qualified, well-trained addiction treatment professionals in high-need communities across America and close the current treatment gap.

FY20 Workforce Appropriations Priorities

Mental and Substance Use Disorder Workforce Training Demonstration Program

This program, authorized at $10 million per year in the 21st Century CURES Act, will award grants to institutions such as medical schools and Federally qualified health centers to support training for medical residents and fellows, as well as nurse practitioners, physician assistants and others, to provide substance use disorder treatment in underserved communities.

Loan Repayment Program for Substance Use Disorder Treatment Workforce

This program, authorized at $25 million per year in the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act (H.R. 6), will help people who pursue full-time substance use disorder treatment jobs in high-need geographic areas repay their student loans.

Addiction Medicine Certification

In March 2016, the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) announced the recognition of addiction medicine as a new subspecialty under the American Board of Preventive Medicine (ABPM). ABPM administers the board exam for Addiction Medicine (ADM).

Physicians who have a primary ABMS board (including current addiction medicine specialists with a primary ABMS board certification) may apply to take the exam to become or continue to be an addiction medicine specialist; however, this pathway will expire in 2021.

Upon expiration of the practice-based pathway, a one-year fellowship will be required to become an addiction medicine specialist for those who hold a primary ABMS board certification.

Organizational Resources

Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education

ACGME is an independent, not-for-profit, physician-led organization that sets and monitors the professional educational standards essential in preparing physicians to deliver safe, high-quality medical care to all Americans.

American College of Academic Addiction Medicine

ACAAM works to improve the well-being of patients, families and the public health of communities by promoting excellence in addiction medicine fellowship training and education to current and future generations of physicians in the practice, research, prevention and treatment of substance related conditions and complications, including addiction.