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Practice of Addiction Medicine

Adoption Date:
April 1, 1993

Public Policy Statement on the Practice of Addiction Medicine


**Note: This historical policy statement is available as part of ASAM's Policy Archives, but it is no longer considered current ASAM policy. Please contact ASAM's advocacy staff at advocacy@asam.org for questions related to ASAM's position on this topic.


The field of Addiction Medicine in the United States has developed during the past five or six decades through both clinical and research advances. Early leadership in this field came from several specialties as well as from general medicine. The body of knowledge that constitutes Addiction Medicine has grown further with input from diverse branches of medicine, including Internal Medicine, Family Practice, Psychiatry, Pediatrics, Emergency Medicine, Anesthesiology, Obstetrics/Gynecology and others.

The ASAM certification in Addiction Medicine reflects this multi-specialty background by admitting physicians with a variety of training experiences to its certification exam. In recent years, physician services are increasingly provided by organized health care systems such as health maintenance organizations, preferred provider networks and other similar arrangements. Several of these organizations have limited payment for the provision of addiction medicine services to a single medical specialty, irrespective of training or experience in addiction medicine, while rejecting physicians with addiction medicine training and experience whose residency level training was in any other specialty.

Policy Recommendations:

The American Society of Addiction Medicine recommends that:

1. Medical treatment for psychoactive substance use disorders should be provided by physicians with training, experience and competence in addiction medicine.

2. This training, experience and competence may be obtained by physicians trained in a variety of medical specialties. Therefore, recognition of those who practice addiction medicine should be accorded to all physicians who have the appropriate medical background, training, and skills, and should not be limited to physicians trained in any particular one of the 24 specialties recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties, or the specialties recognized by the American Osteopathic Association.