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How to Identify a Physician Recognized for Expertness in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Addiction and Substance-related Health Conditions

Adoption Date:
February 1, 1986; rev. January 15, 2010; rev. July 20, 2016

Public Policy Statement on How to Identify a Physician Recognized for Expertness in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Addiction and Related Health Conditions1


  1. A physician specialist in Addiction Medicine must:
    1. possess a current M.D. or D.O. license.
    2. be able to:
      1. recognize and diagnose addiction as a primary brain illness2 regardless of the substance or behavior involved and to differentiate it from other problems related to seeking of reward and relief;
      2. possess sufficient knowledge and communication skills to prescribe a full range of treatment services at the appropriate level of care for patients as well as for their families or significant others; and<;li>
      3. identify, through screening, risky or unhealthy reward use as well as perform brief interventions, and instruct other health professionals on their team in the techniques of screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT).
    3. demonstrate an empathetic, positive, and hopeful attitude toward the person with addiction as well as toward family members and significant others.
    4. possess the skills needed to motivate patients, their families, or significant others to engage with and enter into appropriate treatment for their needs, and to stay in treatment at the appropriate level of care for an adequate duration of service, as indicated and medically necessary according to standard patient placement criteria.
    5. be able to recognize, manage and/or seek appropriate consultation to address any medical and psychiatric co-occurring conditions
    6. be able to recognize and manage the syndrome of withdrawal when appropriate.
    7. Understand the techniques used in the field of addiction by other disciplines, including intervention, counseling, and group therapy, as well as those of mutual help groups.
    8. Understand the drug testing technology used in the diagnosis and monitoring of addictive disease treatment including the strengths and limits of various technologies for screening and confirmation and the various matrices to be tested.
    9. Understand the neurobiology of addiction, its typology and natural history, and the external reward-based, social, and economic factor that modify its development as well as the appropriate pharmacotherapy in addicted patients including those with comorbid medical and psychiatric disorders.
    10. Understand and appropriately use their state’s prescription drug monitoring program.
  2. Evidence that the physician possesses expert knowledge and skills in Addiction Medicine:
    1. Certification by the American Society of Addiction Medicine or the American Board of Addiction Medicine, or
    2. Subspecialty certification in Addiction Medicine by the American Board of Preventive Medicine, or
    3. Subspecialty certification in Addiction Psychiatry by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, or
    4. A Certificate of Added Qualification in Addiction Medicine conferred by the American Osteopathic Association, or
    5. Completion of an accredited residency/fellowship in Addiction Medicine or Addiction Psychiatry

1Previously titled “How to Identify a Physician Recognized for Expertness in Diagnosis and Treatment of Alcoholism and Other Drug Dependence.”
2See ASAM Public Policy Statement on the Definition of Addiction, Adopted: April 12, 2011.


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  1. Jessica Sep 07, 2018 - 08:01 PM
    As someone looking for resources for my mother (who I am seeking treatment for), this information is incredibly helpful.  The opioid crisis has led to a system where too many facilities are taking advantage of patients. Thank you so much for the info. It is so very important.
  2. bruce tetalman Apr 09, 2013 - 11:42 AM

    Dear Sir or Madam,

    I have been a member of  ASAM for several years and attended many of their conferences.

    I have worked with other pain specialists on a consultant level, but not with an addictionologist. I am board certified in PMandR.. In addition to passing my ASAM boards, what additional requirements would you suggest.

    thank you,

    Bruce Tetalman,MD


    757 323 5516

  3. Emilia Figueroa May 15, 2012 - 02:14 PM

    My name is Emilia Figueroa and I was instructed to ger recertify with your organization, I am a Doctor and Owner operator of several clinics in Mexico (Clinica Integral de Tratamiento Contra las Adiccioones) and in the USA Imperial Valley Drug and Rehab Clinic, Inc. I need to submit my certification and would like to know what documents i need to provide and what forms i need to complete to obtain my certification.


    Thank you,

    Emilia Figueroa


  4. Susana Duncan, MD Feb 16, 2012 - 09:08 PM

    please tell me about the certification in Addiction Medicine, what courses and clinical exposure is required.

    Thank you

    Leave a comment