American Society of Addiciton Medicine

Advancing Racial Justice and Health Equity

National Advocacy

Advancing Racial Justice and Health Equity

Advocating for policies that shatter the stigma and discrimination surrounding addiction and remove structural barriers that prevent many Americans from accessing quality addiction treatment.

Read our statement
Advancing racial justice

Committing to Change 

Read a letter from ASAM's past president, Dr. Paul Earley, outlining ASAM’s commitment to addressing racial injustice and health disparities. 

Developing New Public Policy Positions

ASAM’s Public Policy Statement on Advancing Racial Justice in Addiction Medicine is the first statement of a policy series through which ASAM reiterates the fundamental axiom that systemic racism is a social determinant of health that has had profound, deleterious effects on the lives and health of people of color.  It focuses on actions that addiction medicine professionals should take to bridge research on social determinants of health and equity in addiction treatment with their clinical interventions and tackle systemic causes of health inequalities.  

Public Policy Statement on Advancing Racial Justice in Health Care through Addiction Medicine 

ASAM’s Public Policy Statement on Advancing Racial Justice in Health Care through Addiction Medicine is the second statement of ASAM’s policy series on racial justice.  This second statement focuses on actions that healthcare professionals, healthcare systems, institutions, and organizations, professional medical entities, researchers, and health professional educators can take to help advance addiction medicine and its role in addressing health disparities for people of color. It highlights the longstanding role of the criminal legal system and child welfare in inappropriately assuming responsibility for, or otherwise interfering upon, clinical decisions for people with substance use disorders (SUD), with the most adverse consequences disproportionately affecting BIPOC. Finally, it highlights the need for clinicians and patients to take responsibility for shared decision making with respect to full-spectrum addiction care.

The completion of this policy series is integral to ASAM’s effort to recognize, understand, and then counteract the adverse effects of America’s historical, pervasive, and continuing systemic racism, specifically with respect to addiction prevention, early intervention, harm reduction, diagnosis, treatment, and recovery.  


Advocating for National Policy Reforms


Diversifying the Addiction Workforce

Learn about ASAM's advocacy to secure funding for programs that would expand access to addiction treatment for underserved communities and diversify the addiction treatment workforce. 

H.R 1693/S.79 -  Eliminating a Quantifiably Unjust Application of the Law Act 

ASAM supports the Eliminating a Quantifiably Unjust Application of the Law Act. This legislation would eliminate the federal crack and powder cocaine sentencing disparity and apply it retroactively to those already convicted or sentenced.  Read more

H.R. 2837/S. 2667 - Making Essentials Available and Lawful (MEAL) Act of 2021  

ASAM supports the Making Essentials Available and Lawful (MEAL) Act of 2021. This important legislation would repeal the lifetime federal ban on individuals with felony drug convictions from receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and/or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits. In addition, it would allow individuals who are incarcerated to apply for SNAP benefits up to 30 days prior to release.  Read more

ASAM supports the Moms Matter Act, which is a bipartisan bill that would increase federal funding for culturally congruent, community-based mental and behavior health programs. Additionally, the Moms Matter Act would empower the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to expand and diversify the maternal mental health care workforce.  Read more.  

H.R. 2503 - Social Determinants Accelerator Act of 2021 

ASAM supports the Social Determinants Accelerator Act of 2021, which would create an inter-agency technical advisory council on social determinants of health (SDOH) to help overcome barriers to coordinating services across sectors and a new federal grant program to assist state, local, and Tribal governments in tackling persistent economic and social conditions that impact the prevention and treatment of chronic medical conditions, including addiction.  Read more.  

Supporting Efforts to Advance Racial Justice and Health Equity throughout the Medical Profession

ASAM applauds and supports the efforts of all medical associations across the nation that champion the advancement of racial justice and health equity throughout academic medicine, the practice of medicine, and beyond.  

The American Medical Association (AMA) has an extensive collection of news and resources dedicated to creating a culturally aware and diverse physician workforce. 

The American College of Academic Addiction Medicine (ACAAM) has taken, and will continue to take, decisive action to ensure the disparities in the access to, and receipt of, treatment for patients with substance use disorders are confronted in the training of tomorrow’s addiction medicine physicians. 

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) compiles education, engagement, and advocacy opportunities to serve the needs of evolving, diverse, underrepresented and underserved patient populations; and work to end disparities in mental health care.  

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) embraces a broad definition of diversity and develops initiatives, data, tools and resources to help its members and the academic medicine community realize this mission. 

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