Our nation needs a stronger addiction treatment workforce to serve the needs of the millions of Americans living with addiction.  

Teach It: Addiction Treatment Workforce

medical-specialist-FI b

Investments in the addiction specialist physician workforce are long overdue. While Addiction Psychiatry is a subspecialty that has been available as a career choice for board certified psychiatrists since 1994, Addiction Medicine was first recognized as an American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) subspecialty in 2016, and it is racing to catch up with other medical specialties and subspecialties in terms of teaching and training opportunities. 

National Initiatives

GOOD NEWS!  The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has posted information about The Addiction Medicine Fellowship (AMF) Program which will expand the number of fellows at accredited AMF and Addiction Psychiatry Fellowship (APF) programs trained as addiction medicine specialists who work in underserved, community-based settings that integrate primary care with mental health disorder and substance use disorder (SUD) prevention and treatment services.  Read more.


S. 348, the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2019, would increase the number of residency positions eligible for graduate medical education payments under Medicare for qualifying hospitals, with an aggregate increase of 3,000 positions per fiscal year for five years. Of these positions, at least 1,500 per fiscal year must be for residents in a shortage specialty residency program (i.e., a program in a specialty in which baseline physician requirements projections exceed the projected supply of total active physicians, as identified by the Health Resources and Services Administration in a specified report).


H.R. 3414, the Opioid Workforce Act of 2019, would create 1,000 additional residency positions over five years to hospitals with addiction medicine, addiction psychiatry, or pain management programs.

Bill Summary


The Mental and Substance Use Disorders Workforce Training Demonstration Program was authorized in the 21st Century CURES Act of 2016. For Fiscal Year 2020, Congress appropriated $26.7 million for this program to award grants to support training in addiction medicine and addiction psychiatry to help underserved communities. ASAM is advocating for Congress to appropriate at least $30 million for this program for Fiscal Year 2021.
The Loan Repayment Program for Substance Use Disorder Treatment Workforce program was authorized at $25 million per year in the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act (H.R. 6). It will help people who pursue full-time substance use disorder treatment jobs in high-need geographic areas repay their student loans. For Fiscal Year 2020, Congress appropriated $12 million for this program. ASAM is advocating for Congress to appropriate at least $25 million for this program in Fiscal Year 2021. 

H.R. 6 - SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act

The SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act was signed into law on October 24, 2018. The bill contains many provisions designed to bolster the addiction treatment workforce. You can read a section by section summary here

  • Encourages increased training on addiction & pain in medical school/residency programs by authorizing $4M in grants for each of FY 2019-2023 to support curriculum development
  • New DATA 2000 waiver pathway for recent medical school graduates who have successfully completed curriculum covering DATA 2000 waiver training elements
  • Loan repayment program for SUD treatment providers practicing in high-need areas (up to $250,000); authorizes $25M for each of FY 2019-2023
  • Physicians board-certified in addiction medicine or addiction psychiatry or qualifying practitioners practicing in a qualified practice setting can immediately treat up to 100 patients with buprenorphine (in lieu of 30)
  • Permanent buprenorphine prescribing authority for NPs and PAs
  • Added qualifying clinical nurse specialists, certified registered nurse anesthetists, and certified nurse midwifes to list of practitioners eligible to prescribe buprenorphine until October 1, 2023

Subscribe to the ASAM Advocate

Your source for timely, useful news briefings of top stories in addiction policy.