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

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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. 

ASAM Weighs in on ONDCP’s 2022 National Drug Control Strategy

July 6, 2021


On July 6, ASAM sent a letter to the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) responding to a request for input on its 2022 National Drug Control Strategy. ASAM’s comments include recommendations that would strengthen the addiction medicine workforce, standardize the delivery of individualized addiction care, ensure equitable access and coverage for comprehensive, high-quality addiction care, and reduce barriers to accessing evidence-based addiction treatment.


Specifically, ASAM’s letter urged ONDCP to advance initiatives in alignment with a plethora of legislation under consideration by Congress. These efforts include legislation to improve access to addiction treatment for individuals who are incarcerated, increase access to care through Medicaid, empower clinicians to treat addiction through telehealth, and improve parity compliance among various insurers. 


ASAM also encouraged ONDCP to implement other initiatives to combat the country’s addiction crisis. These initiatives include encouraging state Medicaid programs to adopt two new sets of bundled G codes, approval of a prescription to over the counter (OTC) switch for at least one naloxone product, and regulatory changes that would allow Medicaid reimbursement for the room and board portion of SUD residential levels of care that meet certain standards, among many other efforts. 


Read the letter here.



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.


Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2021

S.834, the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2021, would gradually raise the number of Medicare-supported GME positions by 2,000 per year for seven years, for a total of 14,000 new slots. A share of these positions would be targeted to hospitals with diverse needs including hospitals in rural areas, hospitals serving patients from health professional shortage areas (HPSAs), hospitals in states with new medical schools or branch campuses, and hospitals already training over their caps.


Opioid Workforce Act (S. 1438) / Substance Use Disorder Workforce Act (HR 3441)

This legislation would create 1,000 additional residency positions over five years to hospitals with addiction medicine, addiction psychiatry, or pain management programs.



The Mental and Substance Use Disorders Workforce Training Demonstration Program was authorized in the 21st Century CURES Act of 2016. For Fiscal Year 2021, Congress appropriated $29.7 million for this program to award grants to support, among other things, training in addiction medicine and addiction psychiatry to help underserved communities. ASAM is advocating for Congress to continue appropriations for this vital program for Fiscal Year 2022.
The Substance Use Disorder Treatment and Recovery Loan Repayment Program (STAR-LRP), established in 2018 by the landmark SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act , helps people repay their student loans if they pursue full-time substance use disorder treatment jobs in high-need geographic areas. On June 8, 2021, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) launched the program with $28 million.  ASAM is advocating for Congress to appropriate at least $28 million for this program in Fiscal Year 2022. 

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

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