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 Supports Simultaneous Passage of the Medication Access and Training Expansion (MATE) Act and the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment (MAT) Act

August 5, 2021


On August 5, ASAM sent a letter to senior Biden Administration officials reiterating its strong support for simultaneous passage of the bipartisan, bicameral Medication Access and Training Expansion (MATE) Act of 2021 (S. 2235/H.R. 2067) and the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment (MAT) Act of 2021 (S. 445/H.R. 1384). The MATE Act would require most controlled medication prescribers registered with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to have a baseline knowledge of how to identify, treat, and manage patients with substance use disorder (SUD). The MAT Act would eliminate what would then be a clearly redundant requirement that practitioners apply for a separate DEA waiver to prescribe buprenorphine for opioid use disorder (OUD), along with the x-waiver’s patient limits and extra regulatory burdens on buprenorphine for OUD.


ASAM’s letter emphasized that America faces a significant and worsening workforce shortage, both in the addiction space and in healthcare more broadly. By simultaneously passing the MATE and MAT Acts, Congress could dramatically expand the number of clinicians who are trained to treat addiction. It is particularly important that all prescribers of DEA-controlled medications receive training on addiction, as these healthcare professionals often interact with, and have opportunities to provide effective interventions for, individuals with SUD – opportunities to help that are often missed. 


Read the letter here.


Read the MATE Act here.


Read the MAT Act 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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