The Curriculum

review course

The ASAM 2014 Review Course in Addiction Medicine Curriculum

The ASAM Review Course Curriculum was carefully developed through review of past Board Exam outcomes, interviews with examination planners about areas of weakness in exam results and is specifically mapped to ABAM's 2014 Board Certification/Recertification Blueprint. Each of the 24 sessions reviews content as identified in the Blueprint and draws on the expert knowledge and clinical experience of the Course faculty.


1.         The Neurobiology of Addiction


Animal Models of Addiction


  • Acetylcholine
  • Norepinephrine
  • Dopamine
  • Serotonin
  • Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA)
  • Glutamate and NMDA Receptors
  • Other Amino Acids and Peptides
  • Endogenous Opioids
  • Endocannabinoids

Cellular and Molecular Mechanism in Addiction (Including Neuro-Adaptation, Epigenetic Phenomena, etc.)

Neuro-Imaging of Addiction and Related Phenomena (Craving, Relapse, Recovery, etc.)


2.         Alcohol



Pharmacological Interventions for Alcohol Dependence


3.         Sedatives


Benzodiazepines, Benzodiazepine Receptor Agonists, Barbiturates and Other Sedative-Hypnotics


General Principles in Management of Intoxication and Withdrawal

Management of Alcohol Intoxication and Withdrawal

Management of Sedative-Hypnotic Intoxication and Withdrawal


4.         Opioids


Opioids (Opium, Heroin, Prescription Opioids)

Management of Opioid Intoxication and Withdrawal

Pharmacological Interventions for Opioid Dependence


5.         Stimulants


Cocaine, Amphetamine and Other Stimulants


Management of Other Drug Intoxication and Withdrawal (Cocaine, Stimulants)


6.         Cannabis



Management of Other Drug Intoxication and Withdrawal (Cannabinoids)


7.         Tobacco


Nicotine and Tobacco

Management of Other Drug Intoxication and Withdrawal (Nicotine)

Pharmacological Interventions for Tobacco Dependence


8.         Other Classes of Drugs


Hallucinogens (LSD, Mescaline, Psilocybin, and Other Hallucinogens)

Dissociatives (Phencyclidine, Ketamine, Dextromethorphan and Other Dissociatives)

Inhalants (Nitrous Oxide, Hydrocarbons and Other Inhalants)

Anabolic Steroids

Management of Other Drug Intoxication and Withdrawal (Phencyclidine, Hallucinogens, Dissociatives, Inhalants, Steroids)

Pharmacologic Interventions for Other Drug Dependence

Pharmacological Interventions for Non-Substance Related Addictions


9.         Special Topic:  Taking the ABAM Examination



 10.       History of Addiction Treatment


History of Addiction Medicine

Treatment of Alcohol Use Disorders

Treatment of Drug Use Disorders

Linking Addiction Treatment With Other Medical and Psychiatric Treatment

Alternative Therapies for Alcohol and Drug Addiction

Non-Substance Addictions: Gambling, Sex, Food

Treatment Needs of Children and Adolescents

Treatment Needs of Seniors

Quality Management in Addiction Treatment

  • Outcome Measurement
  • Satisfaction Measurement
  • Performance Evaluation 

11.       Epidemiology


Epidemiologic Associations and Interpretation


  • Vital Statistics and Demography
  • Describing Data
  • Hypothesis Testing
  • Meta-Analysis
  • Measurements of Morbidity and Mortality

Incidence, Prevalence, and Initiation


12.       Definitions, the ASAM Criteria and the DSM-5



  • Addiction
  • Addiction Medicine
  • Unhealthy Use
  • Dependence
  • Withdrawal
  • Detoxification
  • Substance-Related Disorders
  • ICD-10 Diagnostic Categories


ASAM Patient Placement Criteria and Appropriate Use of Levels of Care


13.       Screening, Assessment, and Brief Intervention



  • Laboratory Tests
  • Clinical Drug Testing
  • Standard Questionnaires
  • Adults
  • Adolescents
  • Pregnant Women

      Brief Intervention
  • Ambulatory Care Settings
  • Pregnant Outpatients
  • Adolescent Outpatients
  • Emergency Departments
  • Hospital Inpatient Settings

14.       Principles of Pharmacology and Toxicology


Drug Metabolism and Principles of Drug Interactions (Including the Impact of Addictive Drug   Use on the Metabolism of Common Therapeutic Medications)




Physical Dependence



Impact of Route of Drug Administration (Oral, Sublingual, Intravenous, Inhalation, Intramuscular, etc.)


Alcohol and Drug Use in the Workplace:

  • Clinical and Legal Considerations in Drug Testing
  • Workplace Drug Testing
  • Medical Review Officer (MRO) Responsibilities and Authority

 15.       Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Motivational Interviewing


Psychological Aspects of Alcohol and Drug Use, Intoxication and Addiction (Including “Set and Setting,” Placebo and Expectation)

Patient Engagement and Securing Treatment Entry

Motivating Patients to Change

Individual Psychotherapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

  • Relapse Prevention
  • Community Reinforcement and Vouchers
  • Contingency Management
  • Matrix Model

 16.       Twelve-Step Facilitation and Other Psychosocial Interventions


Group Therapy

Self-Help Groups

  • Twelve-Step programs and 12-Step Facilitation Therapies
  • Other Self-Help Programs

Couples and Family Counseling, Therapies and Interventions

Residential Treatment and Therapeutic Communities

Treatment Retention and Chronic Disease Management

Comprehensive Case Management (Use of Integrated Medical Care and Supplemental Services for Persons with Chronic, Persistent Addiction)

Translating Research to Practice

Principles of Integrating Behavioral and Pharmacological Treatment


17.       Psychiatric Co-Morbidities


Neuropsychological Dysfunction (Problems With Attention, Memory, Learning, Executive Function)

Substance-Induced Mental Disorders

Affective Disorders

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Other Anxiety Disorders

Psychotic Disorders

Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

Eating Disorders

Personality Disorders


18.       Medical Co-Morbidities


Management of Alcohol and Drug Withdrawal Among Those Hospitalized for an Acute Co-Morbid Condition (Including Critical Care Detoxification)

General Medical Evaluation and Management

General Medical and Surgical Complications

  • Cardiovascular Consequences
  • Hepatic Disorders
  • Other Gastrointestinal Disorders
  • Renal and Metabolic Disorders
  • Respiratory Disorders
  • Neurological Disorders
  • Infectious Diseases (HIV, TB, Sexually Transmitted Infections and Others)
  • Hematologic Disorders
  • Sleep Disorders
  • Acute Traumatic Injuries
  • Rehabilitation From Traumatic Brain Injuries and Spinal Cord Injuries
  • Terminal Illness, Palliative medicine and End-of-Life Issues
  • Endocrine and Reproductive Disorders



19.       Genetics, Pregnancy, and Women’s Health


Heritability of Risk for Addition

Epigenetic Phenomena Related to Addiction

Genetic Predictors of Treatment Response

Special Populations:

  • Women
  • Pregnant Women and Newborns

Pharmacologic and Non-Pharmacologic Intervention for Neonatal Intoxication and Withdrawal for Opioids and Sedatives

Management of Adverse Impact and Long-Term Consequences of Alcohol on the Fetus

Obstetrical Complications and Pregnancy-Related Disorders and Complications

Drug Exposure, Including Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

Cognitive and Behavioral Diagnoses Secondary to In-Utero Alcohol and Drug Exposure


20.       Adolescents, Young Adults, and the Elderly 


Special Populations:

  • Injury/Trauma
  • The Elderly
  • Adolescents and Young Adults
  • Families With Alcohol and Other Drug Using Members (Including Children at Risk)

Adolescent Relapse Prevention



21.       Pain and Addiction


Musculoskeletal and Orthopedic Problems

Chronic Non-Cancer Pain and Addiction

Psychological Issues in the Management of Pain

Non-Opioid Treatments in the Management of Pain

Opioid Treatments in the Management of Pain

Legal and Regulatory Considerations in Pain Management


22.       Prevention, Public Health, and Harm Reduction


Primary Prevention

Secondary Prevention

Tertiary Prevention

Environmental Interventions to Reduce Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Use

Prevention Programs

  • High Risk Populations
  • Educational Approaches
  • Community Organizational Approaches

Public Policy Approaches
Regulation of Supply
Demand Reduction

 23.       Addiction in the Workplace


Alcohol and Drug Use in the Workplace

  • General Trends and Operational Definitions of Use/Dependence in the Workplace
  • Adverse Effects
  • Absenteeism
  • Injury: Occupational and Non-Occupational
  • Implications for Health Care Utilization

Employee Assistance and Prevention Programs

Fitness for Duty Evaluations

Substance Use Disorders in Health Professionals

  • Epidemiology
  • Intervention, Treatment and Monitoring

24.       Ethics and the Law


Ethical issues in Addiction Practice

Informed Consent and Confidentiality in Clinical Practice and Clinical Research

Clinical and Legal Considerations in Prescribing Drugs for Treatment of Addiction

Clinical and Legal Considerations in the Treatment of Minors

  • Adolescent School-Based Drug Testing

Drug Courts and the Treatment of Incarcerated Populations

Licensing and Credentialing Issues for Health Professionals

Forensic Addiction Medicine: Expert Witness and Civil Commitment

Competency and the Assessment of Competence

Environmental Tobacco Smoke

Disability and Substance Use

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Medical Futility and End-Stage Addiction

Therapeutic Pessimism/Nihilism and Pseudo-Futility

Addiction Services Administration