The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) announces its release of the Standards of Care for the Addiction Specialist Physician. Drafted by a diverse panel of addiction treatment providers, researchers and academicians and clinical outcomes experts, this document enumerates the essential treatment standards that should be met by a physician who manages or oversees the care of a patient with addiction and related disorders.
"Addiction is a medical disease and should be treated as such. Until now, there have never been standards of care that apply to the physician treating addiction," offers Dr. Stuart Gitlow, ASAM's President. "We hope this consensus document raises the bar for what physicians are expected to do when they treat an addicted patient."
Nearly 1 in 10 Americans suffer from a substance use disorder and the related consequences of the disease. Many state and federal lawmakers have declared that addiction is at epidemic levels nationwide and that treatment is a necessary component of any demand reduction strategy. According to Dr. Michael Miller, chair of the multi-specialty work group that oversaw the Standards development, "Standards play an important role in guiding improved physician performance and improved patient outcomes. Patients should expect that the physicians treating their disease are following protocols that yield thorough, effective care."
ASAM has begun working on the development of performance measures that will gauge whether or not these standards have been met. As in other areas of healthcare, there is a growing demand for quality improvement tools that reinforce high quality care. "Disseminating standards of care is only a first step toward improving addiction treatment outcomes," comments Dr. Margaret Jarvis, chair of the Standards Expert Panel. "ASAM looks forward to a collaborative effort among addiction physician specialty and primary care associations and boards, and the federal agencies that help advance addiction treatment, to encourage the wide adoption of these standards in everyday practice."
American Society of Addiction Medicine