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First Addiction Medicine Residencies Accredited

The American Board of Addiction Medicine (ABAM) Foundation has accredited 10 training programs, the nation’s first postgraduate addiction medicine residencies for physicians. The foundation also released its program requirements and curriculum objectives, national guidelines for addiction medicine residencies.

Trained addiction medicine physicians will now join other addiction professionals in the interdisciplinary care of patients with addictive disorders. Physician specialists in addiction medicine will bring unique skills and competencies to the treatment team, using all appropriate treatment modalities to contribute to prevention and the care of individuals and families.

“Training coupled with passage of our rigorous examination will help assure that evidence-based addiction treatment is available to all who need it,” says Kevin Kunz, MD, the ABAM Foundation president. “Patients will have access to specialized medical care for substance use disorders related to alcohol, tobacco, and other addicting drugs, including some prescription medications.”

The new training programs have been established at a time of increasing promise for addiction treatment and an increased need for trained treatment providers. Recent scientific discoveries have confirmed that addiction is a chronic disease of the brain caused by biological and developmental factors with unique vulnerabilities and pathology and a predictable course, if not interrupted by effective treatment.

An increasing number of medically based addiction treatments have recently become available and more are on the horizon. The demand for addiction medicine physicians will increase as 30 million formerly uninsured Americans (including many in need of addiction treatment) will have health insurance under the healthcare reform law signed last year.

“Accrediting these and future training programs will provide assurance to the American public that addiction medicine physicians have the knowledge and skills to prevent, recognize, and treat addiction, and that trained physicians are available to address common medical or psychiatric conditions related to the use of addictive substances,” says Richard Blondell, MD, chair of the foundation’s training and accreditation committee and a professor of family medicine at the University of Buffalo School of Medicine in New York.

Physician training in addiction medicine is sorely lacking. Separate courses in addiction medicine are rarely taught in medical school, and there are no addiction medicine residencies among the 8,890 residency programs in the nation’s hospitals recognized by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. Prior to the ABAM Foundation’s formation, only one medical specialty (psychiatry) offered subspecialized training and certification in addictions. Once the foundation has demonstrated that the residencies meet the ACGME criteria, it will apply to the ACGME to accredit them.

For more information on the ABAM Foundation and on the ABAM, visit www.abam.net.

— Source: American Board of Addiction Medicine Foundation