There are two routes to becoming an addiction physician specialist: addiction psychiatry, and addiction medicine.
Addiction psychiatry is a subspecialty of psychiatry. Addiction psychiatry certification is bestowed by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, a member board of the American Board of Medical Specialties. Only psychiatrists can receive the addiction psychiatry subspecialty certificate, and psychiatrists interested in this subspecialty must complete a 1-year addiction psychiatry residency that has been accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). About 2,000 psychiatrists have been certified in addiction psychiatry.
Addiction medicine is a specialized field of medical practice, and certification is bestowed by the American Board of Addiction Medicine. ABAM is not a member board of the ABMS. ABAM is taking the necessary steps to gain ABMS recognition. ABAM certification is open to physicians from all specialties who are board certified by an ABMS member board or have completed an ACGME-accredited residency, and who meet ABAM‟s additional criteria to sit for the ABAM certification examination. Addiction medicine has a unique body of knowledge and practice. Training for addiction medicine cannot be subsumed under another, existing medical specialty. As of the end of 2011, there are 2,555 physicians certified in addiction medicine.