What is an Addiction Medicine Physician?

An addiction medicine physician is a physician trained and certified to provide comprehensive care for addiction and substance related disorders, including the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of such health conditions. Addiction medicine physicians are board-certified in another medical specialty prior to meeting requirements for board certification in addiction medicine by the American Board of Preventive Medicine*.

The addiction medicine physician provides medical care within the bio-psycho-social framework for persons with addiction, for the individual with substance-related health conditions, for persons who manifest unhealthy substance use, and for family members whose health and functioning are affected by another’s substance use or addiction.

The addiction medicine physician is specifically trained in a wide range of prevention, evaluation and treatment modalities addressing substance use and addiction in ambulatory care settings, acute care and long-term care facilities, psychiatric settings, and residential facilities. Addiction medicine specialists often offer treatment for patients with addiction or unhealthy substance use who have co-occurring general medical and psychiatric conditions.

The addiction medicine physician is a key member of the health care team and is trained to coordinate and provide consultation services for other physicians and to use community resources when appropriate. Some addiction medicine physicians limit their practice to patients with addiction or other patterns of unhealthy substance use. Others focus their practice on patients within their initial medical specialty who have substance-related health conditions. Addiction medicine physicians work in clinical medicine, public health, educational, and research settings to advance the prevention and treatment of addiction and substance-related health conditions and to improve the health and functioning of persons with unhealthy substance use or who are affected family members of unhealthy substance users.

Scope of Practice of Addiction Medicine, March 6, 2012; Copyright 2012

American College of Academic Addiction Medicine, Inc.

*In July 2019 the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) House of Delegates approved the development of a clinical practice pathway to facilitate subspecialty board certification in addiction medicine. A physician can obtain subspecialty certification in addiction medicine through the AOA or American Board of Preventive Medicine.