Strengthening Patient-Centered Addiction Care

Strengthening Patient-Centered Addiction Care

December 2, 2021

Strategies for expanding access to evidence-based substance use disorder services.

Potential Pathway

  1. Expand provider use of The ASAM Criteria throughout patient placement and care delivery.
  2. Leverage The ASAM Criteria with payers and SUD providers for ensuring affordable access to the full continuum of care for people with SUD (substance use disorder).
  3. Ensure accountability for payer use of The ASAM Criteria in coverage decisions.
  4. Support understanding of The ASAM Criteria among those who provide, cover, or use SUD services.

Strategies for Expanding Access to Evidence-Based SUD Services

  • Pharmacotherapy for addiction treatment (e.g., methadone, buprenorphine, naltrexone, acamprosate and disulfiram) and opioid overdose (e.g., naloxone), including by explicitly prohibiting providers from refusing the treatment of people who have been prescribed medications for their substance use disorder.
  • Underutilized, evidence-based treatment modalities, such as contingency management, which is particularly important for individuals with stimulant use disorder;
  • Evidence-based harm reduction initiatives, including syringe services programs and community-based naloxone programs; and
  • Evidence-based recovery support services that include a robust role for supportive peers with lived experience.

For The ASAM Criteria to work as intended, people with SUD should have access to the full continuum of care as defined in The ASAM Criteria. Because addiction is a chronic condition, individuals with SUD may move into and out of treatment and recovery in a nonlinear fashion. They may need a less intensive level of care as they progress in treatment, or their progress may stall and require more intensive services. When individuals cannot enter or transition to the appropriate level of care consistent with their evolving needs, they face higher risk of relapse and worse behavioral and physical health outcomes.

Components of The ASAM Criteria


Guyer, J., et al. Speaking the same language: a toolkit for strengthening patient-centered addiction care in the United States. American Society of Addiction Medicine. Published November 9, 2021.

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