Addiction medicine is now officially a subspecialty recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). The group made the decision to recognize the subspecialty at an October 2015 meeting, according to a statement from the American Board of Preventive Medicine, which sponsored the subspecialty application.
The AMBS recognition opens the doors for:
- Physicians to become ABMS board certified in addiction medicine.
- The development of more addiction medicine fellowship programs that accept mixed-discipline applicants.
William Morrone, DO, the president of the American Osteopathic Academy of Addiction Medicine, applauds the decision.
“This is one of the top five most important events in the history of addiction medicine in the last 100 years,” he says, noting that 29 out of 29 of the ABMS members voting on the decision were in favor of recognizing the subspecialty.
Dr. Morrone sees this decision leading to better treatment for American patients with substance use disorders because they will be able to more easily seek out a physician who has been specially trained to help them with addiction. Better treatment is desperately needed right now, he notes.
“In 2014, more than 47,000 people died from drug overdoses,” he says. “That’s 10,000 more than the number of people who die from pneumonia in hospitals in a year. We need to get people better treatment to improve public health in America.”
The recognition also gives addiction medicine more credibility, which will help lead to parity for mental health and addiction treatment in terms of reimbursement and coverage, Dr. Morrone says.
Looking forward, Dr. Morrone says he would like to see all hospitals and medical schools develop departments of addiction medicine, and for more addiction medicine questions to be included on board exams.