Addiction is a chronic brain disease and there are treatments available to help patients.

Founded in 1954, ASAM is a professional society representing over 3,600 physicians, clinicians and associated professionals in the field of addiction medicine. ASAM is dedicated to increasing access and improving the quality of addiction treatment, educating physicians and the public, supporting research and prevention, and promoting the appropriate role of physicians in the care of patients with addiction.

Addiction is a chronic brain disease. Forty million Americans ages 12 or older – or more than 1 in 7 people - have addiction involving nicotine, alcohol or other drugs. This is more than the number of Americans with heart conditions (27 million), diabetes (26 million) or cancer (19 million). Addiction is costly to our Nation, exacting more than $700 billion annually in costs related to crime, lost work productivity and health care. Studies have documented the effectiveness of treatment with total savings related to health care, reduced drug-related crimes and criminal justice exceeding costs by a ratio of 12 to 1.Too often, however, addiction goes untreated, with estimates that only 10 percent of people who need treatment receive it.

ASAM membership offers the opportunity to develop public policies, design continuing education programs, educate legislators, network with peers and attend world-renowned courses in the field of addiction medicine. ASAM has 39 state and regional chapters throughout the United States that involve members in local activities, education and state advocacy efforts.

ASAM regularly develops and releases policy statements on issues affecting addiction and treatment at the federal and state levels. Recent policies cover topics such as use of naloxone; measures to counteract prescription drug misuse and diversion; and access to medications to treat opioid addiction. ASAM regularly brings members to Washington, DC, to meet with legislators and policymakers to educate them about the issues important to ASAM members, and the patients and families they serve. ASAM has held a seat in the AMA House of Delegates since 1988 that provides the opportunity to address addiction-related policy issues across medicine.

ASAM has been an ACCME-accredited provider of continuing education since 1977, and is a recognized leader in the planning and presentation of educational events in the addiction field. ASAM’s educational programs prepare physicians and clinicians to translate the power of science into high-quality services for patients, their families, and communities. Through its publications, journal, textbooks, and educational programs, ASAM addresses the most fundamental questions about addiction, ranging from helping physicians and clinicians understand how drugs act on the brain; fostering the dissemination and adoption of new treatment interventions; and responding to emerging problems such as the misuse of prescription drugs.

ASAM is the leader in setting standards and disseminating research for the addiction field. The ASAM Criteria, whose development started over 20 years ago, defines systematic rules to determine the level of care that is needed based upon a patient’s current mental, emotional and social situation. After years of research validating their effectiveness, The ASAM Criteria are now widely recognized and are required in some form in 33 states. In addition to The ASAM Criteria, ASAM recently released guidelines on medications to treat addiction involving opioid use, practice standards for the addiction specialist physician, and associated performance measures.

Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors.

Addiction is characterized by inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioral control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response. Like other chronic diseases, addiction often involves cycles of relapse and remission. Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in disability or premature death.

Read ASAM's full Definition of Addiction.

ASAM Information Flyer

ASAM Year in Review

Learn what ASAM has been doing to help you and your practice - Connect • Advocate • Educate • Treat

The ASAM 2014 Year in Review

ASAM Mission

  • increase access to and improve the quality of addiction treatment;
  • to educate physicians (including medical and osteopathic students), other health care providers and the public;
  • to support research and prevention;
  • to promote the appropriate role of the physician in the care of patients with addiction;
  • and to establish addiction medicine as a specialty recognized by professional organizations, governments, physicians, purchasers and consumers of health care services, and the general public.

ASAM History

Milestones in ASAM’s history.

ASAM’s Founder Ruth Fox
Timeline of ASAM History
Past Presidents
The ASAM Annual Conference (formerly the Annual Medical-Scientific Conference)

Who we are

The Board of Directors, rosters for ASAM Councils, Committees, Action Groups & Workgroups, etc.

Ruth Fox Scholarships
Fellows of ASAM (FASAM)
2014 Election

ASAM's Constitution and Bylaws

Constitution and Bylaws


Support Catalog

Jobs at ASAM

Learn more about employment opportunities and the benefits of working for ASAM in its Washington DC-area location.

ASAM Workplace

Informational Areas

Learn more about ASAM CME, education programs, publications, advocacy, policy, guidelines and membership.

CME and Conferences

Award recognition programs

Awards Program
ASAM Fellow Program

ASAM Publications and Year in Review

Research current health-related court cases and learn how the ASAM's advocacy efforts extend to legal issues.

The 2014 ASAM Year in Review
Publications Home Page
The ASAM Criteria
Principles of Addiction Medicine
Principles of Addiction Medicine: The Essentials
Journal of Addiction Medicine
ASAM Magazine
ASAM Weekly