Members of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) can be recognized by the letters “FASAM” as part of their professional credential, with the “F” designating “Fellow of.” ASAM supports research that furthers their financial goals and expands use of the ASAM principles of addiction treatment. The ASAM wanted to create a new “Board” specialty in order to control federal grant funds and other public financing. American Society of Addiction Medicine certification (FASAM) is not equivalent to medical board certification. On their website the ASAM admits that its “examination is not a Board examination. ASAM is not a member of the Board of American Board of Medical Specialties, and ASAM Certification does not confer board Certification.” [i]
The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) is has never been recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) as a board specialty. There are professional organizations which provide “Board Specialty” training in medicine and psychiatry. These organizations have clear and stringent guidelines as to who earns the honor and professional status as a “boarded” expert. Credentialing in these specialties as an MD is a challenging process that weeds out those without adequate clinical or academic skills. These ABMS recognized medical specialties include: pediatrics, geriatrics, surgery, psychiatry, neurology, internal medicine, urology, cardiology, anesthesiology, gastroenterology, emergency medicine, radiology, respiratory medicine, endocrinology and many others.
The field of psychology also defines strict guidelines for board certification. The American Board of Professional Psychology was incorporated in 1947 with the support of the American Psychological Association. The ABPP is a unitary governing body of separately incorporated specialty examining boards which assures the establishment, implementation, and maintenance of specialty standards and examinations by its member boards. Through its Central Office, a wide range of administrative support services are provided to ABPP Boards, Board-certified specialists, and the public. Specialization in a defined area within the practice of psychology connotes competency acquired through an organized sequence of formal education, training, and experience. In order to qualify as a specialty affiliated with the ABPP, a specialty must be represented by an examining board which is stable, national in scope, and reflects the current development of the specialty. A specialty board is accepted for affiliation following an intensive self-study and a favorable review by the ABPP affirming that the standards for affiliation have been met. These standards include a thorough description of the area of practice and the pattern of competencies required therein as well as requirements for education, training, and experience, the research basis of the specialty, practice guidelines, and a demonstrated capacity to examine candidates for the specialty on a national level.
In contrast to these accepted board credentials, ASAM certification [ii] requires only a medical degree, a valid license to practice medicine, completion of a residency training program in ANY specialty, and one year’s full time involvement plus 50 additional hours of medical education in the field of alcoholism and other drug dependencies. ASAM does not require any specific formal training or experience in the diagnosis and treatment of physical or mental illness. But regardless of the lack of training in these fields, the state physician health programs have extended their outreach into areas in which they have no professional qualifications. In most of today’s state physician health programs, “Regardless of setting or duration, essentially all treatment provided to these physicians (95%) was 12-step oriented.” [iii] In these programs, ASAM practitioners routinely impose their spiritually-based 12-step abstinence recovery program. This system is imposed on medical professionals through threats to remove medical licenses or curtail practice or hospital privileges.
[ii] The ASAM certification process now included board certification by the ABAM. http://www.asam.org/Certification_home.html In 2009, The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) transferred the certification examination to the American Board of Addiction Medicine (ABAM), and the next examination will be offered by ABAM on December 1, 2012 and in subsequent years. A physician certified by ABAM is board certified. For More information please visit the ABAM Web site at www.abam.net.
[iii] DuPont, R.L.; McLellan, A.T.; White, W.L., Merlo LJ, Gold MS. Setting the Standard for Recovery: Physicians’ Health Programs, Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. 2009;36:159-171.