Addiction medicine

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Addiction medicine is a medical specialty that deals with the treatment of addiction. The specialty often crosses over into other areas, since various aspects of addiction fall within the fields of public health, psychology, social work, mental health counseling, psychiatry, and internal medicine, among others.


Addiction Medicine is a medical specialty that deals with the treatment of addiction, which can include substance use disorders and behavioral addictions. The field aims to prevent, evaluate, diagnose, treat, and recover from the disease of addiction.


Addiction Medicine encompasses a wide range of approaches, including detoxification, rehabilitation, and long-term medication management. It often involves a comprehensive approach to therapy, incorporating both medication and counseling.


The field of Addiction Medicine has grown significantly over the years, recognizing addiction as a complex, chronic brain disorder, not a moral failing or solely a behavioral issue.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Professionals in Addiction Medicine are trained to recognize and treat the psychological and physical symptoms of addiction, which may involve:

  • Detoxification: The process of allowing the body to rid itself of a drug while managing the symptoms of withdrawal.
  • Rehabilitation: Programs designed to help individuals stop using drugs or alcohol.
  • Pharmacotherapy: Using medication to treat addiction, such as methadone for opioid addiction.
  • Psychotherapy: Counseling methods like cognitive-behavioral therapy to address the mental health aspects of addiction.

Substance Use Disorders

A substance use disorder (SUD) is a condition in which the use of one or more substances leads to a clinically significant impairment or distress. Addiction Medicine addresses a range of substances, including:

Behavioral Addictions

Beyond substances, Addiction Medicine also addresses behavioral addictions such as:

Preventive Measures

Addiction Medicine also focuses on preventive measures like education on the risks of drug use and early intervention to prevent the escalation of substance use.

Training and Certification

Physicians specializing in this field are often certified by the American Board of Preventive Medicine (ABPM) or the American Board of Addiction Medicine (ABAM), indicating they have the knowledge and skills to provide prevention, screening, intervention, and treatment for substance use and addiction.


The field faces challenges such as the ongoing opioid epidemic, the need for more trained specialists, and ensuring access to care for all who need it.

List of addiction medicine doctors (USA)

See Also


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Contributors: Prab R. Tumpati, MD