Is it time for a revolution in addiction care services?

David Mee-Lee, MD, a highly respected clinician and leader in the design and development of the world’s single most used criteria for substance use patient care matching-American Society on Addiction Medicine (ASAM) Patient Placement Criteria-has written an article for Addiction Professional about the urgent need for changes, or in his words “revolution,” in the design and delivery of addiction services. Why? According to Dr. Mee-Lee, healthcare reform coupled with greater awareness that more needs to be done to help the more than 20 million addicted people who haven’t accessed treatment, will create even more burden on an already thinly stretched workforce.

As if healthcare reform and increased awareness aren’t big enough challenges to overcome, a new edition of the ASAM Patient Placement Criteria, to be known only as “The ASAM Criteria,” is coming this month. And this new edition expands clinical levels of care. Here are just two examples. Level 0.5 early interventional services will now include earlier identification of problematic use and brief treatment in generalist or specialty care as needed. The new criteria also call for more “ongoing” care of chronic conditions. In other words, Traditional Level 1 (outpatient treatment) moves beyond simply accessing care to include continuing care and recovery support.

While admitting the word “revolution” may be strong, Dr. Mee-Lee admits system capacities and workforce development are moving at a “glacial speed” to prepare for the true magnitude of need within a workforce already at capacity and being held more accountable than ever for better outcomes.

A copy of the article can be found here.

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