ASAM Criteria Offers a Look at What’s New and How to Apply It

Applying the principles of ASAM Criteria in daily practice was the focus of Thursday’s “ASAM Criteria Book and Software Live Course.” The course provided attendees with an opportunity to study the most widely used and comprehensive set of guidelines for placement, continued stay, and transfer/discharge of patients with addiction and co-occurring conditions.

“The course provided clinicians with resources they can apply to their practices upon their return home,” said David Mee-Lee, MD, ABAM Diplomate, Chief Editor of The ASAM Criteria and Senior Vice President of The Change Companies, Carson City, Nevada. “We reviewed a number of new updates and changes, beginning with a new title—The ASAM Criteria: Treatment Criteria for Addictive, Substance-Related, and Co-Occurring Conditions. We’re shifting away from the term ‘placement’ criteria to ‘treatment’ criteria, as it’s more than just ‘placement.’”

Dr. Mee-Lee and David Gastfriend, MD, ABAM Diplomate, were the course’s co-chairs.

A short list of what’s new, according to Dr. Mee-Lee, includes changing Diagnostic Admission Criteria terminology to be compatible with DSM-5, the addition of a section on working with managed care, restructuring the table of contents, highlighting adolescent-specific issues and criteria, shifting terminology from “detoxification” to “withdrawal management,” and opioid use disorder specialized services. The ASAM Criteria, he said, unifies the addiction field around a single set of criteria.

The workshop should help participants apply the criteria across a variety of settings with different populations—older adults, criminal justice settings, parents with children, and persons in safety-sensitive occupations. Speakers discussed how to use the criteria and software in working effectively with managed care and payers.

Dr. Gastfriend, Senior Advisor at Treatment Research Institute, Philadelphia, and President and CEO of RecoverySearch, Inc., Newton, Massachusetts, led a portion of the session on The ASAM Criteria Software.

 “ASAM is on the verge of launching a new era in patient intake, assessment, and treatment planning. The new ASAM Criteria Software is poised to unify the evaluation of patients. There is no reason in our modern world someone has to get a different evaluation in Peoria than in Poughkeepsie. It makes no sense for the luck of the draw to subject one patient to a novice counselor when another can end up with an expert,” Dr. Gastfriend said. “The knowledge base needs to be the same for all. Managed care expects no less from us, and the same should be true for patients and their families. This course provided the strong foundation for understanding the criteria and the software and how they work together.”

As the chief architect for the software, Dr. Gastfriend reviewed its purpose, use, and the history of research that led to its validation for national adoption. He also described how SAMHSA has sponsored the development of this latest version, and using it to lead the field of addiction medicine forward. The ASAM Criteria Software is currently undergoing a National Demonstration Phase with more than 20 sites using the software before its commercial launch later this year.