Physician

Physicians work in a variety of medical settings, and often may work in a team with other health providers. Physician Assistants work with physicians and have certain prescribing responsibilities.

Activities, Skills and Knowledge

Basic knowledge of addictions, plus medication-assisted treatment, detoxification, recovery support.

Physicians can practice independently, in a group practice or in a larger medical setting (clinic or hospital).

Some physicians specialize in addiction medicine, but many non-specialists are integrating simple screening and brief intervention techniques into their practice in order to identify risky behaviors and intervene. This kind of integration is a key part of trends in the health care industry to provide integrated and coordinated services for treatment of the whole person. Many medical practices are integrating primary care, addiction and mental health services. Non-specialists should have a basic understanding of addiction, particularly related to the potential for addiction of any drugs they prescribe and how to screen for addiction in their patients.

Physicians may provide physical care and/or psychiatric care related to addictions. They may also provide specialized Medication-Assisted Treatment through Methadone Maintenance Treatment Programs, or becoming buprenorphine providers. See Opportunities for Advancement for more information.

Educational Requirements

  • Undergraduate degree and completion of Medical School as well as a residency.
  • A residency in Addiction Medicine became available in 2011.
  • An Adult Psychiatry Residency can also provide a specialization in addiction.

Choose a medical school which is accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) for medical schools and a regional accreditation association, such as (for medical schools in New England) the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Undergraduate schools should also be accredited by a regional accreditation association.

Find an accredited Residency through the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.

The Association for Medical Education and Research in Substance Abuse (AMERSA), also has resources.

Licensure/Certification Requirements

For a Physician, the license to practice medicine is supplemented by board certification in a specialty. Board certification in addiction medicine is governed by the American Board of Addiction Medicine (ABAM). Examination is offered by ABAM on December 1 ever other year. A Physician certified by ABAM is board certified.

Board certification is also provided by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN).

For requirements to practice in Massachusetts, see the Board of Registration in Medicine.

Opportunities for Advancement

Practice Development

Physicians who are interested in becoming buprenorphine providers can find information through

For physicians who are interested in providing a Methadone Maintenance Treatment Program, information is available from

Post-Doctoral Programs

Career Development