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SAMHSA Announces New Report Describing Key Elements of a Core Curriculum for Substance Use Disorder

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Yesterday, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), announced a new report with core curriculum content for integration of substance use disorder (SUD) treatment for early-career graduate health care education programs.

The Core Curriculum Elements on Substance Use Disorder for Early Academic Career, Medical and Health Professions Education Programs report is based on work SAMHSA conducted on core training elements developed in response to the Medication Access and Training Expansion (MATE) Act, incorporating recommendations from experts in health care education. It supports several federal efforts to expand education on SUD for the health professional workforce and was initially called for in the Biden-Harris Administration’s National Drug Control Strategy (PDF | 2.6 MB).

The report is designed to provide students in medical and health professional programs with training on SUD early in their academic careers, to ensure they have basic knowledge of strategies to identify, assess and treat addiction, as well as to support recovery.

“With more than 48 million Americans across the country who have a substance use disorder, it is essential that our health care workforce is trained to identify, assess, and treat this chronic disease,” said White House Drug Policy Director Dr. Rahul Gupta. “By including core curriculum on substance use disorder in medical and health professional programs, we will continue our whole-of-society work to reduce stigmatization, increase education, and ultimately, save lives from this disease.”

“I am excited to release the guidance for substance use disorder core curriculum elements, which will reduce stigma and strengthen our health care workforce,” said Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon, Ph.D., HHS Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use and the leader of SAMHSA. “By educating tomorrow's health care professionals with an SUD core curriculum, we can ensure they have the tools they need to identify, assess, treat substance use disorder and support people in recovery.”

The report guidance is applicable to medical, physician assistant, nurse practitioner, nurse, social work, public health and counseling academic programs to provide:

  • Training early in their students’ academic careers about SUD and how to address stigma about this disease.
  • Education that SUD is a chronic, treatable disease, just like diabetes and heart disease.
  • Training needed to increase access to SUD screening, assessments and services for the approximately more than 48 million Americans who have SUDs.

In August 2023, ONDCP and SAMHSA convened expert panels to review core curriculum elements or categories of information that should be integrated into SUD curricula and to provide guidance on integrating the elements into health care education. The panels agreed on several common themes and topics that should be considered as the curriculum is developed and implemented, such as discipline-specific content for physicians, nurses/nurse practitioners, physician assistants, pharmacists and social workers.

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat at To learn how to get support for mental health, drug or alcohol issues, visit If you are ready to locate a treatment facility or provider, you can go directly to or call 800-662-HELP (4357).

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The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA’s mission is to lead public health and service delivery efforts that promote mental health, prevent substance misuse, and provide treatments and supports to foster recovery while ensuring equitable access and better outcomes.

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