Substance Use

ASAM Levels of Care & Criteria

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ASAM Levels of Care & Criteria

ASAM’s nine levels of care (from Level 0.5 to Level 4) coincide with six dimensions within ASAM’s addiction assessment. ASAM Level 4 is the most serious. The American Society of Addiction Medicine, or ASAM, was created in 1954. ASAM’s aim is to bring addiction treatment specialists, physicians, counselors, and other medical professionals together to improve substance abuse treatments, provide education within the medical profession, and help the general public learn about addiction and treatment.

ASAM set specific levels of care, treatment criteria, and the dimensions of addiction to help providers gauge the level of addiction and type of treatment required.

If you or a loved one is struggling with the physical, behavioral, and mental health challenges of addiction and co-occurring conditions, you’re not alone—and Zinnia Health can help. Call us at (855) 430-9439 to speak with our compassionate addiction treatment providers and learn how you can heal for good.  

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What Are the ASAM Criteria?

Before we get into ASAM care levels, it’s important to understand ASAM’s criteria: the six dimensions medical professionals use to make a level of care diagnosis and subsequent treatment plan. ASAM criteria were developed to help treatment specialists assess an individual’s required care level. ASAM criteria guidelines borrow from addiction treatment studies initiated in the 1980s. 

These criteria assess the intensity of services needed by exploring a client’s needs biologically, emotionally, and socially, addressing these needs, strengths, weaknesses, available resources, current social support system, and other aspects of their life. Today, ASAM criteria are the most widely used and accepted method to determine placement into and transfer between addiction treatment programs, as well as treatment discharge.

ASAM criteria assist various professionals and agencies when deciding how much care, treatment, and oversight an addicted person requires in their current status and accounts for the degree of safety required.

The ASAM Dimensions

ASAM dimensions comprehensively review every aspect of an individual’s life to help determine the level of care they require. These six ASAM dimensions are as follows:

  • Dimension 1: explores and assesses current and past use of substances, how difficult current withdrawal may be, if the individual has a history of withdrawal symptoms, and what those symptoms have been.
  • Dimension 2: reviews the person’s biomedical conditions, including medical and health history.
  • Dimension 3: takes a look at a person’s emotional health, cognitive conditions, and behavioral health conditions, concerns, and complications.
  • Dimension 4: looks into how willing and ready an individual is to change and refrain from substance use and abuse.
  • Dimension 5: accounts for past attempts at quitting, relapses, and other potential issues that can point to future moderate to intense relapse potential.
  • Dimension 6: assesses the person’s usual living situation and if that environment can contribute to continued problem potential and hinder a successful recovery.

Each dimension looks at what you need for recovery, your strengths and weaknesses, your support system or lack of support, current coping skills, and other variables to help a treatment provider recognize the level of care most appropriate when you seek treatment.

What People or Entities Use ASAM Criteria?

These criteria are most often used by:

  • Treatment providers: Addiction care specialists, clinicians, counselors, and other medical professionals use ASAM criteria when developing individualized treatment programs. To claim the ability to use ASAM criteria and apply it in practice, the American Society for Addiction Medicine must certify treatment facilities and their providers. Ask your medical professional about their ASAM Level of Care Certification.
  • Hospital/facility administrators and governmental policymakers: Hospitals and state and local governments use ASAM criteria as the basis to improve and reinforce the substance abuse treatment system and methods used around the country.
  • People in treatment and their families: ASAM criteria and certification help individuals and their families seek the appropriate level of care needed for the addicted person.

ASAM dimensions and criteria form the basis of and foundation for the ASAM Levels of Care.

What Are ASAM Levels of Care?

ASAM’s nine levels of care are:

Level 0.5: Early intervention

Assesses and educates people who may be at risk of substance abuse or substance use disorder (SUD). Services at Level 0.5 are meant to help a person avoid devolving into full addiction or substance abuse.

Level 1: Outpatient treatment

Nine hours or less of outpatient treatment each week. This ASAM level of care is meant to help individuals with disorders less severe than addiction or for those transitioning out of intensive outpatient programs.

Level 2.1: Intensive outpatient services

At least nine but no more than 20 hours in treatment each week. Medical care is available around the clock by phone and within three days if scheduling in person.

Level 2.5: Partial hospitalization

At least 20 hours every week but is not round-the-clock care. This ASAM care level is meant to provide daily structure and oversight for routine living skills but doesn’t provide round-the-clock care.

Level 3.1: Low-intensity residential

If the patient’s needs stipulate five hours or fewer of weekly treatment, individuals at this level reside at a clinically managed site, like a group home. This care level helps people with such aspects of recovery as relapse and trigger management.

Level 3.3: Clinically managed high-intensity residential

These programs are designed for individuals with cognitive function issues, such as brain injury, dementia, developmental disability, and more. The programs progress slower than typical treatment facilities in order to ensure individuals understand each step prior to moving on.

Level 3.5: Serious residential treatment

These clinically managed services help individuals with substance abuse issues who are also plagued by social or psychological problems and require oversight around the clock. Someone at Level 3.5 are considered imminently at risk of severe withdrawal symptoms or harm to themselves or others.

Level 3.7: High-intensity inpatient

Designed for people struggling with substance abuse issues, a high-intensity inpatient program is managed by a professional medical staff trained to provide 24-hour treatment and assistance and psychological monitoring. Those in this ASAM level don’t necessarily require daily visits with a physician but may suffer from co-occurring disorders.

Level 4: Round-the-clock inpatient

This is the highest level of care and requires round-the-clock, on-site nursing care as well as daily physician visits.

When you’re ready to get addiction treatment, it offers peace of mind to know that your chosen treatment center offers the right and approach for your situation, whether you have an alcohol dependency or opioid addiction. Reach out to Zinnia Health to learn more about our ASAM credentials. Call our treatment specialists at (855) 430-9439.

How Does a Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Qualify for ASAM Certification?

Treatment facilities and medical professionals must complete an application with the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). CARF then independently assesses the treatment facility and its programs. Once a rehab center has obtained CARF accreditation, the facility then reaches out to ASAM to obtain certification. 

Once a rehab center has CARF accreditation and has met the requirements for ASAM certification, individuals and their loved ones can rest assured that the facility and its programs provide evidence-based treatments uniquely tailored to each individual and their current circumstances. As of 2023, treatment facilities can obtain ASAM certification for adult treatment programs in levels 3.1 through 3.7.

Zinnia Health and You: The Roadmap to Sobriety

Addiction is scary. Seeking treatment can be even more terrifying for someone battling the throes of this disease. At Zinnia Health, our passion for our clients is unmatched. In fact, many of our treatment professionals have been in your shoes, understand your fears, and want to help you heal for good.

Reach out to us at (855) 430-9439 to learn how our specific services and recovery environment can help you take the next steps toward a life without substance use.

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(855) 430-9439
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