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Advocate’s Alcove

SoAP Box: 
Advocate’s Alcove

Fall 2019

Nancy A. Piotrowski, PhD


Nancy A. Piotrowski, PhD

Division 50 Federal Advocacy Coordinator

This column summarizes recent American Psychological Association (APA) and APA Services, Inc. (APASI) advocacy relevant to addiction psychology.  You will see a broad focus on using substance specific issues to extend the reach and impact of addiction psychology for the public good, practice, and basic scientific advancement.

To start, funding for health information technology for psychologists is a long-standing interest for APA/APASI.  A recent step in this direction is advocacy by the Behavioral Health Information Technology Coalition (BHIT) to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to provide funds for the use of certified electronic health records by psychologists and other behavioral health providers in addiction programs.  The immediate focus is for funding to support opioid treatment demonstration programs.  The direct appeal to CMS on this matter can be seen online ( ). 

Opioid issues also fueled advocacy related to pain management in several ways.  First, communications with CMS from APA and other organizations resulted in a letter (see ) encouraging use of evidence-based pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic treatments to address pain.  Similarly, APA communicated with several agencies within the U.S Departments of Labor, Health, and Human Services, and Agriculture to consider psychological and behavioral pain management as a first line treatment.  Letters (such as this ) argued that treatment to support substance use disorder prevention.

Alcohol, psychedelics, and cannabis research also have been a cause for action.  For example, conversations were held with U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation to discuss fetal alcohol spectrum disorder research to inform policy to reduce burdens from the condition.  Similarly, APA is monitoring policy-related activities on funding psychedelic and cannabis research.  Information from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Institute of Health (NIH) (see,%2006.17.2019.pdf ) suggest there is a small portfolio on ketamine and MDMA and no clinical research on LSD or psilocybin.  APA/APASI also noted emergence of privately funded psychedelic research (see ).  Finally, communications with the FDA/NIH suggest that who have Schedule I registrations should be allowed to purchase cannabis products from state dispensaries to use in their research (see,%2009.04.2019.pdf ).

Broader actions include communications with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to discuss workforce development and the interface between pain management and substance use treatment.  There also have been efforts to oppose CMS proposals to reduce reimbursements to psychologists by 7% in 2021. Opposition to the cuts has been strong due to expected impacts on reduction of access to services.

So, a lot is going on with addiction psychology advocacy.  Please join me in thanking the APA/APASI government affairs team for excellent work and information which allow for this summary.  And remember, you can learn about current APA/APASI efforts by visiting the Federal Action Network (FAN) (  You also may sign up for online updates if interested ( ).  Finally, be in touch if you have questions about any of this information.   If you are working an advocacy project related to addictions treatment, education, training, or policy, I would like to hear about it.  Reach me at

Resource Information


APA Federal Action Network

FAN Sign Up for Updates )

Information on Privately Funded Psychedelics Research

Letter on BHIT

Letter on Pain Management Interventions

Letter on Psychedelics Research,%2006.17.2019.pdf )

Letter on Purchasing Cannabis Products for Research,%2009.04.2019.pdf

Letter Supporting Opioid and Substance Use Disorder Prevention


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