The survey on training in addiction medicine and psychology, presented by Bramness et al. [1] in this issue of the journal, addresses a key question in the ongoing development of our field. The implementation of new knowledge and evidence-based treatment is a challenge in many areas of medicine, but particularly so within addiction treatment, which has often been situated outside of regular medicine. Historically, this has certainly been the case in Sweden, where the addiction field was dominated by the social services during the latter part of the 20th century. However, a growing recognition of the importance of evidence-based treatment has led to a shift toward a medical model with a biopsychosocial perspective. A recent official report from the Swedish government is a striking illustration of this since it argues that all addiction treatment should be the responsibility of the health care system rather than being split up between health care, social services, and governmental institutions, as in the current system [2].

In this new landscape, medical doctors and psychologists play key roles, not least in the diagnosis and treatment of somatic and psychiatric comorbidities. The proper training of these professions, both at the basic level and in specialization programs, is therefore crucial. During the 2010s, the possibility of becoming a licensed specialist in addiction was introduced for both medical doctors and psychologists in Sweden. For medical doctors, addiction medicine can only be added to a basic training as a psychiatrist, but there is an ongoing debate about expanding this and allowing other medical specialties to become specialists in addiction as well. The multidisciplinary nature of our field and the current lack of access to effective treatments are important arguments for such an expansion.

Maintaining a high-quality standard in the specialist training programs is also necessary in order to attract more future specialists in addiction medicine and psychology. Learning from the experiences of other European countries will be of great importance in this effort, and the work of Bramness et al. is a good step in this direction. The huge variability in training programs is problematic, and there is clearly a need for harmonization, where we should learn from good examples of educational practices. Considering the limited numbers of addiction specialists in Sweden and many other European countries, collaborating around central issues in specialist training, examinations, and continuing professional development could be an efficient way forward. In recent years, we have all become used to digital learning technologies that are scalable and easy to access, which would greatly facilitate such work. Sharing knowledge and strengthening international bonds will make our professions better prepared to face the challenges of the future in addiction medicine and psychology.

The author has no conflicts of interest to declare.

No specific funding was used for the writing of this commentary.

Joar Guterstam wrote the text and is accountable for its content.

1.
Bramness
JG
,
Leonhardt
M
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Dom
G
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Batalla
A
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Flórez Menéndez
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Mann
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Education and training in addiction medicine and psychology across Europe: a EUFAS survey
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Eur Addict Res
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2023
:
375
85
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