Time to take ACTION

August 31, 2007
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A national campaign aims to help providers increase access to and engagement in addiction treatment services

This is an exciting moment in the field of behavioral health,” says Dr. David H. Gustafson, director of the Network for the Improvement of Addiction Treatment (NIATx). “We've learned a great deal about what works for substance abuse treatment agencies. With the ACTION Campaign, we have an extraordinary opportunity to share this knowledge with the field.”

In partnership with several national organizations (table), NIATx will launch the Adopting Changes to Improve Outcomes Now (ACTION) Campaign next month. The ACTION Campaign promotes a set of changes that many organizations in the addiction treatment field seek to make.



Table. The ACTION Campaign Partners

Addiction Technology Transfer Center (ATTC National Office) http://www.nattc.org

National Association of State Alcohol/Drug Abuse Directors (NASADAD) http://www.nasadad.org

American Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence (AATOD) http://www.aatod.org

Network for the Improvement of Addiction Treatment (NIATx) http://www.niatx.net

Faces and Voices of Recovery http://www.facesandvoicesofrecovery.org

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) http://www.rwjf.org

Join Together http://www.jointogether.com

State Associations of Addiction Services (SAAS) http://www.saasnet.org

Legal Action Center (LAC) http://www.lac.org

National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP) http://www.naatp.org

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration—Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (SAMHSA/CSAT) http://www.csat.samhsa.gov

Treatment Research Institute (TRI) http://www.tresearch.org



“The dramatic results that the NIATx agencies experienced using process improvement methods led us to ask how we could broaden our reach to the entire field,” explains Dr. Gustafson. “While the improvements had been impressive, we'd only reached a small number of organizations—a few hundred out of the 13,000 in the country. We feel that the field is ready for a transformation and that through a national campaign, we could reach a greater number of agencies and encourage them to make similar changes.”

Joining ACTION is entirely free to providers, and all of the training and technical assistance materials—both print and electronic—are available to participating organizations at no cost.

A Partnership of Leading National Organizations

The Campaign formed a partnership among leading organizations as an effective way to reach the widest possible audience, and also because no single organization has ties to all the addiction treatment providers across the country.

“Our goal with the ACTION Campaign is to enroll at least 500 organizations that will learn to use process improvement strategies to create sustained benefits for treatment clients and the agencies that serve them,” says Howard Shapiro, executive director of State Associations of Addiction Services (SAAS), one of the 12 organizations in the ACTION Campaign partnership.

The ACTION Campaign promotes the national adoption of proven practices for enhancing access and engagement. Specifically, these practices support three actions that can greatly increase a client's chance for recovery:

  1. Rapid access

  2. Enhanced engagement

  3. Seamless transition between levels of care

These ACTIONs were selected because they proved to be successful when implemented by NIATx's 39 founding members, as well as many other organizations involved in NIATx projects. As of November 2006, NIATx members reported a 34.8% reduction in wait times, a 33% reduction in no-shows, a 21.5% increase in admissions, and a 22.3% increase in treatment continuation.

Promoting these proven practices serves a dual purpose: to respond to the changing needs of the American population, while at the same time providing effective and relevant training to the field.

“We have a lot planned to support providers who are new to this effort,” says Dr. Gustafson.

Innovative Staff Training Opportunity

The ACTION Campaign incorporates the core principle of adult education that adults learn by doing. “We designed the Campaign tools to offer relevant training that treatment professionals can implement quickly—and see quick results as well,” says Dr. Jay Ford, NIATx's chief research officer.

Treatment professionals who take part in the ACTION Campaign will be able to take advantage of training tools and instructions from the convenience of their own offices.

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