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Leaders in addiction treatment announce national 'ACTION' campaign

MADISON - A cadre of private and public entities in the addiction treatment field announced the launch of the National Adopting Changes to Improve Outcomes Now (ACTION) Campaign for the improvement of addiction treatment services. The ACTION Campaign goals are to increase access to addiction treatment for individuals in need and to keep clients engaged in treatment.

The campaign, launched during National Recovery Month in September, has a goal of improving the lives of 55,000 people through improved treatment.

The ACTION Campaign is an unprecedented, cross-sector partnership among non-governmental organizations (NGOs), foundations, and government agencies. Those include the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration's (SAMHSA) Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT), State Associations of Addiction Services (SAAS), the Network for the Improvement of Addiction Treatment (NIATx) and the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors (NASADAD).

SAMHSA Administrator Terry Cline says: "All too often, people with a substance use problem do not get the help they need because of barriers to treatment. The ACTION Campaign is designed to help ensure treatment services are available, responsive, and ultimately make a difference."

The ACTION Campaign aims to challenge 500 treatment agencies nationwide to implement one of several simple changes in their treatment operations over an 18- month period. Currently, nearly 33 percent of those who receive addiction treatment drop out of the programs.

"Based on previous research, just one small improvement in each of the 500 agencies as proposed by NIATx is expected to make a difference in the lives of 55,000 people," says H. Westley Clark, director of CSAT. "We are already witnessing very favorable results in the NIATx pilot sites."

The ACTION Campaign promotes the national adoption of proven practices for enhancing client access to care and their overall engagement in treatment. The campaign focuses on the following factors: 1) Rapid access to treatment, 2) Increased engagement by those who are in treatment, and 3) A seamless transition from one stage of care to another.

The 39 founding members of NIATx, as well as many other treatment provider organizations, have experienced the following results from implementing the campaign practices:

  • A 34.8 percent reduction in wait times;

  • A 33 percent reduction in no-shows;

  • A 21.5 percent increase in admissions;

  • And a 22.3 percent increase in treatment continuation.

"After implementing changes to improve client engagement, women in our New Leaf residential treatment program reported that they felt 'welcomed' upon admission rather than 'processed,'" says Mike Boyle, President and CEO of Fayette Companies in Peoria, Ill. "The dropout rate fell from 30 percent to 11 percent, which translates into a more comprehensive treatment tenure and higher client success rates," he adds.

ACTION Campaign tools and technical assistance are free to all who register at The ACTION Web site will feature a series of ACTION Kits that provide step-by-step instructions on how to implement the NIATx treatment improvement practices. Once they sign up, campaign members will also be invited to participate in regular technical assistance conference calls, a campaign blog, and other peer networking activities.


Contact: Maureen Fitzgerald
University of Wisconsin-Madison

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