Overview of AATOD Activities

The American Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence works with federal agencies and state substance abuse authorities concerning opioid treatment policy. The Association developed the State Methadone Guidelines (1993) and conjunction with the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) for the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT). These guidelines have been translated into French, Italian and Spanish and distributed to more than 20 countries.

Currently, the methadone treatment system is experiencing major changes as accreditation is implemented as the new federal oversight standard. AATOD continues to work with federal and state agencies to assist our members on complying with these standards, ensuring that they receive technical assistance necessary to make the transition. We believe that accreditation is a positive change for our field, improving the quality of health care in our facilities, increasing the legitimacy of the treatment system and greatly reducing the stigma often associated with our field.

Most recently, the Association worked with the National Drug Court Institute (NDCI) to publish and distribute the Drug Court Practitioner Fact Sheet, providing a basic understanding of opioid treatment for drug court professionals. The Association also worked recently with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to produce the Best Practice Guideline for Narcotic Treatment Programs and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration/Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (SAMHSA/ CSAT) in producing the Community Education Kit: Medication Assisted Treatment for the 21st Century.)

The Association also convenes national conferences on an eighteen-month cycle. These conferences focus on evidence-based clinical practice, current research breakthroughs and organizational developments affecting the current and future opioid treatment system. More than 46 states and 21 countries send representatives to this event. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) in addition to SAMHSA/ CSAT and other federal agencies work to support a number of the activities of this conference, including international relations and domestic substance abuse policy. The State Opioid Treatment Authorities meet during this event, working through policy related issues in their respective states.

AATOD has been working with partners in the criminal justice system for the past ten years and have featured a number of plenary sessions during our national conferences on this topic. We have secured grants from various groups over the years in support of this policy initiative including the grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Covidien Mallinckrodt and more recently, from Reckitt-Benckiser. AATOD, through its research partners at the National Development and Research Institutes in New York and Brown University in Rhode Island , have been working with our policy partners in the criminal justice system on an attitudinal survey towards the use of medication-assisted treatment of chronic opioid addiction. This would be a foundation document in working with the appropriate federal agencies to increase access to federally approved medications to treat chronic opioid addiction through drug courts, correctional facilities, and through probation and parole officers.

AATOD is also working with a number of policy partners to work with the Alliance of States with Prescription Monitoring Programs (PMPs) and the Brandeis University PMP Center of Excellence in developing a series of policy recommendations for our associates through the OTPs in the U.S. to gain access to PMP databases without compromising federal confidentiality protections for our patients. Ultimately, we believe that Prescription Monitoring Programs serve as a valuable clinical tool in better informing clinicians about how to more safely and effectively treat our patients.

AATOD continues to work with the recognized Patient Advocacy Organizations in educating providers and the treatment community. We have worked most specifically with NAMA Recovery, based in New York City , as a means of coordinating the work of many Patient Advocacy Organizations throughout the United States to promote the value of recovery as patients enter the treatment process. We believe that working with patient advocates is critical to the future of our treatment system especially as we promote recovery-based models of care.

We have been working with our associates in EUROPAD since 1989 and entered into a formal relationship during July 2007 when AATOD and EUROPAD founded the World Federation for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence. These two groups recently submitted an application to the United Nations to receive a Non-Government Organizational status to promote the development of medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction wherever it is needed throughout the world. This application was accepted during the first quarter of 2011, enabling the World Federation to work with the United Nations and its member organizations and nations as a means of achieving the objectives of expanding access to care for opioid addiction following evidence-based practice and good clinical guidelines.

AATOD is also working with SAMHSA/CSAT in all of the designated federal agencies as health care reform is implemented to increase insurance coverage for more than 30 million Americans. This will also include a significant number of people who are opioid addicted and will need access to care through OTPs throughout the United States . We are especially pleased to be working with the Legal Action Center , a long-standing policy partner, in developing effective models of delivery in order to treat a new patient population, who do not have access to care through lack of health insurance.

AATOD is also working with treatment providers and policy officials in a number of states as a result of increased legislative activity in the states as a method of educating various policy officials and lawmakers to better understand many of the current dynamics effecting the general population as prescription opioid abuse continues to be a major challenge in the U.S.

Our staff and Board of Directors work tenaciously to promote the interests of our program members but it is through the unity of all of our policy partners in the treatment and policy community that we are able to increase the public understanding of what we do in the treatment system and to ensure that all who need access to care receive it.