NIATx targets opioid treatment programs in improvement initiative | Addiction Professional Magazine Skip to content Skip to navigation

NIATx targets opioid treatment programs in improvement initiative

April 20, 2011
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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Leader says these outpatient programs face more bureaucratic hurdles

The process improvement organization NIATx is accepting applications through April 29 for the second phase of its initiative to help improve the effectiveness of opioid treatment programs. While NIATx has demonstrated that these programs can match the success of other addiction treatment agencies in enhancing access to and retention in services, it also has observed that opioid treatment programs face more than their share of challenges in the effort to improve effectiveness.

“There are more bureaucratic barriers for these programs,” says Kim Johnson, co-deputy director of NIATx (formerly known as the Network for the Improvement of Addiction Treatment). “With all the federal and state regulations they’re subject to, there is a lot that it would be logical for these programs not to do but that they have to do because of regulation.”

The programs that NIATx seeks to identify for its Opioid Treatment Provider Learning Collaborative are not simply those that offer some degree of treatment for opiate addiction, but those that consider themselves primarily an opiate treatment program using medications. Most of the programs that participated in the first cohort of the collaborative were methadone treatment programs, but Johnson says the collaborative also is open to programs that favor use of buprenorphine (Suboxone, Subutex) or the extended-release form of naltrexone (Vivitrol).

This second phase, scheduled to begin this summer and end next April, is funded for 20 participating programs. The first phase of the collaborative began with 30 programs but ended with only 20. “That was probably the highest dropout rate we’ve had,” says Johnson, although she adds that even those programs that did not stay on to completion found their participation to be beneficial.

Participants in NIATx initiatives such as this collaborative will generally identify relatively easy-to-implement process changes in their organizations that can help improve client access to and retention in treatment. Johnson says several of the participants in the first phase of this collaborative focused on efforts to speed up clients’ access to medication.

“The participants in the first program found it really valuable,” says Johnson. “It not only helped the patients, it helped the organizations function better. They could earn more money, or make better use of existing funds.”

For more information about the Opioid Treatment Provider Learning Collaborative, visit