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Public can back TRI adolescent treatment guide for innovation award

March 11, 2014
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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The Treatment Research Institute's (TRI's) Consumer Guide to Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment project has been named a finalist for a $25,000 Innovation Award from the Scattergood Foundation, and members of the public have until March 17 to cast votes of support that will determine the award winner.

Based on the relative scarcity of adolescent-specific treatment programs and the tendency for many of the existing ones not to have evidence-based practices in place, the Philadelphia-based TRI established a Consumer Guide to adolescent treatment that built on prior work by the organization Drug Strategies. The guide identifies for families 10 key elements of effective adolescent substance abuse treatment programs (such as attention to mental health, culturally competent treatment, and a focus on strategies to promote client engagement and retention), along with a total of 62 discrete practices that support the 10 elements.

TRI senior scientist Kathleen Meyers, PhD, used a poignant comparison in a blog post this week to illustrate why families and the public at large need more education on the disease of addiction. She juxtaposed the compassionate care and social support received when her partner Terry was dying of cancer to the indifference she encountered when her brother Kevin died of a drug overdose.

She wrote that in the last hours of her brother's life, “the EMT personnel said 'he's just another junkie'—yes they actually said that—and worked on him with repulsion.”

Meyers wrote of the possible effect of winning an award for innovation, “Addiction is still so stigmatized that an award like this will give us a national spotlight to work to change misguided perceptions and improve care. Imagine a public that wants to invest in treatment and not cut dollars from it.”

According to TRI, its project is the only award finalist focused on improving substance use services. In a communication to colleagues, TRI communications and marketing manager Debra Christoffel wrote, “As we move closer to finalized changes with the Affordable Care Act, this project will serve as the prototype needed to address gaps in quality treatment and present opportunities for various stakeholders to take action to improve the overall system of care.”