Over the past 15 years, the United States has experienced increasing prescription and illicit opioid abuse, addiction, and overdose. In 2016, over 11 million Americans misused prescription opioids, nearly 1 million used heroin, and 2.1 million had an opioid use disorder due to prescription opioids or heroin. Since 2013, the introduction of illegally produced fentanyl has made the problem worse. In 2017, Congress authorized funding to the states, territories and tribal nations to address the opioid crisis by increasing access to treatment, reducing unmet treatment need, and reducing opioid overdose related deaths through the provision of prevention, treatment and recovery activities. Funding was directed to the states through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Opioid State Targeted Response (STR) grants.

The University of Texas at Austin’s Steve Hicks School of Social Work is funded as the Region 6 Addiction Technology Transfer Center (ATTC) Regional Center. The ATTC Network, which includes 10 Regional Centers and a Network Coordinating Office, is one of SAMHSA’s flagship programs with continuous funding for over 24 years. The ATTC Network will leverage the accumulated expertise, experience and relationships of the ATTCs to partner with the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry (AAAP) and other key collaborators to provide technical assistance to the Opioid STR Grantees. Technical assistance will be implemented through funding under SAMHSA Opioid State Targeted Response Technical Assistance, (Short Title: STR TA) Grant No. TI-18-004.

Resource Gaps: Despite the extensive reach of the opioid epidemic, availability of evidence-based practices for treatment across the U.S. is insufficient. While it is estimated that 2.4 million Americans have an Opioid Use Disorder, few receive Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT). Only around 350,000 are on methadone maintenance, and fewer receive buprenorphine or injection naltrexone. Over half of counties in the U.S. lack any access to MAT. Even when substance use disorder treatment is available, individuals often lack access to essential recovery supports needed for long-term success. There is limited training for medical professionals on safe prescribing practices and effective strategies for intervening with patients potentially in need of treatment.

Purpose: The primary goal of the project is to build the capacity of opioid treatment grantees in the 50 states, U. S. territories and tribal nations to utilize evidence-based practices (EBPs) in their communities to best serve individuals at risk of, or living with, Opioid Use Disorders (OUDs).

Methods: The team of grant collaborators, known as the State Technical Assistance Team Education and Support (STATES) Consortium, will identify and assemble local addiction medicine professionals and prevention, treatment and recovery support experts who can provide on-the ground, culturally appropriate technical assistance based on assessed needs of states, territories and tribal nations across the Opioid STR program. Each ATTC Regional Center will serve as the lead facilitator of technical assistance and technology transfer activities for STR grantees in multiple states.

Significance: Successful implementation of the project will increase evidence-based prevention, treatment, and recovery support programs/services across the Opioid STR program grantees. Individuals experiencing Opioid Use Disorders will have greater access to more effective care, resulting in improved health and wellness in recovery. Medical professionals will implement improved prescribing practices and the general public will have increased knowledge of safe and effective use of pain medications.

For more information, contact: Maureen Nichols, co-director, South Southwest Addiction Technology Transfer Center, mnichols@austin.utexas.edu

Collaborators: American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry (AAAP), Addiction Technology Transfer Center (ATTC) Network, Boston University, Boston Children’s Hospital, C4 Recovery Foundation, Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, RTI International.

Funding for this project was made possible by a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Centers for Substance Abuse Treatment and Prevention. The views expressed in written project materials or publications do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the Department of Health and Human Services; nor does mention by trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.