The opioid epidemic and resulting public health crisis have strained the national health care system, requiring an increase in money and resources to confront it. The U.S. federal government has allocated funds and created grants, including the Opioid State Targeted Response, State Opioid Response, and Tribal Opioid Response grants, to support the implementation or scaling up of prevention, treatment and recovery efforts to fill this gap. However, health care providers in many areas may lack the specialized expertise or human resources they need to most effectively and efficiently use these dollars.
In response to the nation’s opioid crisis, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) awarded a 2-year grant and created the Response Network (ORN) to enhance opioid-related efforts already underway throughout the United States and territories. The ORN, led by the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry, includes a coalition of 27 national professional organizations to provide training and technical assistance (TA) via local consultants across the country. The initiative focuses on applying evidence-based practices in prevention, treatment and recovery to meet needs identified by local health care providers and agencies.
RTI International is leveraging our evaluation expertise to lead the ORN’s data analysis and reporting efforts. RTI’s key contributions so far include the following:
- Leading a working group of opioid use disorder (OUD) prevention, treatment, and recovery experts to establish measures of service-, professional- and system-level impact
- Administering surveys to assess TA recipients’ workforce and demographic characteristics, satisfaction with TA and application and transfer of knowledge received through TA
- Supporting the initiative’s development of a TA Request System through data migration, harmonization and testing
- Analyzing data for recurring and ad hoc reports; analysis includes assessing TA focus areas and implementation strategies, resource use, disparities in the number of TA requests by geographic area (e.g., rural states, territories), changes in TA over time and TA needs among communities serving specific populations (e.g., American Indian/Alaska Native populations, pregnant and parenting women, and patients presenting to emergency departments),
To date, ORN has responded to more than 900 training and TA requests and held more than 1,700 events throughout the country. Some of the initial impacts achieved include:
- Developing prevention curriculum for K–12 schools
- Linking organizations to existing services and network supports
- Assisting with grant writing, website creation, and creation of nonprofit organizations
- Providing access to experts in OUD prevention, treatment, and recovery
- Assisting with implementation of OUD/substance abuse treatment, including medication-assisted treatment, in primary health care settings
- Conducting needs and capacity assessments for county health care systems
- Integrating behavioral health and psycho-social supports to existing medication-assisted treatment programs
- Facilitating cooperation between stakeholders at the community level to create collaborative programs
The ORN gives communities the tools and knowledge they need to better implement, expand and sustain OUD programs. Anyone may request TA. For more information or to submit a request for assistance, visit the ORN website. Learn more about RTI’s multidisciplinary research on opioids here.
Funding for this initiative was made possible (in part) by grant no. 6H79TI080816 from SAMHSA. The views expressed in written conference materials or publications and by speakers and moderators do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the Department of Health and Human Services; nor does mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.