By Alison Knopf
The American Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence (AATOD) has released recommendations on siting opioid treatment programs (OTPs). The guidelines are meant to encourage OTP sponsors to work with neighborhoods, local treatment programs, and local and state officials. The recommendations include:
- Focus on underserved areas. Good locations include those with high rates of overdoses, emergency room admissions, and criminal justice involvement. If a town has other OTPs, determine if those facilities are meeting patients’ needs. If the existing OTPs lack sufficient capacity to treat all local patients who require it, clearly additional programs are needed. New OTPs must work with municipal, county, and state administrators to be sure that programs are being located in underserved areas.
- OTPs should follow any specific requirements set up by municipalities, counties, and states. This helps to create a smooth transition into the community.
- Operating hours of OTPs should be published, and OTPs should let communities know what to expect from the treatment process.
- OTPs should work with community leaders. This will involve a high level of community education during siting, and is essential for developing trust.
- Avoid competing for patients where other OTPs are already established. The goal is to ensure that the new programs meet the community’s needs. It’s also important to minimize dual enrollments, and to facilitate the safe transfer of patients between programs.
- Follow AATOD’s Canon of Ethics: potential patients or third-party recruiters cannot be offered financial enticements.
- When a program is sited, develop relationships with office-based providers, as in the Hub and Spoke model in Vermont. In that model, OTPs assess all new patients, treat some, and refer others to office-based providers.
Reaching the current opioid crisis has taken more than three decades; emerging from it will take years, AATOD president Mark Parrino, MPA, noted, in issuing the guidelines.
“It is our collective hope that these guidelines will provide useful recommendations as our treatment system expands over the course of the coming years,” said Mr. Parrino, speaking for himself and the AATOD board. He added that in the years ahead, as OTPs continue to grow, it will be important to follow siting guidelines.
The guidelines issued October 4 can be accessed at: http://www.aatod.org/news/recommendations-in-siting-new-otps-in-the-united-states/.