SWFAS Receives $110,000 Grant to Improve Access to Substance Abuse Treatment

Submitted by: 01/01/2005

Southwest Florida Addiction Services (SWFAS) has been selected along with 12 other treatment sites throughout the United States to participate in a national program of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The program, Paths to Recovery, is part of a unique learning collaborative designed to improve access and retention in substance abuse treatment. This collaborative, the Network for the Improvement of Addiction Treatment (NIATx), is a partnership between Paths to Recovery, the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment's Strengthening Access and Retention (STAR) program, and a number of independent addiction treatment organizations.

"We are very excited to join with colleagues from across the country to participate in this important project," said SWFAS Executive Director Kevin B. Lewis. "Our staff worked very hard on the grant proposal and to be selected among the top 13 is a credit to their hard work."

Nearly 140 agencies throughout the nation participated in the highly competitive grant application process. The SWFAS project seeks to redesign processes within addiction treatment programs, such as client intake, assessment, scheduling, outreach and family involvement, in order to make them more efficient.

"The overall goal is to create a more efficient system for both patients and staff that makes it easier for patients to complete treatment," Lewis said.

Specific goals of NIATx are to:

  • Reduce waiting time between first request for service and first treatment.
  • Reduce the number of patients who do not keep appointments.
  • Increase the number of people admitted to treatment.
  • Increase the length of time that patients remain in treatment.

Nationally, fewer than one in four people addicted to alcohol or other drugs receive treatment, and as many as half of those who do successfully access care leave treatment before its full benefit can be realized. There are three main reasons for this, according to David Gustafson, director of the NIATx initiative.

"For some the issue is finances, for others the issue is readiness. But we've found that often the real issue keeping patients from treatment is the way that services are delivered, and this is the issue each organization participating in NIATx is addressing," he said.

SWFAS is the oldest and largest comprehensive substance abuse treatment and prevention program in Southwest Florida. Since 1980, SWFAS has helped more than 58,000 residents in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Glades and Hendry counties rebuild their lives. SWFAS offers treatment and prevention services at all levels of intensity including residential, outpatient counseling, and group therapy. In addition, SWFAS provides detoxification services for adults, prevention programming in the schools, and an Employee Assistance Program for about 80 Southwest Florida businesses.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, based in Princeton, N.J., is the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care. It concentrates its grantmaking in four goal areas: to assure that all Americans have access to quality health care at reasonable cost; to improve the quality of care and support for people with chronic health conditions; to promote healthy communities and lifestyles; and to reduce the personal, social and economic harm caused by substance abuse - tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs.

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