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SAMHSA's Addiction Technology
Transfer Center Network

by Glenn Kamber

Entering its 25th year, the Addiction Technology Transfer Center (ATTC) Network is one of the most durable and well-used federal resources for building capacity and effectiveness among front-line workers in addiction prevention, intervention, and recovery. The ATTC Network utilizes various knowledge transfer strategies and platforms to reach and assist behavioral health professionals, including enhanced skills training, education, online and distance learning, conferences, workshops, and publications.

This article highlights ATTC training and technical assistance available to organizations that administer the Minority Fellowship Program, MFP Fellows and alumni, and participating universities. Enhanced interaction between the MFP and ATTC Network could broaden and enrich the programs' educational offerings, stimulate cross-program sharing, and accelerate the adoption of research findings and evidence-based best practices.

ATTC Network Structure
The ATTC serves the entire country through a network of 10 technology transfer centers—one in every multistate U.S. Department of Health and Human Services region.

SAMHSA also supports a Network Coordinating Office, currently housed at the University of Missouri–Kansas City, to facilitate cross-regional activities.

Funding for ATTC regional centers and the Network Coordinating Office is based on periodic SAMHSA competitions among eligible nonprofit organizations, such as universities and research and development institutions. Successful applicants demonstrate knowledge of addiction conditions and service needs of affected populations within their region, as well as the capacity to organize and deliver evidence-based training and technical assistance to address those needs. SAMHSA negotiates 5-year cooperative agreements with those applicants to ensure ongoing coordination and oversight within and among regional centers.

Regional map of ATTC

As of Sept. 30, 2017, the following institutions will operate ATTC regional centers for the next 5 years:

HHS Region Institution Name of ATTC
0 Curators of the University of Missouri Network Coordinating Office
1 Brown University, R.I. New England ATTC
2 National Development and Research Institute, N.Y. Northeast and Caribbean ATTC
3 The Danya Institute, Md. Central East ATTC
4 Morehouse School of Medicine, Ga. Southeast ATTC
5 The Board of Regents of University of Wisconsin Great Lakes ATTC
6 The University of Texas at Austin South Southwest ATTC
7 Truman Medical Center, Mo. Mid-America ATTC
8 University of North Dakota Mountain Plains ATTC
9 Regents of the University of California, Los Angeles Pacific Southwest ATTC
10 University of Washington Pacific Northwest ATTC

ATTC Network Tools and Resources
Training Sessions and Special Events
Each ATTC regional center sponsors training courses, workshops, and conferences that help addiction professionals address the needs and conditions of people and communities within their geographic area. ATTC centers may work together to develop and implement training activities when service needs transcend regional boundaries or influence similar populations. All 10 regional centers are sharing knowledge and training resources to address the nation's opioid crisis, as well as conditions such as hepatitis C, which often results from using unclean needles for illicit drug injections. Centers in several regions are responding to requests from state and local lawmakers for science-based briefings on marijuana use and abuse.

Minority Fellowship Program participants—especially Fellows—can attend ATTC training and special events. MFP members with expertise in addiction research or clinical practice may offer to share their findings or best-practice information as presenters at ATTC training events.

An online calendar of ATTC training and special events is organized by subject matter, regional center sponsor, and date.

Pre-Service Substance Use Disorder Training for Allied Health Professionals
The ATTC maintains an online listing of training materials for educational institutions that train professionals in healthcare fields other than addiction to work in integrated care settings. Training recipients include physicians, nurses, and social workers.

Training Materials and Resources
The ATTC Network develops and disseminates documents and digital materials on region-specific addiction service needs and strategies. For example, the Region 4 ATTC center at the Morehouse University School of Medicine produces training documents and events that help faith-based organizations strengthen their outreach, engagement, and intervention capabilities, especially among vulnerable populations in rural areas. Similarly, the ATTC center in Region 8 provides training and technical assistance on addiction issues that affect Native Americans living on tribal lands or in other rural settings.

Minority Fellowship Program participants can access and use materials developed by ATTC regional centers to enhance Fellow training and the clinical work of MFP alumni. And MFP Fellows and alumni can contribute to materials development, especially for centers that concentrate their efforts on improving substance abuse and addiction services for minority populations.

To access ATTC training materials and resources, open the online catalog of ATTC products and resources organized by regional center, or click on a map of the 10 ATTC regional centers.

Trainer Registries
The ATTC Network maintains three up-to-date registries of certified trainers who are available to help substance abuse and addiction professionals improve services and outcomes, especially in response to the opioid epidemic.

  • National Registry of Blending Product Trainers: Trainers listed in this registry have completed a rigorous in-service training and certification process administered jointly by SAMHSA and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Blending Product trainers assist community substance abuse programs and service providers in adopting research-based best practices. Among the blended training topics are medication-assisted treatment, buprenorphine treatment for opioid abuse (general and for young adults), and HIV rapid testing.
  • National Registry of SBIRT Trainers: These trainers are certified by the Institute for Research, Education, and Training in Addictions to help substance abuse programs and professionals learn an evidence-based best practice: Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT). SBIRT is particularly useful for professionals seeking to engage opioid prescription drug users who may resist entering treatment.
  • HCV Trainers: This listing of trainers who specialize in hepatitis C prevention and treatment is part of a broader ATTC initiative, HCV Current, which seeks to increase hepatitis C knowledge among medical and behavioral health professionals.
    MFP Fellows and their graduate schools may wish to engage trainers from one or more of these registries to enhance professional development offerings. MFP alumni involved in substance abuse service delivery or program administration can take advantage of ATTC trainer resources as recipients or training providers.

    ATTC Network Academic Resources

    Directory of Addiction Study Programs
    The ATTC Network maintains an up-to-date directory of higher education institutions that offer certificate, associate, bachelor, master, and doctoral programs in substance use disorders. Also included are institutions offering a concentration, specialty, or minor in the addictions field.

    South Southwest/Region 6 Academic Consortium for Pre-Service Preparation
    Created by the University of Texas at Austin in 1993, the consortium connects seven regional colleges and universities that prepare minority students to work in substance abuse prevention and treatment programs in predominantly Hispanic communities. Key areas of collaboration among consortium schools include decision-making around addiction courses and workshops, provision of technical assistance to community-based organizations, workforce development, and adoption of evidence-based practices. An overview of the participating educational institutions and their training programs can be found on the ATTC Region 6 website.

    State Substance Abuse Professional Licensure and Certification Requirements
    ATTC publishes an online list of state licensing and certification requirements for substance abuse and addiction professionals.

    ATTC Network of Practice
    The Network of Practice connects substance abuse program administrators and managers working to implement evidence-based practices with service providers who have been successful in adopting such practices and with researchers whose investigations have contributed to the best-practice identification. The University of Wisconsin–Madison manages this online community of professionals and facilitates various interactions, including Internet chats, question-and-answer forums on specific implementation issues, and off-Network, one-on-one follow-up discussions.

    ATTC Network Communications
    Over the years, the ATTC has used online newsletters, interactive forums, blogs, and other communication strategies to disseminate up-to-date and useful information to ATTC participants and consumers.

    Addiction Science Made Easy (ASME)
    ASME helps non-researchers understand and use scientific studies to improve substance abuse service delivery and outcomes. ATTC–contracted writers review and rewrite articles from alcohol and substance abuse journals and NIDA's Clinical Trials Network Library in lay terms.

    Recently posted ASME articles include the following:

    • Prescription Opioid Registry Protocol in an Integrated Health System
    • High Mortality Among Patients With Opioid Use Disorder in a General Healthcare System
    • Sex Risk Behaviors and Substance Use Severity Among Men in SUD Treatment
    • The Prescription Opioid Treatment Study: What Have We Learned?

    The ATTC Network produces online publications to disseminate information on substance abuse training and practice. Among the publications are

    • The ATTC Messenger is a monthly newsletter with tips and information on best practices. It features ASME articles, national professional development events and funding opportunities, and links to state-of-the-art online resources and other electronic publications relevant to the field.
    • The Bridge is a tri-annual newsletter published by the ATTC Network Coordinating Office. The Bridge links science and service in the addictions and recovery field and provides information and views from experts, tools on technology transfer and implementation science, and case studies highlighting real-world applications.
    • The Dialogue is a monthly e-publication from ATTC Region 3 center sponsor, the Danya Institute. The Dialogue lists upcoming regional and national ATTC training events, posts summaries of key research findings and clinical practice successes, and links subscribers to other websites with information relevant to regional needs and services.
    • Families in Focus is a monthly newsletter published by the ATTC Center for Excellence in Behavioral Health for Pregnant and Post-Partum Women and Their Families. This newsletter highlights the work of the Families in Focus ATTC Center, including new resources, training offerings, and opportunities for pregnant and postpartum women to connect with other programs.

    ATTC–Posted Blogs
    The ATTC serves as a platform for numerous blogs written by behavioral health professionals and others involved in mental health and substance use disorder services. One example is the Service Improvement Blog, published monthly and featuring opinion and information pieces from well-versed researchers, practitioners, educators, and consumers. The July 2017 Service Improvement Blog discusses marijuana policy and how science influences policy development, regulation, and law.

    In preparing this article, the author interviewed Humberto M. Carvalho, MPH, public health advisor and project officer at the Addiction Technology Transfer Center in SAMHSA's Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Mr. Carvalho indicated that SAMHSA will stress more cross-program interaction among SAMHSA–funded programs. The agency will also welcome greater MFP involvement with and use of ATTC resources, both as knowledge transfer contributors and consumers. This is particularly important because funding for several ATTC centers that have focused exclusively on service to minority populations, such as Latinos and Native Americans, will no longer be supported after Sept. 30, 2017. The ATTC Network could benefit from the expertise of MFP Fellows, educators, and alumni in improving service outcomes, especially among vulnerable populations.

ATTC Network Mission and Vision

  • Accelerate the adoption and implementation of evidence-based and promising addiction treatment and recovery-oriented practices and services
  • Heighten the awareness, knowledge, and skills of the workforce addressing the needs of people with substance use or other behavioral health disorders
  • Foster regional and national alliances among culturally diverse practitioners, researchers, policy-makers, funders, and the recovery community

SAMHSA's vision for the ATTC Network is to unify science, education, and service to transform lives through evidence-based and promising treatment and recovery practices in a recovery-oriented system of care.