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A New Website Helps People Find And Assess Addiction Treatment

The ATLAS website. (Screenshot)
The ATLAS website. (Screenshot)

Massachusetts is one of six states launching an online tool designed to help people find addiction treatment. The national nonprofit Shatterproof created the website known as ATLAS, an Addiction Treatment Locator, Assessment and Standards platform. The site offers information about addiction treatment providers, including the types of services, medications and accepted insurance. It also allows patients to see and provide feedback about their experiences with providers.

"I know that, for family members, trying to find treatment in a time of crisis can be daunting," said James Cremer, deputy director in the Bureau of Substance Addiction Services in the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. "Implementing this tool, with other tools we have in Massachusetts, will provide a broader picture for folks trying to access treatment."

Massachusetts first announced its participation in the project in February 2019, and state officials have been working with various state treatment providers on the platform.

"The Commonwealth’s multi-pronged, multi-year strategy to increase the availability and access to a full range of addiction prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery services continues,” Massachusetts Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders said in a press release. “Participation in this initiative provides another tool to help residents and their families receive accurate information and select the care that puts them on their path to recovery.”

In launching the site on Tuesday, U.S. Surgeon General Vice Admiral Dr. Jerome Adams said it will help ensure quality in addiction treatment and provide data about treatment to eventually prompt improvements over time.

"I look forward to hearing about the progress and the contributions this platform will make to our shared aim of high quality accessible treatment for anyone battling substance use disorder," Adams said. "In many cases if it's not available when someone needs it, it might as well not be there at all."

Shatterproof officials say information about addiction treatment is crucial, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. Shatterproof founder and CEO Gary Mendell started the nonprofit after the death of his son who struggled with opioid addiction.

“During a time when social isolation, economic hardship and disruption of everyday routines are worsening our nation’s addiction crisis, ATLAS is a critical new resource. When my son Brian needed addiction treatment, my family agonized trying to find him the right care. It was impossible to know who to trust,” Mendell said in a press release. “ATLAS is a sea change in the addiction world. It will give those in need and their families the transparent and trustworthy information my family never had and will help put more people on the path to recovery.”

Shatterproof says by the fall the platform will also offer secure access to data to state policymakers, providers and insurance payers.

New York, West Virginia, Delaware, North Carolina and Louisiana are also involved. The nonprofit hopes to expand use to other states.

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Deborah Becker Twitter Host/Reporter
Deborah Becker is a senior correspondent and host at WBUR. Her reporting focuses on mental health, criminal justice and education.

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