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NIDA. (2005, August 1). Bulletin Board. Retrieved from

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August 01, 2005
Lori Whitten

CTN UPDATE: Blending Initiative Introduces Two New Training Programs

Addiction treatment providers will soon have access to two training programs designed to help them integrate buprenorphine treatment protocols and the Addiction Severity Index (ASI) into clinical practice. The training programs address the needs of counselors, nurses, and other providers besides physicians. The training on ASI, a widely used substance abuse assessment instrument, will help counselors use ASI to develop individualized treatment plans and to monitor patient progress.

The Blending Initiative—NIDA's landmark collaboration with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Addiction Technology Transfer Center (ATTC) Network—developed both training programs.

Buprenorphine Training

The Blending Initiative training product is the first to focus on the needs of drug abuse counselors, psychologists, and nurses. "There was a definite training void," says Dr. Gregory Brigham, a member of the Buprenorphine Blending Team and the Ohio Valley node of the Clinical Trials Network (CTN). "The physicians in our treatment center had no trouble finding buprenorphine training, but there were no courses for nurses who assess opioid withdrawal, administer medication, and monitor patients' progress or for clinicians providing concurrent psychosocial therapies."

Treatment programs send providers for training at one of 14 regional ATTC sites. In a 1-day session, providers learn about buprenorphine treatment, the neurobiology of opioid addiction, and the differences among currently available pharmacotherapies.

"Doctors don't prescribe addiction medications in a vacuum. Drug abuse counselors, psychologists, and nurses who provide and support treatment need knowledge of how the medication works and awareness of the basic issues—for example, medically assisted withdrawal—so they can better contribute to the therapeutic process," says Dr. Thomas Freese, Director of the Pacific Southwest ATTC, Director of Training for the CTN Pacific Region node, and leader of the Buprenorphine Blending Team.

S.M.A.R.T. Treatment Planning

The Blending Initiative developed a program on treatment planning in response to a shift in the addiction treatment field toward tailored treatments based on individual patient assessments. During the 1-day in-person training session at an ATTC center or the online course, clinicians obtain hands-on experience with the Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic and Time-limited (S.M.A.R.T.) treatment planning, which focuses on developing therapeutic priorities and using ASI results to write a treatment plan and progress notes. The integration of assessment and treatment planning helps clinicians remove barriers to treatment for patients. "If the assessment highlights that someone needs English-language or GED classes, then counselors can help find the appropriate wraparound services—which helps the patient's overall functioning and ability to focus in treatment," says Dr. Deni Carise, a senior scientist at the Treatment Research Institute of Philadelphia and a member of the ASI Blending Team.

Participants receive materials that allow them to share their learning. Educators can obtain a CD-ROM version for incorporation within college courses. The online version is currently available for use by ATTCs or other public institutions. The Mid-America ATTC makes PDF versions of the materials available free of charge at

NIDA Deputy Director Honored With Presidential Award

Photo: Dr. Timothy P. CondonDr. Timothy P. Condon

Dr. Timothy P. Condon, Deputy Director of NIDA, was awarded the 2004 Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Senior Professionals. This honor is awarded each year to a small number of career Senior Executives in recognition of exceptional long-term accomplishments. There were only 24 Meritorious Senior Professional Rank Awards conferred in 2004, honoring executives, professionals, and scientists who achieve results and consistently demonstrate strength, integrity, industry, and a relentless commitment to excellence in public service. Dr. Condon, who earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience from the College of Medicine, Ohio State University, joined NIDA in 1992. In 1996, he became NIDA's first Associate Director for Science Policy. In January 2004, NIDA Director Dr. Nora D. Volkow named Dr. Condon Deputy Director of NIDA.