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Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Substance Abuse: Administrative Issues in Outpatient Treatment. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 2006. (Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 46.)

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Substance Abuse: Administrative Issues in Outpatient Treatment.

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What Is a TIP?

Treatment Improvement Protocols (TIPs), developed by the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT), part of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), are best-practice guidelines for the treatment of substance use disorders. CSAT draws on the experience and knowledge of clinical, research, and administrative experts to produce the TIPs, which are distributed to facilities and individuals across the country. The audience for the TIPs is expanding beyond public and private treatment facilities to include practitioners in mental health, criminal justice, primary care, and other health care and social service settings.

CSAT's Knowledge Application Program (KAP) expert panel, a distinguished group of experts on substance use disorders and professionals in such related fields as primary care, mental health, and social services, works with the State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors to generate topics for the TIPs. Topics are based on the field's current needs for information and guidance.

After selecting a topic, CSAT invites staff from pertinent Federal agencies and national organizations to be members of a resource panel that recommends specific areas of focus as well as resources that should be considered in developing the content for the TIP. These recommendations are communicated to a consensus panel composed of non-Federal experts on the topic who have been nominated by their peers. Consensus panel members participate in a series of discussions. The information and recommendations on which they reach consensus form the foundation of the TIP. The members of each consensus panel represent substance abuse treatment programs, hospitals, community health centers, counseling programs, criminal justice and child welfare agencies, and private practitioners. A panel chair (or co-chairs) ensures that the content of the TIP mirrors the results of the group's collaboration.

A large and diverse group of experts closely reviews the draft document. Once the changes recommended by these field reviewers have been incorporated, the TIP is prepared for publication, in print and on line. TIPs can be accessed via the Internet at www.kap.samhsa.gov. The online TIPs are consistently updated and provide the field with state-of-the-art information.

Although each TIP strives to include an evidence base for the practices it recommends, CSAT recognizes that the field of substance abuse treatment is evolving, and research frequently lags behind the innovations pioneered in the field. A major goal of each TIP is to convey “front-line” information quickly but responsibly. For this reason, recommendations proffered in the TIP are attributed to either panelists' clinical experience or the literature. If research supports a particular approach, citations are provided.

This TIP, Substance Abuse: Administrative Issues in Outpatient Treatment, was written to help administrators work in the changing environment in which outpatient treatment programs operate. The TIP provides basic information about running an outpatient treatment program, including strategic planning, working with a board of directors, relationships with strategic partners, hiring and retaining employees, staff supervision, continuing education and training, performance improvement, outcomes monitoring, and promotion of the program to potential clients, funding agencies, and government officials. More specialized sections address challenges that have emerged and gathered importance in the last decade: preparing a program to provide culturally competent treatment to an increasingly diverse client population, succeeding in a managed care-dominated world by diversifying the funding sources a program draws on, and understanding privacy and confidentiality requirements imposed by Federal legislation.

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