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Why Is Technology Transfer Important to the Addictions Treatment and Recovery Field?

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Technology by definition deals with the application of “scientific knowledge” to practical purposes in a particular field. In other words, technology deals with how we use the “tools of our trade” to do our job. In the treatment field, these tools fall into one of three broad classes: knowledge, skills and attitudes. The job of research is to constantly examine and evaluate these tools and any innovations or additions that occur over time.

Since technology changes over time, we depend on research to continually examine and evaluate technology changes for us. The technology used by our field provides answers to questions such as “how can prevention and treatment efforts yield better outcomes for clients?”

Given the mounting pressures to contain health care costs and the increasing emphasis on “outcome funding,” entities connected to the prevention and treatment of substance use disorders have had to focus on improvements in practice that positively impact client outcomes. Yet there is mounting evidence indicating that much of the scientific knowledge gained from addiction-related research is often not utilized in practice. “There are more than 8,000 community-based treatment providers in the United States – and they account for the bulk of alcohol and other drug treatment. In spite of great strides made in research on the science and treatment of addiction, there are still many barriers to linking research findings with policy development and treatment implementation.”4

So the question becomes, how do we transform what is useful into what is actually used? How do we move technology developed academically into standard professional practice? The answer is technology transfer.

Technology transfer is not new. Humans have been using technology transfer throughout our existence. In many ways, successful technology transfer is what determined which groups survived and which did not. This still holds true for disciplines and professions today.

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