Volume 1, Issue 3

Paul RomanIntroduction to the Third Issue of The Bridge
By Paul Roman

A workforce is the obvious “body and soul” of any specialty field of endeavor.
The substance abuse treatment workforce is large and diverse, and has a very colorful history, very well documented by Bill White (1998) in his matchless biblical-like history of this specialty arena.

The past decade has been distinctively marked by aggressive and vigorous promotion of technology transfer centered on new sets of evidence-based practices (EBPs). When counselors have been studied as key actors in EBP adoption, the poor quality of information that we have about the substance abuse treatment workforce has been highlighted. This workforce has been defined as being in crisis in terms of its ability to support adequately the professional demands and aspirations around which the future of substance abuse treatment is being defined. Both the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) have assigned priority to workplace development and workplace research, respectively, in their emerging goals for the coming decade.

As part of its current period of funding from SAMHSA, the Addiction Technology Transfer Center National Office is charged with completing a national study of the substance abuse treatment workforce. That project, being conducted, in part, by the National Development and Research Institutes (NDRI) of Raleigh, North Carolina, has several critical phases, the first of which has been to abstract and collate the state of current knowledge about the substance abuse treatment workforce in the US. The report from that work is presented to the substance abuse community for the first time in this issue of The Bridge, and follows this introduction.

The monograph on the state of current knowledge, co-authored by Deena Murphy and Robert Hubbard of NDRI, is intended to offer both substantive summary data as well as provide a platform for a soon-to-be-launched national survey of the substance abuse treatment workforce. Laurie Krom, the ATTC National Office Director, suggested inviting the Editorial Board of The Bridge to offer their comments on the monograph’s contribution in preparation for the national survey.

Thus the third issue of The Bridge has four opportunities embedded for our readers.

First is the chance to read this excellent summary of what available data and published studies tell us about the substance abuse treatment workforce.

Second is the opportunity to read and reflect upon six diverse commentaries about the monograph’s implications for the upcoming survey. Written by our founding editorial board members Mike Boyle, Heather Gotham, Hannah Knudsen, Dennis McCarty and myself, we are joined in this issue by our newest member, Dr. Steve Martino of the Department of Psychiatry at Yale University and the Connecticut VA Health Center. Steve is the chair of the Research Utilization Committee of the National Drug Treatment Clinical Trials Network and thus has broad exposure to issues surrounding technology transfer. We are also joined by a guest contributor co-authoring with Dennis McCarty, Dr. Traci Reickmann of Oregon Health and Science University.

The third opportunity is to share the reflections of the authors of the review monograph, Deena Murphy and Bob Hubbard, who have prepared a reactive response to the Editorial Board commentaries.

Fourth is the opportunity for you, our readership, to reflect and react to the many issues and concerns that are raised in the monograph, the discussion, and the reaction statement. We want to hear from you. Please send your comments about workforce-related issues or about the upcoming national survey to thebridge@ATTCnetwork.org, and they will be reviewed for publication in a future issue of The Bridge.

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