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‘Embracing change’ during COVID and beyond 

By Greg Grisolano, for the ATTC Network 


The COVID-19 pandemic has been a catalyst for seismic change. It has forced many to adapt to new technologies and to innovate solutions in the face of previously unthinkable challenges.

In July, the ATTC Network launched a series of articles about how our centers have gone about meeting those changes while continuing to provide training and technical assistance to those who request it. The challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic became an opportunity to begin “Embracing Change.” Messenger Article Dec 22

We invite readers to explore the whole series on our blog. Links are included in this article. 

Harm Reduction pilot program takes off

As harm reduction becomes increasingly integrated into drug treatment and prevention programs, the ATTC Network is prepared to provide consultation to help organizations incorporate it into their strategic responses.

The Mid-America ATTC launched a consultation pilot program in 2022, providing support for three drug treatment and mental health organizations and one local health department.

Jill Eriksen, a senior project manager from the Mid-America ATTC who worked closely on the project, said it was a great opportunity to listen to agencies and tailor training needs to their treatment services.

“Harm Reduction takes a compassionate approach to people that have substance use disorders,” she said. “Agencies understand the importance of shifting the paradigm to engage their clients in meaningful change that empowers the individual to take an active role in seeking and committing to long-term recovery.” 

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Our national population-specific centers talked about how they have helped their communities embrace change during and in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The National Hispanic and Latino ATTC continues collaborating with community agencies and regional TTCs, connecting communities and embracing equity. Some results include three new learning series focused on the workforce development of behavioral health providers working with Hispanic/Latino/Latinx communities. 

The National American Indian & Alaska Native ATTC highlighted lessons learned from its Tribal Opioid Response program, which began with in-person meetings in 2019 but pivoted to fully virtual in 2020. 

“(W)e learned that online trainings and meetings also had unintended benefits. Grantees did not have to budget time or money for travel; they were able to connect with other grantees outside their own geographic areas… Just as important, we witnessed the incredible strength, resilience, and creativity of Native communities in addressing OUDs.”

The New England ATTC wrote about the role Recovery Community Organizations play in delivering services to those from historically marginalized and underserved communities.

And the Northeast and Caribbean ATTC is currently providing technical assistance support to Dr. Sidney Hankerson in Columbia University’s pilot study, “Depression Screening in Black Churches.” This clinical trial  tests the viability of using SBIRT (Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment) with African Americans versus the traditional mental health referral process.

The pilot program recruits members of church congregations to train as Community Health Workers (CHWs) in the facilitation of SBIRT. Although the study remains ongoing, “the hope is that data will show that SBIRT can help increase access to care for African American communities burdened with a high prevalence of depression and possibly other mental illnesses.”

More resilience in the face of COVID-19

When the pandemic lockdowns took place a month after launching the second cohort of its change leadership pilot program, the Pacific Southwest ATTC team had to make radical changes in its approach, platforms and tools.

“We threw out our tried and true ‘three-day, in-person, intensive training workshop,’ and replaced it with a five-week, eight-session, 21-hour virtual training academy… The pandemic served as a major innovation disruptor to our team, causing us to pivot to the new realities that COVID-19 brought, not only in how we engaged with agencies to deliver intensive technical assistance but also how change was occurring within these agencies and the types of changes that they prioritized to address.”

As COVID forced many providers to expand their telehealth offerings rapidly, the Mountain Plains ATTC collaborated with the Pacific Southwest ATTC on sample policies for the delivery of SUD-related services via Audio-Only Telehealth, and wrote about the need for expanding access to such services

And the Central East ATTC reflected on ways behavioral health professionals could take steps to recover from burnout and compassion fatigue

Other Training and Technical Assistance success stories

The Northwest ATTC  uses the EPIS model to help programs enhance their co-occurring disorder services, providing a blueprint for success for others to follow

In South Carolina, the Southeast ATTC facilitated a statewide training initiative for Cognitive Behavior Therapy.

The Great Lakes ATTC shared insights from three subject matter experts on “infusing” TA and ITA content with NIATx principles and the Change Leader Academy (CLA) curriculum. 

Stay tuned for the final installment from the South Southwest ATTC on Dec. 15.

Covid-19 Related Resources

Addressing Addiction in Our Native American Communities Volume 7 Issue 3: Recovering from Substance Use Disorders During COVID-19

  The National American Indian and Alaska Native Addiction Technology Transfer Center would like to share with you Volume 7, Issue 3 of our newsletter, Addressing Addiction in our Native American Communities for Fall 2021: Recovering from Substance Use Disorders During COVID-19. Please take a few moments to explore this issue. It is available at the link below to download.

El Abuso de Sustancias Durante El COVID-19

*This webinar was in Spanish* Presentación El Abuso de Sustancias Durante El COVID-19 es una presentación que introduce a Los Centros Hispano/Latino de Capacitación y Asistencia Técnica en Adicción y en Prevención (NHL-ATTC y NHL-PTTC) de SAMHSA a los miembros de los programas de La Ventanilla de Salud (VDS), un programa diseñado por la Secretaría de Salud y la Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores del Gobierno de México para ayudar a identificar los servicios de salud que necesitan las familias mexicanas en Estados Unidos dentro del Consulado de México. La VDS ofrece educación en distintos temas de salud. El objetivo de la VDS es mejorar el acceso a servicios primarios y preventivos de salud, aumentar la cobertura en seguros públicos y promover una cultura de prevención de salud a los mexicanos que viven en Estados Unidos. Por medio de este taller educativo, los miembros de los centros proveen información sobre los centros NHL-PTTC) y NHL-ATTC con el propósito de formar enlaces con las 50 sucursales de VDS ubicadas por todo el país. El taller también ofrece información sobre la prevención del abuso de sustancias, define que es la prevención, presenta la Prevención como disciplina o profesión y ofrece información y recursos sobre la prevención. Finalmente presenta información sobre los trastornos del abuso de sustancias, y como aprender sobre las causas, consecuencias y tratamientos disponibles sobre ellos. Y una sección de información sobre retos del COVID-19 y el uso de sustancias y ofreció recursos para la comunidad.

Cómo el aislamiento social, la soledad, y la inseguridad afecta a las personas en recuperación de adicción y salud mental durante COVID-19; y que hacer al respecto.

** This is a SPANISH Language Webinar. Pre-recorded versions are available in English and Portuguese ** Presentation Slides Español English Portuguese   Additional Recordings English Portuguese   En su charla TED titulada "Todo lo que crees que sabes sobre la adicción es incorrecto", el cual ha sido visto más de 15 millones de veces, el periodista británico Johann Hari analiza la investigación disponible sobre las causas subyacentes de la adicción y concluye, de manera brillante, que lo contrario de la adicción no es la sobriedad, es la conexión. COVID-19 ha interrumpido esa conexión y nos ha afectado de formas que quizás no habíamos experimentado antes, o de formas que pueden ser peligrosas para nuestra recuperación. Ha hecho más difícil el tener el apoyo a nuestra recuperación de la forma que funcionaba para nosotros y nos ha forzado a que cambiemos y aprendamos nuevas herramientas para mantener nuestra recuperación. Este seminario web analizará cómo nuestra recuperación ha sido afectada durante estos tiempos del COVID-19 y qué podemos hacer para mantenerla y fortalecerla. Los participantes: Aprenderán cómo el aislamiento social, la soledad y la inseguridad afectan a las personas en recuperación Entenderán los pasos para la recuperación y la resiliencia de la pandemia Discutirán soluciones prácticas para fortalecer la recuperación durante el aislamiento social. Presentador Pierluigi Mancini, PhD, MAC Project Director @National Hispanic and Latino Addiction Technology Transfer Center and Prevention Technology Transfer Center Pierluigi Mancini, PhD, MAC is the Project Director for the National Hispanic and Latino Addiction Technology Transfer Center and the National Hispanic and Latino Prevention Technology Transfer Center. Both SAMHSA funded centers are housed at the National Latino Behavioral Health Association ( located in New Mexico. With over 30 years of experience in culturally and linguistically appropriate behavioral health treatment and prevention, Dr. Mancini is one of the most sought after national and international consultants and speakers on mental health and addiction, his areas of expertise is immigrant behavioral health and health disparities. Dr. Mancini founded Georgia’s first Latino behavioral health program in 1999 to serve the immigrant population by providing cultural and linguistically appropriate services in English, Spanish and Portuguese. Pierluigi Mancini, PhD, MAC es el Director del Centro Hispano Latino de Capacitación y Asistencia Técnica en Adicción (NHL-ATTC) y del Centro Hispano Latino de Capacitación y Asistencia Técnica en Prevención (NHL-PTTC). Ambos centros financiados por la agencia federal SAMHSA son parte de La Asociación Nacional Latina de Salud Mental y Adicciones (NLBHA por sus siglas en inglés ubicada en Nuevo México. Con más de 30 años de experiencia en el tratamiento y la prevención de la adicción y la salud mental con sensibilidad cultural y lingüísticamente apropiadas, el Doctor Mancini es uno de los consultores y oradores nacionales e internacionales más solicitados. Sus áreas de especialización son la salud mental del inmigrante y las disparidades de salud. El Doctor Mancini fundó el primer programa de salud mental y adicciones para latinos en el estado de Georgia en el año 1999 para brindar servicios en inglés, español y portugués.