Editor’s Note: This message is written by IRETA Board member Dave McAdoo, excerpted from our latest annual report. View the 2016 Annual Report for a full picture of our work.
I’ve been working in the field of addictions since 1980. Over the decades, I have covered the full scope: from crisis services, to prevention, intervention, case management and treatment. The consistent theme throughout these 37 years has been helping as many people as possible to find hope and recovery.
I currently manage a Medicaid Behavioral Health Program which covers nine counties and funds behavioral health treatment for over 30,000 people each month. Despite the size of this program, I believe that my best opportunity to help as many people as possible is through IRETA.
Specifically, through IRETA’s efforts, I believe that we can and do incorporate science into the addiction field both to improve outcomes and—even more importantly—to increase the number of people who find hope and the path to recovery.
When I joined IRETA’s Board in the late 1990s, I was invited as the Chair of the Pennsylvania Association of County Drug and Alcohol Administrators (PACDAA). At PACDAA, I had the opportunity to see the passion and the struggles of Pennsylvania’s Drug and Alcohol Single County Authorities to help the residents of their counties with limited resources. In IRETA, I saw answers to these struggles via opportunities to improve addiction services by incorporating scientific research and the resulting best practices into medication, therapy, and payment structures.
In my entire career, the demand for addiction treatment has always outweighed available funding. While I often fantasize that someday we will have the funding to meet all of our needs, I do not see that day coming soon. I believe that our best opportunity to lessen the gap between needs and available resources is to ensure that we get the biggest bang for every dollar spent. I believe that is where IRETA fits in: we provide resources, training and onsite technical assistance.
I believe that my best opportunity to help as many people as possible is through IRETA.
While I talk about hope and recovery, I also am reminded each day about the lives that we are losing to the opioid crisis. So many people are struggling and looking for answers about how to stop the next overdose. The addiction field is one of the few medical fields where even many MDs base decisions on philosophical approaches versus using evidence and research in individualized clinical decision-making. The high percentages of overdoses that are occurring after people have participated in treatment services tell me that we have many opportunities for improvement. I strongly believe that the best way to save lives is to examine our current crisis though the lens of science and research. Then, we take the opportunity to transfer research into practice. IRETA helps the addiction field accomplish these tasks.
Each year, IRETA has documented successes. This year, I look at IRETA’s work with federal problem solving courts across the country as a perfect example of a tailored approach to quality improvement. In my experience with the criminal justice system, behavioral health service referrals are often based on existing relationships, because “that’s what we’ve always done.” People are rarely moved through treatment services based on an ongoing assessment of their needs. IRETA is bringing science into the decision-making process of federal probation and parole services and we’re seeing improved outcomes: clients who are making progress in their recovery and in their citizenship.
In the months and years to come, I look forward to continuing my personal mission by supporting IRETA in its mission.
David C. McAdoo, MBA
IRETA Board Treasurer
Interested in IRETA’s work? View our 2016 Annual Report