The Need

Medication-assisted treatment has been effective in facilitating many patients’ recovery from opioid addiction for over 30 years. Research shows that opioid addiction is a medical disorder that can be treated safely and effectively with medications.

However, recent reports of adverse incidents and deaths associated with methadone have raised concern among state and national legislators about the risks involved. These concerns and adverse incidents have led to an increased number of lawsuits as well as legislation that seeks to legislate clinical practice, patient safety, and community values.

Patients driving under the influence of multiple substances; unsafe diversion of take-home medication; unsafe induction and reduction of medication; and dosing practices without consideration of clinically assessed severity of dependence and metabolism rates can expose clinics to liability and endanger patient and public health. Physicians, psychiatrists, clinical staff, nurses, and opiate treatment program staff need to understand how to minimize risks to patients and others.

The Solution

In 2010, IRETA hosted a series of webinars presented by clinical and legal experts on risk management strategies for methadone as well as two face-to-face conferences designed for a local and national audience.

In 2012, with funding from SAMHSA, IRETA developed a one-day remote-access training, “Effective Risk Management Strategies in Outpatient Methadone Treatment,” designed for opioid treatment providers clinical and administrative staff.

The curriculum was made available on the IRETA website without charge, then promoted via webinars and conferences with national scopes.

The Results

The trainer’s manual has been downloaded over 400 times since September 2012.


IRETA continues to work for the improvement of medication-assisted treatment services. In 2017, IRETA began working with Opioid Treatment Programs in western Pennsylvania to evaluate their practices, then develop and implement quality improvement strategies.