Does IRETA provide direct services to people with
No. IRETA offers consulting and training to anyone who wants to do a better job of addressing substance use and addiction. Our work can take many forms, but we do not provide counseling or medication directly to patients with addiction.
Does IRETA advocate for specific approaches to
IRETA advocates for a science-based approach to addiction and at-risk substance use. Currently, there isn’t one single approach to addiction that has been shown to work for everyone. This can be compared to weight loss: people do well with various levels of professional and personal support, and different diets work for different people. However, IRETA opposes the use of practices that have been found to be ineffective, such as fear-based prevention strategies, short term residential rehab with no aftercare, and treatment for opioid addiction that excludes the option of medication-assisted treatment. We believe that addiction and its treatment have been too long obscured by social stigma and philosophical beliefs that do not align with scientific research.
What is IRETA’s history?
IRETA was formed in 1999 as an offshoot of St. Francis Hospital, which is now closed but used to be located in Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville neighborhood. Its founder was Dr. Michael Flaherty, a psychologist who worked at St. Francis and was continually frustrated by health professionals’ inadequate training on addiction, skewed social views of addiction, and policies that punished people with addictions rather than supporting recovery. Dr. Flaherty retired from IRETA in 2011 and was succeeded by IRETA’s current Executive Director, Dr. Peter Luongo, who has over 30 years of experience in addiction care as a social worker and administrator.
Is IRETA primarily focused on Pittsburgh or
IRETA strives to be a good Pittsburgh citizen, which means taking on projects that improve health and support recovery in our home city. However, our work often takes place on a larger scale. Some of our projects operate at a state level, some are regional, and some are national.