The NIAAA Alcohol Treatment Navigator
By George F. Koob, Ph.D., Director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
In any given year, more than 15 million adults in the US meet the diagnostic criteria for alcohol use disorder (AUD), but less than 10% of them receive treatment. Meanwhile, many of those in treatment may not receive the care that best fits their needs. What accounts for this alcohol “treatment gap?”.
Often, finding quality AUD care can be complicated, and many people aren’t aware of the full range of available treatment options. It can also be difficult to tell if a provider is offering good quality treatment, what we call “evidence based care” that is, treatment that is grounded in clinical and health services research that demonstrates positive treatment outcomes.
During my tenure as Director of NIAAA, I’ve received numerous calls from colleagues and the general public asking for advice on finding “good” alcohol treatment providers in or near their communities for their family and friends.
Those calls inspired us to develop the Navigator which makes this complicated process easier by telling people what they need to know, and what they need to do, to recognize and choose quality care. This landmark resource is comprehensive, yet easy to use, guiding the user through a step-by-step process to find highly-qualified treatment professionals. It helps them better understand their options, empowering families to help their loved ones, and giving health professionals a resource to share with clients who need a referral.
The Navigator helps create informed consumers by explaining AUD and the various treatment options available, along with tips on how to recognize five signs of quality care and steps to find quality treatment, including 10 questions to ask a potential provider. It also features several online directories of providers, with instructions on how to use them most effectively.
For more than two years, we worked to develop the Navigator by drawing on decades of scientific research on clinical interventions and health services delivery, and getting input from patients, families, treatment providers and researchers. I am grateful to everyone who contributed to this effort.
We believe that the NIAAA Alcohol Treatment Navigator will be a game-changer for people looking for quality treatment for AUD. We hope you will visit the site and go through it, then share it widely. And we plan to refine and update the Navigator regularly, so please give us your feedback. It is available at AlcoholTreatment.niaaa.nih.gov
"In 2005, an estimated 22 million Americans struggled with a drug or alcohol problem. Almost 95 percent of people with substance use problems are considered unaware of their problem.* Of those who recognize their problem, 273,000 have made an unsuccessful effort to obtain treatment. These estimates highlight the importance of increasing prevention efforts and improving access to treatment for substance abuse and co-occurring disorders." - Healthy People 2020
About the Director:
George F. Koob, Ph.D., is an internationally-recognized expert on alcohol and stress, and the neurobiology of alcohol and drug addiction. He is the Director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), where he provides leadership in the national effort to reduce the public health burden associated with alcohol misuse. As NIAAA Director, Dr. Koob oversees a broad portfolio of alcohol research ranging from basic science to epidemiology, diagnostics, prevention, and treatment.
Dr. Koob earned his doctorate in Behavioral Physiology from Johns Hopkins University in 1972. Prior to taking the helm at NIAAA, he served as Professor and Chair of the Scripps’ Committee on the Neurobiology of Addictive Disorders and Director of the Alcohol Research Center at the Scripps Research Institute. Early in his career, Dr. Koob conducted research in the Department of Neurophysiology at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and in the Arthur Vining Davis Center for Behavioral Neurobiology at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. He was a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Experimental Psychology and the MRC Neuropharmacology Unit at the University of Cambridge.
Dr. Koob began his career investigating the neurobiology of emotion, particularly how the brain processes reward and stress. He subsequently applied basic research on emotions, including on the anatomical and neurochemical underpinnings of emotional function, to alcohol and drug addiction, significantly broadening knowledge of the adaptations within reward and stress neurocircuits that lead to addiction. This work has Director's Statement on Inclusivity at Conferencesadvanced our understanding of the physiological effects of alcohol and other substance use and why some people transition from use to misuse to addiction, while others do not. Dr. Koob has authored more than 650 peer-reviewed scientific papers and is a co-author of The Neurobiology of Addiction, a comprehensive textbook reviewing the most critical neurobiology of addiction research conducted over the past 50 years.
Dr. Koob is the recipient of many prestigious honors and awards for his research, mentorship, and international scientific collaboration. In 2018 Dr. Koob received the E.M. Jellinek Memorial Award for his outstanding contributions to understanding the behavioral course of addiction. In 2017 Dr. Koob was elected to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM). In 2016 the government of France awarded Dr. Koob with the insignia of Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur (Knight of the Legion of Honor) for developing scientific collaborations between France and the United States.
In addition, Dr. Koob previously received the Research Society on Alcoholism (RSA) Seixas Award for extraordinary service in advancing alcohol research; the RSA Distinguished Investigator Award; the RSA Marlatt Mentorship Award; the Daniel Efron Award for excellence in basic research and the Axelrod Mentorship Award, both from the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology; the NIAAA Mark Keller Award for his lifetime contributions to our understanding of the neurobiology of alcohol use disorder; and an international prize in the field of neuronal plasticity awarded by La Fondation Ipsen.