The New Jersey Department of Human Services this week launched a free, confidential, first-of-its-kind online tool to connect New Jerseyans in need with appropriate addiction treatment care and deliver user-friendly information about the quality of available programs.
The tool is called ATLAS — short for Addiction Treatment Locator, Assessment and Standards. The platform will offer an easy-to-use dashboard to allow individuals with substance use disorder and their loved ones to search for and compare participating programs using criteria such as location, services offered and insurance accepted, so they can find the best treatment for their unique needs.
ATLAS was created by Shatterproof, a national nonprofit organization that aims to reverse the addiction crisis in the country. It was brought to New Jersey with funding and support from Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey.
ATLAS will evaluate addiction treatment programs’ use of evidence-based best practices and make the information available to the public on its platform. Best practices are based on the Shatterproof National Principles of Care, which are evidence-based standards derived from the Surgeon General’s Report on Addiction, using data gathered through a combination of validated sources.
ATLAS, which is available in English and Spanish, has several unique features, including:
- Feedback from other patients once a minimum threshold of 20 responses for the facility is met, updated every 24 hours;
- An expert-approved Addiction Treatment Needs Assessment, created in collaboration with the American Society of Addiction Medicine and OpenBeds, to help guide the treatment search based on the individual’s needs and severity;
- The ability to search and filter using criteria such as location, services offered and insurance accepted, as well as the opportunity to compare facilities.
Human Services Commissioner Sarah Adelman said it’s important to empower individuals and families confronting substance use disorder and help them make informed decisions.
“This is yet another tool in our collective work to make addiction treatment as accessible as possible so individuals and families can get the help they need — because treatment works, and recovery is attainable,” she said. “Our goal, always, is to save lives. This is another way to do so.”
ATLAS includes an assessment to help individuals understand the appropriate level of care they need. The platform also gathers and displays anonymous feedback from patients on their experiences at facilities. This feedback helps to inform others’ care decisions. In addition, anyone who has received treatment from a facility in New Jersey can visit the site to search for the facility and leave a patient review.
ATLAS lists New Jersey addiction treatment facilities for various types of substance use disorder, including alcohol and opioid use disorder.
Shatterproof founder and CEO Gary Mendell said he knows firsthand how important the platform can be.
“When my son Brian needed addiction treatment, my family agonized trying to find him the right care,” he said. “It was impossible to know who to trust.
“ATLAS is a sea change in the addiction world. It will give those in need and their families the transparent and trustworthy information my family never had, and will help put more people on the path to recovery.”
Suzanne Kunis, vice president of behavioral health for Horizon, said the insurer was eager to become a partner.
“Horizon is thrilled to be able to provide the funding needed to bring Shatterproof’s ATLAS to New Jersey,” she said. “No one in crisis, dealing with substance use disorders, or, worse, an overdose, should have to hope they guess right to find good care.
“The ATLAS Quality Measurement System gives New Jerseyans looking for treatment options the same kind of evidence-based quality and outcomes information they are used to getting about primary care doctors, specialists, and acute care hospitals.
“This is long overdue. We appreciate the providers who have joined us so far in sending a clear message that we are united here in New Jersey in our commitment to evidence-based treatment and to giving people meaningful information that helps them choose the right program and treatment partner.”
ATLAS builds on existing efforts by New Jersey to connect individuals and families to treatment through the 844-ReachNJ helpline.