The Integrated Substance Abuse Programs at the University of California, Los Angeles held a conference, "Blending Clinical Practice and Research: Forging Partnerships to Enhance Drug Addiction Treatment," in Los Angeles, November 1–2, 2000.
Staff at the Integrated Substance Abuse Programs also started a continuing workgroup for Los Angeles County on the same topic.
The conference was largely funded ($250,000) by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) provided support that allowed conference organizers to reduce the conference fee from $60–75 to $25 per participant.
- The conference drew 1,000 participants from the fields of substance abuse research, treatment, social services, policy and criminal justice. NIDA director Alan I. Leshner, Ph.D., gave the keynote address.
The conference featured workshops on 16 topics, including the effect of drugs on the brain and behavior, co-occurring disorders, club drugs, adolescent drug treatment, gender issues and methamphetamine treatment. Papers from the conference were published in a special issue of the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, September 2002. (See the Bibliography for details.)
- The conference included a meeting, "Forging Partnerships: Next Steps for Los Angeles" that launched the Los Angeles County Partnerships Network, a workgroup designed to promote and expand linkages between university-based researchers and community-based service providers in the substance-abuse field.
The network has about 50 active members from some three-dozen organizations, ranging from county agencies to the RAND Corporation.
- During the project, the network held five meetings, attended by an average of 20 members. The network organized around discussions of community service needs, research interests and funding news. Between meetings, staff at the Integrated Substance Abuse Programs worked with network members to develop proposals for collaborative research projects.
Several network members helped develop the agenda for an April 2001 conference, "Common Ground, Common Language, Common Goals: Bringing Substance Abuse Practice and Research Together," funded by the federal Center for Substance Abuse Treatment.
- In addition, the network launched a listserv, with more than 300 subscribers including service providers, researchers and policy-makers. The listserv allows network members and others to share information about substance abuse research, treatment, upcoming events and funding opportunities.
Integrated Substance Abuse Programs staff uses the listserv to disseminate information about articles and reports on substance abuse. A network Web site, includes links to resources, research/practice reports and an interactive directory of professionals working in the substance abuse field in and around Los Angeles County.
- A third-party "bridger" is critical to research/practice integration. A project co-director (Suzanne Spear) took a community organizing approach — disseminating information, developing linkages and pursuing the development of joint projects — which the project team credits for its success. (Project Co-Director)
RWJF supported the project with a grant of $44,624 between October 2000 and September 2001.
After the Grant
An article discussing the network will appear in a special issue of the Journal of Drug Issues devoted to the Common Ground conference. (See the Bibliography for details.)
Following the grant period, the network continued to hold regular meetings, and established a workgroup on best practices for substance abuse treatment. The latter is developing an Outpatient Treatment Guideline for use throughout California.
The network has merged with the Los Angeles Practice Improvement Collaborative, another network of community substance abuse treatment providers and researchers, which is funded by the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment.
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