The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) has released a new online resource to help people find the most appropriate care when looking for treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD).  The Alcohol Treatment Navigator was designed as a comprehensive, easy-to-use tool to help identify and find treatment for those with AUD.

“We developed this tool to help address the alcohol ‘treatment gap,’” said NIAAA Director George F. Koob, Ph.D. “In any given year, less than 10 percent of individuals diagnosed with alcohol use disorder receive treatment, and many of them do not receive the type of care that best fits their needs. A big reason for that, we believe, is that people with alcohol use disorder often don’t know where to turn for help. The Alcohol Treatment Navigator offers a comprehensive strategy to help people search for professionally-led, evidence-based alcohol treatment, which should improve their chances for success.”

The Alcohol Treatment Navigator is the result of nearly two years of development.  The tool is based on scientific research and was formulated with input from people seeking alcohol treatment, treatment providers, and researchers.

“Good alcohol treatment can be very hard to find,” said Lori Ducharme, Ph.D., NIAAA’s program director for Health Services Research and lead developer of the navigator.  “Knowing where to look for treatment is difficult, mainly because treatment takes many forms which often are not well integrated into general health care. That makes it hard for people to find the kind of care that they need, when they need it. The navigator is designed to take the mystery and frustration out of that search by guiding them through a step-by-step process to find a qualified treatment provider.”

Treatment developers hope the tool expands public knowledge about AUD and brings awareness to the multitude of treatment options. Ducharme notes that many people think they are limited to either a mutual help group or a long-term residential rehab facility for treatment. While helpful for some, these options are not a good fit for everyone.

“In fact, a theme of the navigator is that different people need different options,” said Ducharme. “We need to help people understand the whole range of treatment options that are available, how to find one that meets their unique needs and preferences, and that treatments with the strongest chances for success are those that are informed by the results of rigorous scientific research on alcohol use disorder.”

The Alcohol Treatment Navigator includes:

  • An overview of alcohol use disorder
  • A description of different kinds of professionally-led treatment options
  • Step-by-step instructions for searching several existing online directories of treatment providers, including information from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Behavioral Health Treatment Locator
  • Ten questions to ask a provider, and 5 signs of quality to listen for
  • A downloadable Toolkit to help organize and simplify the search process