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An online tool to find addiction treatment launches in Florida

ATLAS helps families navigate the often-complicated addiction treatment system.
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ATLAS helps families navigate the often-complicated addiction treatment system.

Users can get advice on what kind of care may best serve them and narrow searches based on their personal needs.

Floridians can now access a free tool to help them find substance use treatment.

The online assessment and treatment locator is called ATLAS, and it's designed to serve individuals struggling with addiction or concerned friends and family who are searching on their behalf.

Users can fill out a questionnaire to get recommendations about the types of treatments that may benefit them, depending on their situation. Those could involve outpatient or residential programs, as well as additional services like mental health care or medication-assisted treatment.

Developers worked with the American Society of Addiction Medicine to come up with questions and answers, according to Gary Mendell, founder and CEO of Shatterproof, an addiction recovery nonprofit that operates ATLAS in 10 states.

“To remedy what I went through as a father and what millions of people go through every day looking for treatment,” said Mendell, whose son died in 2011 after battling drug addiction for years.

The tool also allows users to filter searches based on which places accept specific health insurance plans and whether they can accommodate certain populations including veterans or pregnant people, among other criteria.

Treatment sites are evaluated on whether they offer services that align with Shatterproof’s “National Principles of Care,” including providing fast access to treatment, personalized plans and long-term follow-up.

The service is needed in Florida, according to Jennifer Moore, vice president of development at the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay. The center also handles a statewide substance misuse hotline and Moore said this year they've answered more than 19,000 calls so far.

“Frustration is the biggest emotion that we hear first,” she said. “Frustration from an individual that is unable to control their urges and feels guilt, frustration from an individual that is unable to find a facility that takes their insurance.

"And then calls from family members and friends of someone that is struggling with substance misuse, calls from individuals that are overwhelmed by trying to find the resources and how to help someone navigate this problem, this disease.”

The state’s largest health insurer, Florida Blue, partnered with Shatterproof to fund ATLAS’ launch in the state.

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody attended a kickoff event in Tampa on Thursday where community members gathered for a training on how to navigate the platform. Moody cited the more than 107,000 Americans who died from drug overdoses last year as she encouraged families in Florida to take advantage of the tool.

“Whether you are some struggling yourself or you’re someone who is desperately trying to save someone you love, don’t wait another minute,” she said.

Resources

  • Access the ATLAS online platform to locate treatment near you.
  • Dial 211 for mental and behavioral health support, or 988 if you're experiencing a mental health crisis.
  • Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website for more resources or call its national hotline 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Copyright 2022 WUSF Public Media - WUSF 89.7

Stephanie Colombini joined WUSF Public Media in December 2016 as Producer of Florida Matters, WUSF’s public affairs show. She’s also a reporter for WUSF’s Health News Florida project.