Wait No Longer: Reducing Medication Wait-Times for Individuals with Co-Occurring Disorders

April 7, 2022


Community addiction treatment agencies have utilized Network for the Improvement of Addiction Treatment (NIATx), a proven implementation strategy, to reduce appointment wait-times. However, its effectiveness at reducing medication access wait-times has not been explored. Thus, we conducted an exploratory analysis to evaluate the impact of the NIATx implementation strategies on reduced wait-times to addiction, psychotropic or both medications for individuals with co-occurring disorders (COD).


In a cluster-randomized waitlist control group design, community addiction treatment agencies (n = 49) were randomized to receive the NIATx strategy (Cohort 1, n = 25) or to a Waitlist control (Cohort 2, n = 24). All agencies had a 12-month active intervention period. The primary outcome was the medication encounter wait-time. A univariate general linear model analysis utilizing a logarithmic (log10) transformation examined medication wait-times improvements.


The intent-to-treat analysis for psychotropic medications and both medications (reflecting integrated treatment) showed significant main effects for intervention and time, especially comparing Baseline and Year 1 to Year 2. Conversely, only the main effect for time was significant for addiction medications. Wait-time reductions in Cohort 1 agencies was delayed and occurred in the sustainment phase. Wait-times to a psychotropic, addiction, or both medications encounter declined by 3 days, 4.9 days, and 6.8 days, respectively. For Cohort 2 agencies, reduced wait-times were seen for psychotropic (3.4 days), addiction (6 days), and both medications (4.9 days) during their active implementation period. Same- or next-day medication access also improved.


NIATx implementation strategies reduced medication encounter wait-times but timing of agency improvements varied. Despite a significant improvement, a three-week wait-time to receive integrated pharmacological interventions is clinically suboptimal for individuals with a COD in need of immediate intervention. Community addiction treatment agencies should identify barriers and implement changes to improve medication access so that their patients “wait no longer” to receive integrated treatment and medications for their COD.

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