SAMHSA News Release

SAMHSA Press Releases

Date: December 5, 2001
Contact: Ivette Torres/SAMHSA Media 
Phone: 301-443-5052



SAMHSA Approves Accrediting Organizations for Methadone Treatment Programs


Four organizations were selected by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to accredit substance abuse treatment programs that use methadone and other medications to treat heroin and similar additions. The four organizations, announced in the Federal Register, are the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF), the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO), the Council on Accreditation for Children and Family Services (COA) and the State of Washington Department of Social and Health Services Division of Alcohol and Substance Abuse.

The announcement is part of an on going SAMHSA initiative to improve the quality and oversight of opioid treatment programs that use methadone or Levo-Alpha-Acetyl-Methadol (LAAM). Accreditation has been proven over the years to produce effective outcomes and is a widely adopted external quality assessment system used by the federal government, states, managed care firms, insurers, and others to ensure accountability for quality treatment. Accreditation should give assurances to communities that the highest quality medicine is being practiced.

"Accreditation of methadone treatment programs is a fundamental shift in the way we approach drug abuse treatment in our nation," said SAMHSA Administrator Charles G. Curie. "Accreditation can help reduce stigma and discrimination by moving drug abuse treatment into mainstream medicine. Just like treatment for other diseases, physicians and other health care professionals will make decisions based on standards that emphasize the best care for patients."

SAMHSA's Center for Substance Abuse Treatment Director, H. Westley Clark, M.D., J.D., M.P.H., pointed out that "as a benchmark of quality, accreditation indicates that an organization meets certain critical performance standards. This should enhance community confidence in opioid treatment and enhance the ability of treatment programs to access managed care contracts."

The move to accreditation follows recommendations made by a 1997 National Institutes of Health consensus panel. The panel concluded that existing federal and state regulations limit the ability of physicians and other health care professionals to provide methadone maintenance services to patients and recommended accreditation in lieu of regulations to improve the quality of care. The changes are also consistent with a 1995 report by the Institute of Medicine that stressed the need to readjust the balance among regulations, clinical practice guidelines and quality assurance systems.

Opioid treatment programs must apply for certification to one of the four accreditation organizations by March 4, 2002. Treatment programs will have until May 19, 2003 to complete the accreditation process.

CSAT, which oversees the accreditation program, is providing technical assistance to opioid treatment programs to help them meet the accreditation standards of the organization they have selected. Questions about technical assistance should be directed to 1-800-839-6120. Questions about federal regulations or the federal certification program should be directed to 1-866-463-6687. Questions about the accreditation process should be directed to the accreditation body chosen by an opioid treatment program.

CSAT is a component of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). 

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a public health agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the lead federal agency for improving the quality and availability of substance abuse prevention, addiction treatment and mental health services in the United States. Information on SAMHSA's programs is available on the Internet at

News media requests should be directed to Media Services at (800) 487-4890.




This page was last updated on 13 December, 2001
SAMHSA is An Agency of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services